There will always be Wizards of Oz in front of fascinated “Dorothies”.
Superficial manuals especially elaborated as advertising pamphlets of analytical methodologies and instruments can be useful for eager consultants for commercial certifications and representations in quantitative tools and psychometric pseudo-tests possible to be applied in organizations.
Unfortunately, Cartesian minds in search of comparative rankings and normative references, have used this pseudo-scientific approach in the analyses of their organizations. They waste time and resources in action to reduce a pretense “cultural entropy” based on a set of arbitrary values, imposed from outside to inside of the social order. Naivety and levity walk together.
Ahead of the profusion of superficial models, I conclude that certain national and international authors can have failed in at least one of two alternatives. Perhaps on one hand, they may have failed by not containing their personal positioning as spiritual gurus. It should have been more coherent with their literature. On the other hand, maybe, they have not understood, after all, the psychological, sociological, and anthropological bedding to the general theory of personal and group dynamics motivations.
By promulgating the application of their esoteric models and spurious instruments, they offer a disservice to the organizations, proportional to the number of “certified consultants” in their methods and instruments. They excessively illustrate the media power - notably Anglo-Saxon - in promoting superficial models tightly wrapped.
From a utilitarian definition about “culture” in most of diverse promoted books, the dual focus detaches examples of leadership behaviors and enriched and selfish values as pillars of the organization route aiming their desirable culture. Although certainly attractive by being a step-by-step procedural approach and by a pragmatic addressing of systems and symbols, models like these are simply manuals of consultant good practice.
Certain books are right in their description of men as being social animals in search for social mechanisms of orientation, protection, and coordination. They also walk in a promising direction by searching the cultural expression in behaviors, systems, and symbols. After all, they offer excellent and practical insights. Nevertheless, once again, such empirical approach proposes the conscious, consensual, and pacific definition of a set of aspiration values as desired culture in contraposition to the observed cultural status quo, neglecting the narrative power implicit in the sociopolitical process dynamics that made possible the effective format of the organizational expression, and assuming the discretionary capacity of the main leaderships in changing the route of future history.
The classic meeting between the horn and thus described ivory by the poet Virgil in his Aeneid: “There are two sleep doors. One is made of horn, which allows to pass the shades of the truth; the other, of a shinning brightness ivory, that allows the false dreams ascend to skies”.
The organizational schizophrenia potentially deriving from such empiricism may ignore the force of the subculture phenomenon or, still in a more harmful way, a complete disentail between what in fact remains as social substratum in the day-to-day of people and what is wanted to believe as new social order by the high leadership in the executive committees.
Personally, I consider the prescriptive practice manual approach limited in their fundamentals, notwithstanding its apparent instrumental utility. It is a waste of time to effective and lasting impacts, but excellent entertainment source for management meetings or motivational lectures.
Daniel Augusto Motta is Managing Partner and CEO of the BMI Blue Management Institute. Doctor in Economy by USP, Master’s in economy by FGV-EAESP and Bachelor’s in economy by USP. He is Alumni OPM Harvard Business School. He also acts as Managing Partner of the corporate venture capital WhiteFox headquartered in San Francisco and as Senior Tupinambá Maverick in the content tech Bossa.etc. He also acts as Managing of Strategical Planning of the UNIBES and Member of the Deliberative Board of MASP. He is Founder Member of the Brazilian Society of Finances. He was Professor in the MBAs of the Dom Cabral Foundation, Insper, FGV, ESPM and PUC-SP. He is the author of diverse articles published by Valor Econômico, EXAME, VocêSA and Folha de São Paulo, and he had also published three articles by Harvard Business Review Brazil. He is the author of A Liderança Essencial and Anthesis (March 2019).