According to me, one of the most interesting management articles ever was written in 1992 by Schaffer and Thomson. To me, this article in its simplicity and results-focus was kind of like solution-focused change management avant la lettre. Their thought-provoking article was called 'Successful change programs begin with results'. I can't find a direct link to the article but here is a powerpoint presentation about it. Schaffer and Thomson call many change programs activity centered: the focus is on means and processes instead of on outcomes. Great effort is put in implementing programs, methods etc., like total quality management, reengineering and so on, in the hope that results will then automatically follow. The authors defy this logic. They claim that these activity centered approaches hardly ever work because the desired outcomes remain too vague, the change efforts are too large-scale and diffuse, and because means and goals are confused (the method seems to become more important than the originally desired outcomes). Schaffer and Thomson advocate a results-driven improvement process, which has the following characteristics:
- Organizations only introduce management and process innovations if necessary;
- Empirical tests show what works and what not;
- Frequent successes create new energy for improvement;
- Management creates a continuous learning process by applying lessons learnt in new phases.
I don't know if Schaffer and Thomson have written any other articles and books but this one is still very relevant and to the point. Let me know what you think.