Don’t Confuse Remembering for Thinking

Change management, innovation, and strategic transformation move us forward. While reflecting on the past can sometimes be helpful, leaders can get stuck in the past. The culture of the organizations they lead and their dominant ways of thinking can be products of a bygone era. Pfeffer and Sutton wrote their book, The Knowing-Doing Gap way back in 1999; but it offers valuable lessons I still use today.

Here’s their advice for making sure remembering doesn’t substitute for thinking as you engage in change, innovation, and strategic transformation.

  • Start a new “something, ” a new organization, sub-unit, partnership, etc.” free of the constraints and history of the “old something.”
  • Make it difficult to use the old ways and offer new ways of doing things.
  • Encourage the questioning of precedent and the automatic reliance on the old way of doing things. 

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