Speech rituals

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

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Alex Kjerulf has a rare rant against Fast Company’s celebration of the provocative approach to management of Fernando Flores.

I don’t know what’s worse – the awful methods Flores employs; the fawning tone in the Fast Company article which makes him sound like a corporate superhero swooping in to save business in trouble; or the fact that he charges companies millions of dollars for his assistance.

To me this is one of the most disgusting business practices I’ve ever heard of. I’m all for honesty and openness but that is obviously NOT what Flores is preaching.

It’s hard to judge an approach by Fast Company’s treatment of it, but like any model, technique or philosophy, Flores’ notion of speech acts is open to abuse. Like Alex, I’m wary of scripted interventions and even more so of management hero-worship.

I’m also interested in the way we use language and I think Flores is on an interesting scent when he challenges managers. Politeness can be over-rated in conversations. Unfortunately, Flores’ own approach can just as easily ossify into a ritual. As the mystics say, the tao that can be named is not the tao.

The other interesting thing about Alex’s piece is the vociferous debate in the comments. I liked it a lot. Apart from anything else, I think it’s a fitting counterblast to ideas that as a species we can usefully agree on an explicit set of rules by which to conduct our conversations.

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