This is the backstory to the book The Aesthetic Compass.
This book represents the endpoint of a line of work that I began more than 15 years ago. Simply put, it is to understand why, as Jean-Baptiste Karr said more than 150 years ago, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” The context of Karr’s words, for this book, is how organizations are led and managed. Specifically, why are organizations are led and managed in mostly the same ways today as described in books written in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries (and in ancient texts)? What accounts for the durability of such ways of thinking and doing things given that so much has else changed over the centuries?
The Aesthetic Compass is the fourth and final volume in a series that examines why most top leaders remain committed to classical management. They answer the century-old question of why resist, reject, or ignore progressive management. The previous three books are:
The Triumph of Classical Management Over Lean Management: How Tradition Prevails and What to Do About It
Irrational Institutions: Business, Its Leaders, and The Lean Movement
Management Mysterium: The Quest for Progress
These books dive deep into the details of this complex phenomenon. But is there a simpler explanation? The objective behind writing The Aesthetic Compass was to provide a simpler, Occam’s razor, explanation for the static ways in which organizations are led and managed by generations of leaders. And it succeeds in doing so!
The Aesthetic Compass makes the case that aesthetics is more powerful than realized when it comes to the job of leading and managing organizations. Aesthetics may even be, in most cases, the fundamental determinant of action or inaction that limits how far leaders will move beyond the status quo.
Said another way, aesthetics plays an integral role in decision-making, one that assures continuity with past ways of thinking and doing things. As such, aesthetics acts as a compass that provides seemingly clear and accurate direction to leaders that points toward beauty.
This is the 25th book that I have authored or co-authored. Writing reflects not just a labor that I have loved doing for over 40 years, but it also reflects a sincere effort on my part to help people see realities and make improvements that benefit themselves, their team, their organization, its stakeholders, and humanity.
My hope is that readers will find this tetralogy of books informative and a source of new ideas for advancing the very important practice of leadership and management; to move past classical management, having served its purpose but now obsolete in most ways, and enter a progressive realm of leadership and management that better reflects the times people live in.