When Talk Substitutes for Action
This chapter is most interesting. It ties in nicely with the research done by Jim Collins in Good to Great, which shows that the greatest organizations have "Level 5" leaders, who have worked themselves up the ranks. These are leaders you would never have heard of. e.g. Do you know who the CEO of Cisco is?
America's opinion of what makes great leaders is undergoing a sea-change in our times.
Sutton and Pfeffer are not charitable to the current style of management education. There hasn't been any convincing response to their arguments yet, the outcry notwithstanding.
I was talking to a customer care representative the other day, and we started discussing consulting. I mentioned that the best consultants listen to the employees, ask them what the problems are, and how to solve them. They relay this to the top management, and the solution gets accepted and implemented. We had a good laugh over this, but the outsider factor cannot be ignored. It is human nature to take those around you for granted. The current system of education does not really teach humility and positive attitudes, and as the authors point out, critical analysis is considered a sign of scholarship. In such situations, the ear is closed to good ideas.
So I'd argue that consultants are a very important force in the world, the marriage counsellors in organizations, and can play a big role in changing people's lives for the better (or worse).