Transforming the Clunky Organization
The Agenda Mover
Samuel B. Bacharach Presents
the Clunky
Pragmatic Leadership Skills for Breaking Inertia
The second book in the Pragmatic Leadership series
Organizations, like people, get stuck!

They get ensnared in routines and processes,and they fall back into old habits. This is the dangerous period of inertia, the period that precedes failure, when organizations show signs of sluggishness.

In Transforming the Clunky Organization Samuel B. Bacharach explains why organizations fall into patterns of inertia and details the critical pragmatic leadership skills leaders need to regain organizational momentum.
Expanding on The Agenda Mover, the first book in the Pragmatic Leadership Series, Transforming the Clunky Organization offers a roadmap for individual leaders at all levels to create the agility and synergy needed for the continuous organized flow of information and the movement of ideas. This book will appeal to leaders at all levels within organizations, change-management consultants, and business-school professors.
By skillfully weaving case studies and real-world examples with academic theory, Transforming the Clunky Organization examines the four primary leadership skills associated with robust discovery and focused delivery.
Leading for Discovery
Contextual competence :
Pragmatic leaders are explorers.
They examine the current environment and read the signals that may point to future directions.
Ideational competence :
Pragmatic leaders are innovators.
They make sure that that their ideas gain traction and result in concrete innovation.
Leading for Delivery
Political competence :
Pragmatic leaders are campaigners.
They are able to marshal continuing support for their ideas, and bring even reluctant supporters on board.
Managerial competence :
Pragmatic leaders are sustainers.
They ensure execution and implementation.
With its unique approach to leadership and innovation, Transforming the Clunky Organization goes beyond traditional management prescriptions. By identifying an organization’s clunky or myopic tendency as the source of organizational inertia, Bacharach presents the concrete skills that leaders need to learn and apply to help their organizations overcome inertia and reach their potential.
What industry professionals are saying about Transforming the Clunky Organization:
The longer an organization has been in existence or the more successful they have been the greater the tendency to maintain the status quo. Convincing all employees that Change and Innovation is the only way to remain relevant in this increasingly complex world of business is a critical skill for all leaders to possess. Professor Bacharach provides practical guidance for all leaders to make sure we understand that although ‘our best was good for today, tomorrow we need to do better’
Lowell Mcadam
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Verizon Communications
Organizations are trying to disrupt themselves as they move towards Digital Transformation. In this context, organizations require agility and the ability to constantly reinvent themselves. Executives looking to lead their organizations on the road to constructive disruption and transformation should pay attention to the specific guidance provided by Professor Bacharach in this book.
V C Gopalratnam
Senior Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer of International Operations, Cisco
Bacharach (The Agenda Mover), a professor of labor-management relations at Cornell University, offers a no-nonsense, straightforward approach to surmounting what he sees as the primary organizational challenge for business leaders, namely inertia. This condition can have two sources: the “clunky tendency,” when companies are disorganized, and the “myopic tendency,” when organizations are organized in outmoded ways. The result of both these problems is that a business isn’t able to deliver goods or services as flexibly and capably as in the past. ( SHOW MORE ) In response, he contends, leaders must address five questions, including why the organization is sluggish, what other options exist, what can be done, what support is needed, and how should the chosen solution be implemented. Bacharach’s advice centers on the complementary processes of “robust discovery,” a period of openness to new ideas, and “focused delivery,” the methodical execution of the chosen idea. With both processes, he stresses the importance of reading “signals” from the market, citing as a successful example PepsiCo’s diversifying its product line into “fun for you,” “good for you,” and “better for you” categories in response to greater consumer concern with health. Through this and other useful, real-world examples, this work offers well-thought-out methods for transforming struggling businesses. (July) ( SHOW LESS )
Publisher's Weekly review
The contents of the Book gives distinct techniques required with focus on the art of leadership, which so often is neglected once an organization achieves a certain success factor. The author has cleverly articulated what it takes a business to lose the luster and destroy brand image in a short time by actions that are not strategically considered. In some instances the leadership goes in a “sleepy” mode and does not realize slow but steady deterioration of the company image and overall business value. By highlighting organizations that missed the opportunity to jump on the fast paced technology, the writer points out how vulnerable a company can be when right decisions are not made “just in time”. ( SHOW MORE )
Several examples in Transforming the clunky organization, is a rude awakening drawing attention to many fundamental traps that make an organization lethargic and unable to make progress. It takes special attention to detail when mergers and acquisitions between corporations take place and so often we see many of the key elements discussed in the book related to communication, culture, bailing too late and others totally neglected. During mergers and acquisitions, so often there is frequent communications in the beginning along with roll out of various initiatives to ensure everything goes smooth. However, these initiatives die a slow death as no plans are developed for the “stickiness” of the initiatives. Soon after the initial burst of energy the sustainability dissipates, very similar to air in a balloon, leaving the company limp and slow-moving.
Author ingeniously emphasizes the importance of change management and change adoption, without mentioning it on every page! The change management is a well-known phenomenon and a must have component for any organization to excel. It is a needed piece to be able to meet the demands of the varying global environment, customer needs/expectations and constant economy turmoil. Leadership focus on what is the actual situation and what is the desired results is needed on a constant basis. In-fact these discussions must be part of every operations or strategic meeting. The dialogues should not stop here, but should be continued in identifying next actions, future roadmap and related success metrics. A well-planned change strategy is required to ensure it leads to actual improvement.

As you go through the book, critical ideas, suggestions, examples and observations on what should be reviewed, discussed and addressed continue pouring from one page to another. These valuable insights are similar to golden nuggets, in the sense if they are considered, implemented and nurtured, the high return on investment is eminent based on earlier cases the author has cited in the beginning of the book and what we continue to observe in the industry. So often we see noteworthy processes introduced for improvements in products, services and customer perception. Hundreds of employee hours are spent on mulling over every procedure, sadly resulting in a grand failure due to poor execution. The contents of the Volume elaborates this and shares constructive concepts on how to remain agile, concentrate on innovations and motivate the staff. Attention is drawn to nurture the realization of new ideas and rewarding individuals for contributions. The culture promoting this plays a major role in employee loyalty and creating passion for the organization. The emotional intelligence needed to overcome hesitation, making the workforce achieve political savviness required to navigate through different waves of changes and management is also touched upon.
In many ways, the Volume skillfully navigates readers through first discussing problems that organizations have gone through and captures the attention of the reader, where it becomes impossible to leave the book since it awakens the curiosity and inquisitiveness as to what should be done to address these problems. The Book is a must for every leader, whether in a small or large organization, to learn techniques that will assist in ensuring their leadership stays abreast of everything to avoid following same old steps which will result into a clunky organization. Due to extensive research done on some of the well-known organizations and sharing of the facts, I am convinced the skills discussed throughout the book will awaken and enlighten the leaders globally to remain relevant.
Alka Jarvis
Distinguished Quality Engineer, Cisco
Before organizations fail they become sluggish and stuck. In this book, Bacharach specifies why inertia occurs and delineates the tactics, strategies, and leadership capacities needed to break out of inertia and avoid failure. This is essential reading for the leader who needs to move their organization from clunky inertia to engagement and innovation.
Andrew Doyle
Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer at OppenheimerFunds
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