Theory and practice

An old saying states that “the difference between theory and practice is larger in practice than in theory”…

Maybe that’s especially true when it comes to management literature. Since decades, books telling us how we shall conduct our business or how we shall behave to become rich and happy have flooded the market. Most often they’re written by prosperous consultants and if they weren’t successful before, they definitely became, if their book became a success

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. Of course most books just pass by and leaves no mark at all. But there are a few who definitely have changed businesses such as: Michael Porter’s ‘Competeive Strategy’, Peter Senge’s ‘The fifth discipline’ or Tom Peter’s ‘In search of excellence’
. Apparently there’s now a trend to find metaphors from ancient thinkers or from old Asian philosophies and transform them into modern management thinking and present them as ‘new’.

However, there is also another trend where it seems like you’re not prosperous as a consultant or presenter/lecturer if you haven’t written a book. This is specially true for self-appointed coaches who have been to an NLP-course and after that claim that they are suitable to tell other persons how they should live their lives (even though they still having trouble to lead themselves). One might wonder if the world really needs – or will become a better place –  if there’s another NLP coach publishing his/her thoughts…

But, most interesting is why we don’t pick up biographies from entrepreneurs who have built up businesses around the world, which earn money, are true sustainable, long before the rest of the world became aware of the term sustainability, and act as role models for many companies when it comes to corporate social responsibilities

. One example is Patagonia and its founder Yves Chouinard who back in 2005 wrote ‘Let my people go surfing – the education of a reluctant businessman’. In the book Mr Chouinard explains the philosophies shared by Patagonia leaders and employees
. But this book is not as well-known as many management books written by presenters/lecturers and it isn’t literature at the universities even though Patagonia does all the things businesses strive for these days.

So why is it that we eventually prefer theory before practice?

Interview with Yves Chouinard part 1 part 2 part 3

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