“But this is OLD stuff!”

At a recent seminar I passed out material on organizational models from the late 1970s and early 1980s.  One of the participants exclaimed, “This is so old,” as if she was being cheated.  In the ensuing discussion it became clear to me that some of the seminar attendees were there for “the latest and greatest” information, concepts, tools and technique, ready to disregard or devalue earlier works.

I could not disagree more.  Some work is timeless.  The works of  Kast & Rosenwig, Wil Schutz, Hersey & Blanchard and many others are as applicable today as they were when they came about in the early stages of the organizational development field.  Being old is not necessarily bad.

It seems like there is a desire to keep developing newer things, and that is taking place to the point that there are, for instance, loads of change management methodologies, but when you look at them you find that they are simply versions of the same themes and components:  sponsorship, resistance, culture, assessing, planning, implementing, evaluating, etc.  In many cases “new” is simply a re-hashing or re-naming of “old”.

I have been handling this by showing application and relevance to their work situations and even comparing the old material with other newer versions.

Anybody out there experiencing this reaction when working with organizations and/or skilling up people?

Discussion is welcome.

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2 Comments

  1. Sheila Cox says:

    Mitch – You are so right! Many of the “latest” ideas and books are simply a re-packaging of older ideas. Better to go directly to the source! The last I checked, Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” was still selling at Amazon.
    Sheila

  2. Thomas Powell says:

    Harry Truman said, “The only thing new is the history you don’t know.” Every issue a leader could ever have to deal with has been handled before by others, a thousand times over.

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