The Ironic Manager Blog

An Ironic Perspective on the World of Work

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How to get the best out of original thinkers during complex change

How to get the best out of original thinkers during complex change

Our businesses are crying out for creative, original thought. But we are training it out of our children. And developing management practices that inhibit it.  

In this post, I will look at how the practices of change management are hindering original thought. And preventing the people who can best help the change succeed from being involved.  

Why are original thinkers so much more creative than the average human being? 

This is the question that has made Adam Grant famous. He's arguably the leading organisational psychologist in the world today. The youngest tenured professor at Wharton. The top-rated professor for five straight years.

He's one of the world's 25 most influential management thinkers.The author of two New York Times best-selling books. And a number one national best seller. 

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Does 70% of change fail? If so, so what?

Does 70% of change fail? If so, so what?

What do we know about organisational change ? We know that most change is step based, underpinned by Kurt Lewin's unfreeze-change-refreeze model. We know that it causes a lot of psychological and emotional stress for those experiencing it. And, according to HBR, 70% of it fails. 

But is that all true? 

Recently, we've discovered that Lewin's foundational step-based change model doesn't exist. He didn't design a model. He didn't even write unfreeze-change-refreeze. He just speculated, in a tiny minor subsection, that you might think of change like this. It was made "real" by one person telling us that's what Lewin thought ten years after Lewin's death. And then many other people assuming he wrote it (of which I was once guilty).

So, no surprise that 70% of change fails, huh? If the model sucks, then change will suck. But does it?

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You work with Irony in Management! WTF?

You work with Irony in Management! WTF?

The headline is something I hear a lot. An awful lot. How are you going to make any money out of that? Also a lot. And, to be fair, that's a pertinent question. 

I like to think my thinking is very insightful. Extremely novel. I've been told by people I trust it's potentially a game-changer. And, thanks to all the help I've had from you wonderful LinkedInners, I believe my writing is becoming pretty engaging. 

But one questions above continue to itch and wriggle. How can I use it to make the significant difference I was aiming for? Move it out of the margins and into the mainstream. For, make no mistake, that is my passion. And my goal. 

Taking research out of the academic realm and into the real world is complex and difficult. It requires a lot of extra thought. A lot of hard work. Reworking my writing style. Finding a new voice. And then making an impact. It's required posts about zombies, Apple and Steve Jobs, the death of organisational culture, tennis clubs, rock stars, my own life experiences and fears of a dystopian future. 

But I  finally feel confident I can answer the question. Irony in management? WTF?

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Is Organisational Psychology Harming Us?

Is Organisational Psychology Harming Us?

Erving Goffman once wrote, “When they issue uniforms, they issue skins.” Arlie Hochschild suggested we add "two inches of flesh".

What does this mean?

Goffman was criticising how the organisation shaped the man. That once you signed up for work, you owed your soul to the company. It determined how you should act. How you should think. How you should be. You became, as William H Whyte put it, The Organizational Man. Hence, the skin. 

Hochschild was interested in emotional work. When you were expected to fake emotions in service of customers. In her most famous work, The Managed Heart, she used airline stewardesses as an example. And there's nothing much more fake than a stewardess's smile to a tipsy customer leering at her at three in the morning!

She argued that if you faked emotions on a consistent basis, you lost touch with your real self. You couldn't tell the difference between real and faked emotions. The organisation took control of your inner self as well as the outer. Hence, the two inches of flesh. 

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Change Yourself: A Guide to Organisational Living

Change Yourself: A Guide to Organisational Living

Look, a lot of what I write is extremely critical of conventional thought. Pushes a lot of buttons. Might piss people off. 

I accept that it makes me seem grumpy and cynical. Perhaps even revel in it a little. But ultimately, my message is full of hope.

I believe there is a better way to live. We can design better organisations. Develop better managers. Inspire better leaders. We just need to face our reality. See it for what it is. Learn how to survive and thrive in it. And then take steps to improve it. 

This blog suggests a way of doing just that at a personal level. 

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Can We Help You?

The Ironic Manager seriously rethinks how organisations work at the most fundamental level and offers a variety of solutions for businesses struggling to cope with the ambiguity and stresses inherent to contemporary organisational conditions of constant change.

Richard has been helping businesses and people deal with leadership, management, communication, technology and change for over twenty years through his training, coaching, speaking and consulting services. 

His innovative research is highly regarded by world-leaders in management and leadership. 

Maybe Richard can help you?

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Over twenty years helping people managing change understand why resistance happens and develop quality vital communication skills that aid successful business transformation.


Research recognised as exceptional by world-leaders in the fields of power, leadership and organisational change, receiving considerable praise for its originality, depth and rigour.


Extensive training, coaching and mentoring experience in professional development in well-known organisations, governments and business schools across the world.


Consulting on change, transformation, culture, organisational narrative, innovation and creativity, and communications to private and public sector organizations and entities.

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The Ironic Manager website is owned and managed by Richard Claydon and Richard Badham.