3 When Memory Is a Substitute for Thinking

ORGANIZATIONS THAT FAIL to implement performance knowledge often behave as if the present were a perfect imitation of the past. And, although executives in such organizations may deny it, the ways that people are hired, socialized, promoted, and rewarded means that when newcomers join the firm, they soon act like imitations of those who came before them. People in organizations that use memory as a substitute for thinking often do what has always been done without reflecting. Even when they realize that a new problem confronts the organization, problem solving means finding practices from the organization’s past that seem right for solving the present problem. The organization’s memory, embodied ...

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