Is there no middle ground? You say that Kegan paints it as a binary (“nothing inside the range of what we think of as a normal workplace”). But you suggest that kaizen is an intermediate. Your summary as two phrases suggests that they are separable (“everyone talks about mistakes and improvements, and where the personal/professional boundaries are broken down”).
Also, the negative book is about how things actually work, while the positive book is about the system working as promised. But this could be cherry-picking successes. Is there any reason to believe that DDO is self-correcting? Why shouldn’t we expect the worst of both worlds, implementations with the face of a DDO that actually work as describe in Moral Mazes? (which is probably what people insinuate with the word “cult”) Does the book make an argument, or does it just profile success stories?
Added: Indeed, “The Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective” talks about the discussion of emotion at business school and implies that people are faking it.
This isn’t a direct response to your question, I just had a thought about the “nothing inside the range of what we think of as a normal workplace” line.
There might be plenty of middle ground available, but I would expect virtually all of those solutions to consistently fail. I expect this because people are mostly going to continue doing what they were doing, with as few adjustments as possible. So people will usually do the same thing and just call it the new thing; or if it is an additional thing do the absolute minimum or completely ignore it; if they do have to put real effort into whatever the new thing is they will take it out of something else.
The appeal of radical solutions is that they make it very clear that both the process and the incentives have changed at the same time, so doing it the old way is impossible.