December 28, 2011

Masters of Management by Adrian Wooldridge

Masters of Management by Adrian Wooldridge
How the business gurus and their ideas have changed the world - for better and for worse

[Book reveals stars of the business gurus and their books and relevance; but later part of the book is a repetition that we could see in any management books with same old examples].

As per Drucker, objectives are not fate, but they are direction.
C. Montgomery Burns advised on succeeding in business: "I will keep it short and sweet. Family, religion and Friendship. These are the three demons you must slay if you wish to succeed in business"

The breadth of the management industry spread across three categories: The first part that makes the other two possible, consists of business schools. The second category is management consulting business (McKinney, Accenture, Capgemeni, Boston Consulting group, etc) and the third category is guru business - the whirligig of book writing and lecture-giving that is associated with names like Gary Hamel and Jim Collins.

Often, the gurus offer the illusion that for all the complexities of the world, the answers are really rather straightforward, provided the guru is one's guide. Gurus of every stripe have tried to reduce world's complexities to simple phrases ('Core competencies', the five forces, six trends, three Cs (commitment, creativity and competition) etc.

Drucker says in 'Practice of management' that the most powerful as well as most lasting contribution America has made to Western thoughts since the Federalist papers. Gary Hamel seconded this statement by saying, " The machinery of management - which encompasses variance analysis, capital budgeting, project management, pay-for-performance, strategic planning and the like - amounts to one of humanity's greatest inventions".

Peter Drucker: The Guru's guru.
He was one of the few thinkers from any discipline who can claim to have changed the world: he was inventor of privatization, the apostle of a new class of knowledge workers, the champion of management as a serious intellectual discipline and a confidante to the world corp. elite. His last book is 'The effective executive in action'. He was credited with 'moving 75-80% of the Fortune 500 to radical decentralization". The concept of corporation (his third book) was an unashamedly passionate plea for GM to treat labor as a resource rather than just a cost center. Durcker insisted that industrial relations ought to be based on people's desire to be engaged in their job and proud of their product and he is opponent of assembly-line mentality. Druckers enthusiasm for empowerment was reinforced by his belief that the old industrial proletariat was being replaced by knowledge workers.

Drucker invented one of the rational schools of management's most successful products, 'management by objectives (MBO) an approach that dominated 'strategic thinking in the postwar decades. Organization is not an end in itself, but a means to the end of business performance and business results. Org structure must be designed so as to make possible the achievement of the objectives of the business five, ten fifteen years...

However he did not created a single area of academic management theory like Michael Porter did with strategy and Theodore Levitt did with marketing. His most famous quotations," Management is the organ of institutions - the organ that converts a mob into an organization and human efforts into performance"

Some of the countries made breakthrough into sustained growth is not because they discovered new technologies but because they invented new organization.

Tom Peters: management for the masses.

The most important sentence in the English language? I love you.
"May I clean your glasses, Sir" could be the depth of service offering. His best book 'In search of excellence' advances three arguments against the rationalist model. First. the model puts too much emphasis on financial analysis and too little on motivating workers or satisfying customers. Second, the rationalist model encouraged bureaucratic conformity at the expense of entrepreneurial innovation. Rationalist managers believe that big is best, because it brings economics of scale, that messiness is disastrous, because it means waste and confusion and that the planning is essential because it means waste and confusion and that planning is essential. Third, the rationalist model rests on a misunderstanding of human nature.

Since 2000, the management theory business has been revolutionized by the arrival of two new kinds of practitioners: journo-gurus from the world of 'big media' and academic entrepreneurs from the what business school professors might well regard as the wrong side of the tracks.


The kings of the great journo-gurus are Tom Friedman, Malcolm Gladwell and Christopher Anderson. If Friedman's talent is making sense of the most momentous development of our time, globalization, Gladwell's is for forcing us to take a fresh look at some of the commonplace of our daily lives that look not only exotic, and fascinating. Anderson's big idea was that we are moving from a world of big hits to a world of niche products. Technological innovation is removing bottlenecks in distribution that forced companies to focus on a few products. The era of one-size-fits-all is ending and in its place is something new, a market of multitudes.

Academic Entrepreneurs:

Richard Florida: Accenture put him in third place of management gurus (Michael Porter, Tom Peters, Richard Florida and Peter Drucker) where as WSJ put him into 7th place. In 'the future of success', Reich argued that we live in the age of the terrific deal. Choices are almost limitless and a better deal is always waiting around the corner, a wonderful situation for the consumer but a much more problematic one for the producer. Workers have to market themselves in order to avoid obsolescence by elephantiasis. In the age of terrific deal, economics of attention replace economics of scale as the currency of business success. What matters is the ability to attract people's attention and then to create the 'stickiness' that is the closes thing the modern world has to loyalty. If 'attention must be paid' as Willy Lomand said, the price of commanding it is endless self-publicity. In 'Supercaptialism, Reich argued that today's turbo-charged capitalism is at the same time both generating profound social problems and using its political muscle to prevent those problems from being solved. He argued that the people who are driving supercapatilism are not greedy CEOs, but you and me. Consumers are putting relentless pressure on companies to improve their quality and cut their cost.

Richard Florida: a specialist on urban studies and his carrier making book - The rise of creative class: And how it is transforming work, leisure and everyday life is an odd mixture of Michael Young's 'Rise of Meritocracy' and Candace Bushnell's 'Sex in the city'. As per him, cities that currently attract companies with lower taxes, should attract creative people instead

Howard Gardner: has been professor at Harvard for forty years. And he is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences. He argued that intelligence could be subdivided into several different types and that people who did poorly in one activity might excel in another. He argued that people who lack a command of one or more of these mental disciplines will have hard time of it(from his book - five minds for the future - disciplined, synthesizing, creative, respectful and ethical),. People who cannot synthesize will be overwhelmed by information; People who cannot create will be replaced by machines. People who lack ethics will destroy their org and eventually themselves. People who refused to respect others will poison their surroundings.

New collection of building blocks:
1. Core competencies (ref# C.K. Prahalad & Gary Hamel)
2. Renewal
3. Networking
4. Culture

Books referred in this book

"What If the Female Manager of a High-School Baseball Team Read Drucker's Management", by Natsumi Iwaski
Management, Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices by Peter Drucker
The witch doctor by Adrian Wooldridge & John M
In search of excellence by Tom Peters
The rise of the creative class : and how it's transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life by Florida, Richard L.
The future of success by Robert Reich Creating minds by Howard Gardner
In leading minds by Howard Gardner
Five minds for the future by Howard Gardner
Guru questions books:
Fad Surfing in the Boardroom: managing in the Age of Instant Answers by Eileen Shapiro
Dangerous company: The consulting powerhouses and the business they save and ruin by James O'Shea and Charles Madigan
The halo effect by Phil Rosenzweig
The management myth: debunking the modern business philosophy by Mathew Stewart

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