The Economist on “Management Gurus”

One of the reasons why I created Squeezed Books was to “deflate” some of the hot air present in many business books, so I particularly enjoyed The Economist’s cynical take on “management gurus”:

The three habits of highly irritating management gurus

The first is presenting stale ideas as breathtaking breakthroughs

The second irritating habit is that of naming model firms. Mr Covey littered his speech in London with references to companies he thinks are outstandingly well managed, including, bizarrely, General Motors’ Saturn division, which is going out of business.

The gurus routinely ignore such basic precautions as providing a control group.

The third irritating habit is the flogging of management tools off the back of numbered lists or facile principles.

And their conclusion is spot on:

Which points to the most irritating thing of all about management gurus: that their failures only serve to stoke demand for their services. If management could indeed be reduced to a few simple principles, then we would have no need for management thinkers. But the very fact that it defies easy solutions, leaving managers in a perpetual state of angst, means that there will always be demand for books like Mr Covey’s.

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