Management Fads

If you think trends are just for fashion, think again. The business world is full of trends and styles and within those trends and styles are “wisdom du jour”. Sure, there are many principles that are tried and true and never age. There are also many that come and go or are re-packaged standards.

Witness business integration. Top-down business integration was all the rage in the 80’s. The theory was that if a business could own and control everything related to its product from its raw materials, its design, production and manufacturing, marketing and distribution, it could reap all the rewards gained from the incremental added value or costs those factors entailed. Every middle man in the process takes a cut in the production cycle adding cost to the product and reducing the amount of control a company has over that stage of the process. Makes sense.

Today, integration is a bad word and divestment is in. A company should stick to its “core competency”. Anything else is a distraction. A company in the business of selling paper cups should do just that. It should buy the paper from the open market getting the best price at the time. Printing should go to a printer leveraging its specialty and hopefully better economies of scale. Relying on outside vendors gives the company freedom to scale up or down as dictated by the market. Also makes sense.

Which is better depends on the company. It depends on the product, on the current regulatory environment and many other things.

Management principals are the same. Why is it that there are so many management books on the market? They can’t all have something unique to say. An Amazon query of its books with the word “management” returned 472,401 hits and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t nearly completed reading a third of them! I have to admit that I was a book junkie but I have noticed something about what I’m reading and that is a similar concept as the trends with corporate integration vs. divestment. It is the “wisdom du jour.”

Here is my observation and it is in the form of a question. How many times have you read or heard, for example, “they succeeded because they were on top of their employees” and then seen the exact opposite “they failed because they didn’t give their employees enough freedom?”

My inclination is that success is due to success and failure to failure. Reading ‘wisdom du jour’ can only give me ideas but rarely dictate practices.

Image result for dilbert startup

For some serious analysis, here is an interesting article about management fads:


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