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The Witch Doctors Hardcover – Dec 1996

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (Dec. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812928334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812928334
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.3 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 344,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Sept. 2001
Format: Paperback
This book really presents a summary of all of the key 'new ideas' in management and strategic thinking over the past 50 years - for better or worse. It starts off a little sensationalistic: 'All consultants are bad, and no ideas are new' - but then goes into some clear detail as to what the main ideas were, why they work, and what their limitation are. It's written in frank, easy prose, and I love the fact that the guy they seem to endorse most is Peter Drucker - a 90 year old whose books span 5 decades and never seem to date.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quintessential Micklethwait (The Economist), he pulls the covers off of management consulting - albeit in the mid 1990s - and provides a cutting criticism of the industry's ups and downs. I hope a revised version is in the mix - discussion of re-engineering made me feel ridiculously old - but have yet to hear. Fingers crossed...
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Dec. 1997
Format: Hardcover
The book is a must read for the top managemet who are concerned about their business.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 38 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Warms the cockles of this management consulting cynic. 28 Feb. 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For those workers in the trenches who have recently found themselves downsized due to the latest round of "re-engineering,".....

For those frustrated managers who have had just one too many management consultants imposed upon them by paranoid executives.......

For those paranoid executives who feel they need to hire the "latest and greatest" consultants to stay ahead of the competition.......

.....You must read this book.

Written by two staff editors of the economist, this book reveals the charlatanism surrounding the management consultant industry, and how the growth of the industry has led to the imposition of new management techniques which may be entirely irrelevant to the enterprise, its workers, and the shareholders. The prose is what you would expect from The Economist - pragmatic, and easy to read.

The conclusions are straightforward and hard to ignore.

As one of the senior Editors at The Economist warned the authors while they were writing the book: "You know what worries me about your book about management theory: that you'll talk to all the people and read all the books; that you will detail all its incredible effects - the number of jobs lost, the billions of dollars spent, and so on. And you won't say the obvious thing: that it's 99 percent bullshit. And everybody knows that" (from the prologue).

Indeed, if everybody read this book, his statement would ring true
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The best summary on management theory there is 6 Jan. 2004
By piethein coebergh - Published on
Format: Paperback
Great fun, great wit, great journalism. These guys started off as outsiders but they clearly are top-class journalists: they truly captured all the "strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats" that all the true, semi or fake gurus have produced since Taylor, Sloan and Drucker. A must have!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The best management book ive read 26 July 2002
By Buysbrats - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Would recommend this book strongly to two sets of people:
1. All those who feel they do not read enough about management
2. My B-school strategy professors that tried to treat books by gurus as bibles
After working in companies that have consistently outperformed the market, my conclusion is that good managements are those that have the ability to learn about the environment all by their own and have the knack to apply it well bt themselves. No consultant or management guru can ever know a company's business better than its employees do. The best the gurus can ever do is mouth generalities. All of management theory is ephemral, transient. It is good to know concepts and use them sparingly and caringly.
This book validates what ive been feeling for a long time.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
An excellent analysis of "the Management Theory spectrum" 11 Nov. 2001
By James Hunt - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This book provides a clear-thinking analysis of the wide spectrum of management theories and applications, and points to several very important limitations inherent in the modern management consultancy industry.
In particular, it exposes:
1. the unnecessary promotion of business and management 'jargon'
2. the excessive tendency towards pursuing the latest 'fad'
3. the reluctance to look beneath the surface of ideas or concepts, in order to analyse them critically.
Aptly titled "The Witch Doctors", this book lifts much of the
facade from the management advice industry, providing a reasoned
evaluation of 'the workability factor' underpinning key management theories.
The book contains 14 very interesting chapters, but perhaps the
most insightful are the following four:
Chapter 2: The Management Theory Industry
Chapter 6: Knowledge, Learning and Innovation
Chapter 9: The Future of Work
Chapter 10: What Does Globalisation Mean?
Although written in 1996, this book retains much of its currency and relevancy at the beginning of the 21st century. It won the Global Business Book Award in 1996 for the best book written about strategy and leadership, and received high acclaim from the Journal of Business Strategy, arguing that it was "possibly the best-written business book of (its) decade". Even Harvard Business Review considered it "a worthy contribution" noting that "it is broad in its range of information and insights".
Perhaps its highest endorsement, however, comes from Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor of Management at Harvard Business School, and herself the author of a number of very good management and business books. She says "Read it before buying any other book!"
To the ordinary reader looking to gain relevant insights into the world of management thought, this book is an ideal tool. It is written in an easily accessible style, and doesn't necessarily require the reader to absorb it from cover to cover. Genuine insights can be gained by reviewing individual chapters in isolation.
Along with "Dangerous Company" by O'Shea & Madigan, and "The Lexus & the Olive Tree" by Tom Friedman, "The Witch Doctors" is arguably one of the most insightful business books to be released in the past 20 years.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Shock news: "Management-guru industry declared a hoax!" 1 Sept. 2000
By Magnus Lindkvist - Published on
Format: Paperback
John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge are to management fads what the little child was to the naked emperor and The Witch Doctors is their manifest. When you enter the pages of this extremely well written oeuvre you're bascially not in Management-haven, Kansas anymore. Where management literature usually dramatizes, Micklethwait and Wooldridge present a sober view and make a point of playing down the actual impact and importance of so-called Gurus. With the stealth and graceful elegance of secret service assassins, the authors meticulously work through thinkers and movements, with chapters divided for pedagogic simplicity into chronological order. Something striking is the high correlation between the chronology and the order of importance; this could be attributed to nostalgia but is more likely a result of the fact that management "thinking" has become unscrupulously popular over the last decade, with everyone from football coaches to Roseanne Barr wanting to share their secrets of success with results that, at best, can be described as mixed. It is therefore no coincidence that the final, and most enjoyable, chapter is entitled "A walk on the wild side" - a reference to the fact that many of the people that get in on the action today bear more than a little resemblance to actual witch doctors with results as often doubtful as they are deceiving. Better then to long for yesteryear when men were men and people like Charles Handy, Michael Porter and, the Godfather of management thinkers, Peter Drucker roamed free. But even in the chapters describing these earlier movements, Micklethwait and Wooldridge employ the dry, sarcastic wit that is so intimately associated with their mother magazine, The Economist. It is not that they're so much angry or accusatory as genuinely professional journalists and in era when the borders between the editorial and the commercial interests are constantly blurred, this is the least one could ask for. You may be one of those people who prefer to immerse yourself in an experience, such as watching the parade of a naked emperor or gawking at a "truly amazing behind-the-scenes look at a new movie" which is often what management seminars are all about from a metaphorical perspective. But if you don't mind, or perhaps even prefer, a tell-it-like-it-is perspective even though it may ruin your temporary immersion in something, The Witch Doctors is a rare gem. Why not test yourself; are you a channel 7-action news kind of a person or someone who takes the time to read through a daily newspaper? Do you see management seminars as a source of knowledge or as one of entertainment? And finally, do you prefer to look away when you catch an accidental glance at Mickey Mouse stripping off his costume at Disneyland to keep the illusion real or do you revel in the fact that Disneyworld is just one more commercial attraction like many others and one that, in purpose, is no different from the K-Mart down the street? If you preferred the former in each of these questions, congratulations to you and the management literature industry since Amazon and its competitors will always have rows of titles uncovering corporate "secrets", seven "brilliant" thoughts on nothing in particular and countless case studies about companies you've never heard of or will never have much in common with. If you, on the other hand, preferred the latter, The Witch Doctors is a valuable and helpful delight to read. Trivializing -sure, but not if you compare it to the way that three centuries of literature is compressed into vulgar travesties like "Chicken Soup for the fain-hearted" in this day and age.
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