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This review is from: Uncommon Sense, Common Nonsense: Why some organisations consistently outperform others (Paperback)
Challenging corporate orthodoxy is a fun thing to do. However most popular management literature tends to reinforce orthodoxy. Occasional foraging in provocative territory is rarely profound and often ends at the catchy title or undue generalization of some special case or other. This book is an exception. Goddard and Eccles argue that prevalent management models are dated and dangerous and provides delightfully contrarian perspectives in the form of brief assertions, that the authors skilfully defend. Here are my favorites:
* Firms outperform their competitors by aiming to be different, not better
* Losers look to competitive benchmarks rather than their own imagination for their model of success
* Success is best measured by added value not profit
* The greatest threats to corporate performance are internal not external
* A strategy is not a plan of attack but an idea under study
* Strategy belongs more naturally to the crowd than to the professional
* Strategy is more dependent on courage and humility than talent and charisma
* The need for extraordinary management suggests a poorly designed organization
* Everything important happens at the end of chaos
* Companies underestimate the power of intrinsic motivation
* Tapping the collective intelligence of the organization creates value
* Statements of corporate values trivialize ethics and demean employees
* Firms underestimate the collective wisdom of their employees
* Firms would benefit from becoming more open societies.
* Conversations rather than meetings are the units of organizational effectiveness
* Learning how to learn more effectively is the challenge of our times
* Listening without judging creates the context for organizational learning
Every one of the above is controversial. That's the very point of the book.
The authors are deliciously sarcastic on what fosters a culture of compliance and its buzzwords such as organizational alignment, professional standards, financial incentives, shared values, competitive benchmarking, best practice, operational excellence (which they call doorknob polishing!). They argue that although global forces are calling for less management, companies are slow in taking in the changing nature of work. They provide an excellent defense of the discovery process, open and subjective agendas and plenty of inspiring corporate examples.
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