The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong Hardcover – 11 Sep 2009
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Gleefully revealing the magician's tricks, Stewart takes readers on a whirlwind tour of how this industry came to be a powerhouse. Filled with fascinating insider anecdotes and featuring a who's who in the consulting world, including Peter Drucker, Michael Porter and Bruce Henderson, this wry, absorbing book will enlighten executive about the value consultants bring to their clients.
A devastating bombardment of managerial thinking and the profession of management consulting. As a former management consultant, Mr. Stewart lived long enough in the belly of the beast to know its nature. --Philip Delves Broughton
At last, a book that knocks the Kings of Consulting off their thrones. The Management Myth is a rare and often very humorous expose on the shenanigans behind the corporate empire that has catapulted us down the current road to economic turmoil. --John Perkins, best-selling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of the American Empire
Filled with fascinating insider anecdotes and featuring a who's who in the consulting world... this book will enlighten executives.
At last, a book that knocks the Kings of Consulting off their thrones. The Management Myth is a rare and often very humorous expose on the shenanigans behind the corporate empire that has catapulted us down the current road to economic turmoil. --John Perkins, best-selling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of the American Empire"
Filled with fascinating insider anecdotes and featuring a who's who in the consulting world... this book will enlighten executives. "
From the Back Cover
Praise for The Management Myth At last, a book that knocks the Kings of Consulting off their thrones. The Management Myth is a rare and often very humorous expose on the shenanigans behind the corporate empire that has catapulted us down the current road to economic turmoil. John Perkins, best-selling author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man and The Secret History of the American Empire Filled with fascinating insider anecdotes and featuring a who s who of the consulting world . . . this book will enlighten executives. Publishers WeeklySee all Product description
Top customer reviews
The author is surprisingly well read for a management consultant and very honest - his descriptions of the industry, its shortcomings and the driving forces behind it all ring true. The exposes of Taylor and Mayo and their complete fabrication of facts supporting their theories came as a bit of a surprise - we were certainly still taught that their word was gospel in my management education. As for the other gurus he criticises (from Drucker, Porter, Peters, Collins), he is also pretty much spot on but there I found less of a surprise, having been through the issues with some of their work before. He is pretty even handed overall - commending some of the authors' work (like Drucker's Managing For Results (Drucker series)) but pointing out the methodological, as well as practical shortcommings of most other of their work, which often reads as a nice fable, where one should not look to closely, lest the mirage be destroyed by ugly reality.
The history of management education in nicely intertwined with the rest, as is a basic history of management consulting as a profession. If you are looking for exhaustive discourse on any of those topics, the book is not for you - this is done more from the author's personal perspective, where examples are used to support his overall story (they ring true for sure but the author does not purport to conduct a comprehensive analysis of everything mentioned in the book).
What would make the book a bit better in my opinion is to include a page or so on the uses management consultants get put to - i.e. why they are hired in the first place, where the author falls a bit short, compared to his quite up to the point analysis of the purpose of positioning management as a science, as well as of the motivations behind business schools.
Finally, the book will probably appeal to management consultants (the ones who do not have overly inflated views of themselves), and those who were - or alternatively to those executives who do not hire consultants and with good reason. For the ones who buy into the myth lock stock and barrel, there is little hope and they will not seek it out here to begin with.
It is largely about management consulting in the financial services sector and, taken as such, does offer a glimpse into why that sector combined to lead the whole world into a global credit crunch, perhaps also offering a glimpse of why that sector remains unbloodied and unbowed.
Many consultants have taken it as a personal attack on their profession, which perhaps speaks more about their current lack of security in their own tenure than anything contained in the book does.
Matthew Stewart makes a good case for managers needing to learn how to manage themselves by studying philosophy and applying a little common sense but I doubt it will stem the tide of MBA knocking at corporate doors. People want to believe there is a science of management and maybe there is, but it is still a science in its infancy as Stewart exposes.
I also took the time and effort of getting an MBA half-way through my career. I was then motivated, as much now, by trying to find a deeper understanding and a 'system' behind all the practical chaos of everyday management challenges. I must say I got then what I was looking for, or so I thought... For one, I did get to understand much of that management blurb I was coming across in my work, and became skilled enough to produce quite some good one of my own.
Nevertheless, the deeper understanding that I had thought I had achieved continued to clash against my day-to-day experience - the chasm between the 'as is' and 'to be' just seemed to get greater for as much effort I was putting in to try to close it.
Perhaps I should have read this book (had it been written) just after my conclusion of my studies. The greatest insight of this book for me is that most management theory, purported as scientific, is actually based on so little factual evidence and more often than not on outright fabrications. Stewart carefully deconstructs many of the theories of great management gurus of the 20th century, from Taylor to Mayo, from Peters to Porter to show what is factual (very little) and what is wishful thinking disguised as scientific theory (very much). He does so by keeping a fairly balanced and fact-based account, quoting published research as well as his own.
Stewart also intertwines his critique of management thinking with his own personal story as management consultant, which also provides additional insights in the practical, day-to-day life of such professionals and how they come to play such a significant role in modern corporate life, despite having surprising so little to offer in terms of specific, in depth expertise (or oftentimes precisely for that reason...). In that he brings about some hilarious casts of characters and funny stories that make also for very pleasurable and entertaining reading.
I have bought a few copies of the book, which I am gift-distributing selectively to colleagues and friends. The first recipients were those in my team who are very keen to develop their careers further by taking an MBA course. I accompanied my gift with the recommendation to take the course, and with the big caution to take all that comes with it with a large pinch of salt...
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The criticisms of Taylor, Mayo, Drucker, Peters etc.Read more
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