I read many books about management and leadership, but I have to admit this book is by far the best and most comprehensive I have ever been in contact with. It is well written with many good examples and easily read as it is written for people outside the academic world. I can highly recommend this for all people managers.
The failure of management during the financial crisis is according to Julian Birkinshaw not only some CEOs losing control of their organizations. It is a deeply flawed model of management that encouraged bankers to pursue opportunities without regard for the long-term consequences and putting their own interests ahead of those of their employers, and shareholders. The same story has been staged in lots of companies that have been suffering from a failure of management.
According to the author management is today struggling to do the job it was intended to do.
1. Today management as a profession is not well respected. 2. Employees are unhappy with their managers. 3. There are no positive role models.
In order to find out what is wrong then Julian Birkinshaw sets up the definition of management according to Wikipedia: Management is the art of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives.
In this definition there are no words about planning, organization, staffing or controlling which often is associated with the term management. There is absolutely nothing about hierarchy or bureaucracy. This is important for the author because management is a social endeavour for getting people to come together to achieve goals that they cannot achieve on their own. In his opinion the word management has gradually become corrupted or infected or tainted during the last 100 years. His experience is that managers typically are regarded as low-level bureaucrats who are "internally focused, absorbed in operational details, controlling and coordinating the work of their subordinates and dealing with office politics".
A big blow to management was the rise of "leadership". It has the interest of writers and people who are responsible for staff.
Professor Birkinshaw asks: Why is motivating people not a part of a manager's job? He also states that "doing things right" versus "doing the right things" is a nice play of words but we should all be doing both.
The starting point is a strong Management Model described by Julian Birkinshaw as: The choices made by the executives of a firm regarding how they define objectives, motivate effort, coordinate activities, and allocate resources - in other words, how they define how work of management gets done.
First a company has to make the choices on how it will be perceived when running its business. Think about the airline industry where you have all kind of business models from the business only airlines, to the low cost and charter businesses. Google with an informal, university like model, Microsoft with a more hierarchal structure. Yet, they are all competing in the same market place.
I would suggest that managers read this book very carefully. There is so much learning in it and so many ideas to be tested and used. Probably the best management book of 2010
The cult of leadership won't solve the challenges companies are facing today. Companies require management innovation to overcome years of neglecting management as a critical aspect of a vital company.
Julian Brikinshaw defines for us what management needs to be in order for companies to compete effectively, evolve over time, and thrive in the long term. The first sentence of the book simultaneously reveals what it's about while challenging corporate leaders - "...what management is, why it's important, and how you can generate competitive advantage for your company by taking it seriously."
The ongoing tumult in the business world has finally exposed the weaknesses resulting from an overall lack of serious attention to management. As Birkinshaw points out, management can and should be reinvented to be a more effective agent of economic progress while better meeting the needs of employees.
His four dimensions of management dealing with activities, decisions, objectives, and motivation provide for making a simple yet comprehensive model for management. But unlike too many advocates of their particular solution or framework, this model is not the prescription, but the means for discovering your company's best management solution.
First, your company's management model needs to be explicitly defined to develop an internal awareness of its management as is. Next is to innovate its way of managing, configuring it for the unique context of your company. This makes your company's management model distinctive to serve as a means of developing competitive advantage. In this light, management becomes a facet of a business to be attended to in much the same way as its offerings - something to be continuously improved and innovated - ultimately to create greater value for the company's customers.
Birkinshaw provides assessment guidance to aid you in determining the type of management your company currently employs. He then provides models of management that characterize four distinct but "meaningful and coherent patterns of activity" to demonstrate the broad but realistic possibilities for managing a company. Finally he ends with guidance for the non-CEO and CEO on how to innovate their management model - whether of a team or a whole company.
Reinventing Management contributes significantly to the growing body of knowledge and movement to regard management as much an aspect of a company to be designed as its offerings, processes, business models, and organization.
I have long admired Professor Birkinshaw's work at LBS MLab and found his book both a record of what enlightened companies have achieved and, more important, how others might build a better future to meet the changing world of Gen Y.