I recently walked through the “business section” at Waterston’s Manchester branch and was simply staggered by the number of “expert” books on “leadership” “culture change” “emotional intelligence” and every other subject that you might consider to be directly or indirectly related to the effective running of organisations.
Similarly visit any bookshop at an airport and you will find it stacked high with “management” books…………surely you would have to be in a desperate state to want to start buying and even reading a management book on a flight.
Perhaps it is about the international businessmen feeling that they have to justify their business class seats by giving the impression that they are doing something business related.
But back to the books………….given that these books have been produced for over 50 years now one would think that they would have had a major impact upon organisational performance yet one has only to read the business press and magazines to see articles about “crisis in leadership” “poor employee engagement” “lack of staff motivation” “poor communication in organisations” “bullying and harassment rife” (recent NHS reports) “failure to deliver customer service”………the list is almost endless.
So here is the question………”how come all these management books are bought, MBA students turned out by the thousand by universities not to mention the millions of business studies students that emerge each year, yet the same old organisational problems seem to make an almost annual appearance?”
As someone once said to me when I was running a management workshop “isn’t management simply about applying common sense?” to which my response was “if that is the case why do so many people get it wrong?’
One of the simplest definitions I have heard about management is that “it is about applying common sense to uncommon situation” and I particularly like that.
I have a theory that most organisations function in spite of themselves, that if they just left the workforce alone to get on with things, trusted them and allowed them to use their initiative they would find that the organisation would probably function more effectively.
Instead organisations will saddle staff with performance management, appraisal (never works!), employee engagement and motivational “training” plus any number of other wacky ideas that emanate from some of the leading management thinkers.One of the few books that has had a real impact on me because of the radical approach taken to management by its author is Maverick!: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace – Ricardo Semler.