Thinking About Management Stuff

June 29, 2010

Something made me think about some of the management-related things I have read, and issues I have thought about, that were cool.


☛  Wick Skinner, “The Accomplishing Manager: Versatile and Inconsistent, Harvard Business Review

☛  H. Edward Wrapp, “Management By Walking Around,” Harvard Business Review

☛  Bob Hayes, “Managing Our Way to Economic Decline,” Harvard Business Review

☛  Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive

☛  ??? ???? an ATT Exec, ???? ?????, appendix on thinking differences …

I can see the book in memory, white paperback, orange title lettering, and the appendix at the end that was as valuable as the entire rest of the inch-thick book … theme was cooperative systems … a concept that deals with the aspects different kinds of organizations have in common, and the aspects that must be designed, measured, and managed … not just businesses, but also not for profits, regulated utilities, maybe governments, maybe family units, don’t remember just how wide a swath he took … all my life since reading both the main book and the fabulously insightful appendix, i thought of any pair or group activity as a “cooperative system” … don’t remember if the author made it that general … when you read it, you think over and over again, uh right, yep, right, absolutely, i knew that but never thought about it, … be verbalizes many many things about organizations that we “know” from experience, but don’t “know” at a generalized conceptual level … it’s a life changer … like any strong concept, it changes one’s view of an area from being a continuing chaos of a gazillion individual facts into a MUCH smaller number of principles that are always operating creating what appears to be chaos, but isn’t … then he does it again in the brilliant appendix for the different ways people think and how that shows up in difficulties or ease, effectiveness or ineffectiveness, of groups … read it in 1979 – 1981 … was written long before that … at the time, i felt it was still timely/timeless, was dealing with principles related to human nature that weren’t going to go away … but in 1981, the world wasn’t as small and internet and satellites weren’t around yet, gen x/y/z changes not yet, so it would take another read or at least a scan to know if it still seems timeless in 2010 … i’d recommend investing the time if finding out … i’d bet it’s ok …

if there are flaws, and i doubt it, i have a feeling that, like reading some other older things — like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People and other 20th century self-help books that are very wise human-wise, but don’t have the benefit of gender, racial, other diversity, gen x, technology, and other 60’s thru 90’s progress — this book will be VERY valuable if the reader simply revises the authors’ examples and word choices in their minds for those changes …

the author was an exec with one of the pre-divestiture bell operating companies, maybe new england bell telephone … but name and title not coming to mind yet … google maybe on cooperative systems … there’s the name … chester barnard … the functions of the executive

☛  Ted Levitt, The Marketing Concept. Kind of hard to believe today, but there was a time before Harvard’s Ted Levitt had verbalized the idea of marketing to explain what people were doing and give those efforts and expenditures a much more comprehensive, powerful, and effective thinking focus.

☛  Article or articles by one or two guys at Royal Dutch Shell, something like “scenario planning”, Harvard Business Review … googling … right … the names are pierre wack and arie de geus …

☛  Kenich Ohmae, The Mind of the Strategist

☛  guy from silicon valley who verbalized the word of mouth, street-wise tech marketing principles, … googling on “silicon valley marketing guru” … up pops a hit with, ta da! … regis mckenna … brilliance blending individual, social, tech, biz, word of mouth, generating a buzz … i associate the term, guerilla marketing, with him (with the idea of guerilla marketing being getting lots of attention and interest and involvement without much dollars going out the door for traditional relatively unfocused and relatively very inefficient advertising and other expensive stuff, and so on) … actually i think his book is called guerilla marketing

☛  Michael Porter’s groundbreaking works.  The first was Competitive Strategy.

☛  This kind of list is not complete without getting an understanding of business policy.  Don’t know who the experts are today, but C. Roland Christensen was the giant when I was at the school.  Given the nature of business policy, probably what he wrote then is still right today.  The nature, creation, value, use, management, and evolution of policy is one of those I consider, in my life, to be a measure of maturity and understanding of the world.  We many who don’t create policy, but only bump into policies everywhere, only understand them at one level.  Being on the other side of policy, sharing the viewpoint of those who make and maintain policy, is a “world is flat” vs. “world is round” kind of thing.  Obvious in some ways, not so obvious in others … at least it was that way for me … for a long time, i considered BP, business policy, boring and not where the action is … i learned it’s the only place the action is … where purpose and activities and spelled out for practical use …  hmm … i’m getting hooked into a verbalization excursion here … let’s not do that now … that’s a discussion for another time …


☛  Those, in my mind, are sort of in a class of their own.  They sort of create a pretty much unchanging foundation  of perspectives and principles (not necessarily application details and examples which can change with time) from which to work with the never-ending conceptual and information explosion that results from companies selling “new” ideas that aren’t really new just to sell products, authors and publishers trying to sell books, and professors and consultants selling ideas because of “publish or perish” tenure, reputation, and/or consulting/boardsOfDirectors/equityOwnership motivations (as opposed to motivations to identify, emphasize, repeat, and apply the pretty much timeless and pretty much unchanging aspects of complex and ever-unfolding reality).


☛  Within that explosion, there are lots of others who are very good.  I’m not current now, but there are a few I knew and remember.  Covey’s good.  Senge’s good.  Kawasaki’s good.  Peters is good.  A lot of people are good for different types and aspects of cooperative activity … that’s why TOC is important to have along with any or all of the others …


☛  the theory of constraints (TOC) books, of course, provide a smart core logical process to use in evaluating, picking choosing, adapting, combining, and applying the ever-present cacaphony of old and new “best practices” in parallel with inventing one’s own new simplest, most comprehensive, and best solutions and practices for one’s own dynamic, complex, and important situations.  guess which view i was promoting just a little bit more than the other ones i liked. 😉

july 10


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