The Witch Doctors: Making Sense of the Management Gurus

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Management gurus - high-powered consulting firms, business school professors, motivational speakers who never graduated from high school - are latterday witch doctors, each promising the cure for what ails corporate America. These men and women are the sales reps for an industry that exists exclusively to peddle freshly laid management advice to petrified executives. According to one recent study, 72 percent of managers believe that the right management tools can help ensure business success, even though 70 ...
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Overview

Management gurus - high-powered consulting firms, business school professors, motivational speakers who never graduated from high school - are latterday witch doctors, each promising the cure for what ails corporate America. These men and women are the sales reps for an industry that exists exclusively to peddle freshly laid management advice to petrified executives. According to one recent study, 72 percent of managers believe that the right management tools can help ensure business success, even though 70 percent also say most of the tools promise more than they deliver. Often, the results are thousands of people losing their jobs or having their work lives irrevocably altered. But thousands of companies continue to grasp at the newest concept du jour - until the next sure thing comes along. The irony is that some of the gurus' ideas and prescriptions really can rescue or renovate your company. But until you have read The Witch Doctors, your chances of figuring out which ideas belong in your hot file and which in your circular file are slim indeed. Micklethwait and Wooldridge have organized The Witch Doctors around the management problems that plague today's corporations. They examine the promise and the problems of reengineering, and analyze what - and who - is driving the current boom in the management industry. The authors profile Peter Drucker and Tom Peters, helping you decide what the uber-gurus can teach you and what they can't. They proceed to look deeply into the social and corporate implications of every major conundrum managers and workers face today. Through unbiased, often contrarian investigations of knowledge, learning, and innovation, strategy and vision, the future of the workplace, shareholder versus stakeholder capitalism, globalization, and Japanese management, Micklethwait and Wooldridge tell you what works, what fails, and what the future may hold for those who act and those who wait. Two groundbreaking chapters examine the inroads manag
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a skeptical, entertaining, iconoclastic audit of the management-guru industry, Economist editors Micklethwait and Wooldridge focus primarily on pundits such as Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, James Champy and Michael Hammer, but also puncture the management-theory hype emanating from consultancies and business schools. Much of the advice dispensed by these sources, the authors argue, is faddish, riddled with contradictions and jargon, based on simplistic formulas, no more reliable than tribal witch doctors' medicine. They view the craze of reengineering (organizing a business around processes rather than departments) as, too often, a pretext for downsizing. Along with giving an analysis of Japan's hybrid, flexible managerial practices, they identify the phenomenally successful network of family businesses created by the overseas Chinese as an alternative model for business growth. Micklethwait and Wooldridge have built their fair-minded, balanced critique around hotly debated issues in modern management-a company's optimal size, harnessing knowledge as a resource, leaders' accountability, strategic planning, globalization-making this a useful, thoughtful tool for managers in large or small firms. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The authors, both writers for the Economist, provide here an excellent criticism of the gurus of management theory, including Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, John Naisbitt, Kenichi Ohmae, Ted Levitt, John Kay, Rosabeth Kanter, and Michael Hamner. Published offerings by corporate leaders Bill Gates and Lee Iacocca are also considered. The treatment appears relatively objective, pointing out the contradictions among the various theories. The authors examine the great commercial success of these theories and give examples of their applications. With some well-backed-up potshots at the theories, Micklethwait and Wooldridge contribute significantly to the understanding of the management fad industry. This well-written book should be read by business, governmental, and public library partrons.-Littleton M. Maxwell, Univ. of Richmond, Va.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812929881
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/27/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 399
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.19 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

Prologue
Acknowledgments
Introduction: The Unacknowledged Legislators 3
I How It Works
1 The Fad in Progress: Reengineering 23
2 The Management Theory Industry 43
II Prophet and Evangelist
3 Peter Drucker: The Guru's Guru 63
4 Tom Peters: Management as Performance Art 79
III The Great Debates
5 Rethinking the Company 95
6 Knowledge, Learning, and Innovation 119
7 Strategy: From Planning to Vision 141
8 Storm in the Boardroom 161
9 The Future of Work 186
IV The World in Their Hands
10 What Does Globalization Mean? 215
11 The Art of Japanese Management 237
12 A New Model in Asia? 258
V New Frontiers
13 Managing Leviathan: The Public Sector 277
14 A Walk on the Wild Side 304
Conclusion: An Immature Discipline 320
Notes 329
Bibliography 339
Index 347
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2000

    Read This Book before you hire a consultant

    Cuts clearly and severly into the flesh and blood of the managerial consultant industry; The flesh being the sophomoric approaches and ridiculous stimuli consultants' practice; The blood being the consultants' lifeline of mind numbing rhetoric and incomprehensible jargon. These two factors pilot many of these modern day rainmakers toward irrepoachable immunity from scrutiny. The locus they strive for (on your dime) is a self guided and prearranged buffer zone free from any type of independent measurement of their own effectiveness. Business rule of thumb: Ninety percent of consultants have no value. The remaining ten percent are worth, at minimum, 50 times their service fee. This book will give you pellucid insight into the den of hacks, transpiercing clues you can cull to easily catagorize the two sets.

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