Review

There must be a better way

By Stefan Stern, 23 March 2010

Time to ask a blunt question: is management part of the problem, or part of the solution? If it is true that the financial crisis is too good an opportunity to waste, and that “we must not go back to business as usual”, then managers will have to start doing some things differently. But which things? And how radically should they change their act?

Some business leaders will feel that they are simply too busy to stop and worry about how they manage. As the old City of London quip has it, management is what you do when the markets close. Impatience with abstract agonising over management can provoke the traditional cry: “Why can't everybody just shut up and get on with their work?” Maybe we can leave worrying about management to another day.

But this will not do. As a book* published this week argues, the recent collapse of a few financial institutions was merely an extreme example of more general failure. The time has come, says the author, Julian Birkinshaw, a professor at London Business School, to reinvent management altogether.

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* Reinventing Management, by Julian Birkinshaw (Jossey-Bass)
stefan.stern@ft.com
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Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.

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