01 July 2006
the worst thing being an adult is realizing that most of theories in the intellectual world could not be implemented in reality. especially if we are talking about management theories.
i grow up reading a lot of management books, biz magazines (including HBR, etc.). years ago i decided to take biz school; which i eventually really did. i know some friends who have the same 'interest' about theories.
working for about 8 years, i really have a vague feeling about whether a nice theory really could be implemented in the workplace. i have been working in some 'good' companies, and despite the hard effort by the various levels employees (from high level management to the executors in the front line) to implement a cool new management theory...it's very hard to see whether it works or not. practically, workplace is more like clusters of many groups trying to survive...we could claim we have been implementing A or B....Fortune or BusinessWeek would cover the story about how successful your company is by using the A or B management system...but somehow i felt that is just a result of marketing and public relation work.
couple months ago, i met a long-time friend (he was a good disciple of any new trend in management too) who is now a sales manager in auto company. he told me a story how he throw a young consultant- fresh foreign mba graduate- away from his meeting room. my friend is so sick that the consultant tried to push him to implement a new management theory with all the data measurement, system and of course, IT digitization, to solve his problem....my friend said as far as he remembered in the last five years they have been trying everything recommended by different consultants: balance score card, ERP, CRM, TQM..just put all the three-letter acronym there... none of them works
as a person who craved management theories (and more-less is working in that field) i could understand my friend's frustration; even though i don't agree 100% with him
but again, i really think that to claim a theory is successful in implementation is very hard to be seen in reality...the environment is so dynamic...the influencing variables are too vary...it is so hard to isolate a real condition to claim the result is X because we implement that or this...
i think, in the end we and companies are just trying to survive...try to do many things we know just to keep us alive...and let an expert works a cool name on it and make sure the media loves the name
ps. the last paragraph was taken from my other friend who said yesterday that "a management guru is someone who advises us the most obvious thing for us to do, and then called it with a really cute name."