Thursday, 21 October 2010

Missing, presumed dead: the eighth most stupid management fad

A recent post on BNET (The CBS Interactive Business Network) listed what the author (and he's written for Computer Gaming World and Men's Health magazine, so he's clearly a managerial heavyweight) names as the eight most heinous, stupid, painful and useless management fads that you'll ever encounter.

BNET: The 8 Stupidest Management Fads of All Time
He'd evidently got bored or run out of steam by the time that he got to number eight, but here are the other seven manifestations of managerial madness:

1. Six Sigma
Improve the quality of your processes by identifying and removing the causes of defects. You assign various people different colored “belts” (like a karate class) based upon their expertise in the Six Sigma methodology.

2. Business Process Re-engineering
Analyze the workflows and processes within your organization and rework them to achieve a defined business outcome.

3. Matrix Management
Temporarily pool people with similar skills for discrete work assignments. For example, all engineers may be in one engineering department and report to an engineering manager, but these same engineers may be assigned to different projects and report to a project manager while working on that project. Therefore, each engineer may have to work under several managers to get their job done.

4. Management by Consensus
Make important decisions with the agreement of everybody in the group. Proposals should be collaboratively developed, and full agreement is a primary objective. Consensus management is usually seen as an alternative to “top-down” decision making common inside hierarchical organizations.

5. Core Competency
Focus on the one thing that your firm does better than anyone else.  That will make your strategy difficult for competitors to imitate and keep your organization from wasting time doing things that they’re not very good at.

6. Management by Objectives
Define objectives within an organization so that management and employees agree to what is required of them and understand where they are placed in the organization. Then compare the employee’s actual performance with the standards set and agreed upon.

7. The Search for Excellence
Solve business problems with as little business process overhead as possible, and empower decision-makers at multiple levels of a company.

I suspect that most of the highly intelligent readers of HR Case Studies will be aware that the author's descriptions are so much of a caricature that they are either misleading or in some instances plain wrong, but hey it's the end of the week so we need a bit of light entertainment, don't we!

More importantly, we need to find a replacement for the eighth management fad that we've cast overboard.

So dear readers: what's the daftest management fad that we still cling to but we really need to consign to the dustbin of history?

You may turn over and begin . . .


  1. Why, dear Editor, do you not summarise his eighth management fad – Management by God? Censorship does not become you.
    Whether it be god or mammon – I’m sure there are managers whose actions are shaped by the altar at which they worship. Depending on your beliefs you may find their approach stupid or useless.


  2. EBTG: I decided to omit his "Management by God" comment because it seemed to be rather forced, and to claim that Savonarola was a management guru (or even an antiseptic cream) is plain bonkers!

    Plus it provided an opportunity for readership input!

  3. I found that article to be so low in value, I couldn't even be bothered to register to give the author feedback. Most of those "fads" have value in them, but the results, like most other things, are all dependent on execution.

  4. Dwayne:

    Thanks for your comment. I have to confess that my expectations of an article with controversial but nevertheless well thought out views were dashed by the end of the first paragraph. I actually doubt if the author has ever spent significant time in any organisation that has introduced such fads.

    On the one hand that does at least provide an opportunity for a half-serious discussion on up-like-a-rocket-down-like-a-stick management fripperies, but on the other hand it does also reveal that a vast amount of what masquerades on the internet as informed comment is actually hastily cobbled-together and ill thought-out predudice and opinion.