Following Management Fads

The leaders of government programs are just as likely as the leaders of industry to follow management fads. These are the messages that suggest there is an easy path towards organizational success–if they only apply themselves to learning X-number of steps, X-kind of actions, X concepts, etc., etc.

A little known study was performed and published in the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance in 1997. The researchers, Brickley, Smith, and Zimmerman, demonstrated how many of the popular management fads resulted in insufficient results, poor return on investment, or even unwanted consequences. The common thread of failure was a lack of discipline in the methods. They lacked the ability to be comprehensive, given the complexity of the organizations, and they lacked the adaptability to fit changes in people, technology, and operational opportunities.

The worse part of these fads is their psychological effect on employees. When leaders attempt fads and fail, the results can demoralize employees, especially if they feel bounded to operational distortions and that their leaders misplaced their efforts. It is a human calcification that has no organizational value.

I suggest that emerging, successful leaders of organization will avoid the partial, quick, fad-based attempts at fixing symptoms of problems; instead, they will apply a discipline for sustaining maturity of the capabilities that drive performance.

In practice, such disciplines lead to the notable solutions, such as the Amazon.com-like customer engagements. These are Performance Architectures. It is the merging of advanced engagement media, embedded operational analyses, and on-the-job employee training. The result is a work environment where the leaders can sustain improvements in performance capabilities and outcomes.

Can you resist the fads and develop an alternative discipline?

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One Response to Following Management Fads

  1. George Deryckere says:

    Good thoughts, it gets boring getting all ramped up on new programs promising the impossible. I say impossible because as the article states above there are not any quick fixes. I always like the analogy of a tree, you need good solid roots, without that you’ll fall over on the first windy day.

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