‘Science advances by a series of funerals’. This is how John Brockman, founder of The Edge, and editor of a series of books puts it in one of his latest titles ‘This Idea Must Die’. I am not sure science performs those funerals well, but I am however sure that many management practices that died a while ago, have not even received a death certificate, let alone a proper funeral.
In ‘This Idea Must Die’, scientists, writers and philosophers comment on many of those ideas. To be fair, the content of the book uses a more polite and appropriate terminology: ideas that need to retire. On a note of caution, the author Ian McEwan entitles his short entry ‘Beware of Arrogance. Retire Nothing’.
I like the idea-retirement concept. After retirement there are still many years of influence left (not that I will know, because I have no plans) and many old management ideas are still influent. Perhaps too much. Perhaps they didn’t go into retirement at all. And they should.
But there are some others definitely dead, with the above caveat that some casualties may not have been officially acknowledged. Amongst these, at the top of the list is top-down management of change, change by dictation or by cascaded down communication tsunami-style.
Another category is management practices that are in Intensive Care Units (ICU). Here you’ll find many HR competency systems, and a great deal of the Employee Engagement industry. Trouble is, medicine has advanced so much that we can maintain them in the ICU for a very long time, even if they are at a terminal stage.
In reality, we have several categories: active employment, active employment but tired, retired, in need of retirement, dead (acknowledged), dead (assumed only), in ICU.
I wonder where you would put continuous improvement, benchmarking, best practices, the war on talent, agility/agile movement, traditional strategic planning and others.
Please report so that we, collectively, can send flowers and cards.
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