Useful and interesting overview of management tools

Surveys show that the most frequently used management tools – benchmarking, strategic planning, mission statements, customer relationship management, outsourcing, and the balanced scorecard – all have dismal satisfaction ratings, according to Jeremy Hope and Steve Player in their book Beyond Performance Management: Why, When and How to Use 40 Tools and Best Practices for Superior Business Performance.

Most management tools are either badly chosen or poorly implemented, according to the authors. The book aims to re-examine and re-present 40 different management tools and practices for a new management age. The tools and practices are grouped into five categories: strategic planning, shareholder and customer value, lean cost management, performance measurement and performance evaluation. For each of the tools and practices, the authors provide a description and assessment of effectiveness, an explanation of the possible benefits, and a list of actions that you should and should not take to maximise the potential of the tool or practice.

The authors list positives and negatives for each of the tools and practices, so it is hard to pin down their specific preferences. However, I gained the strong impression that they feel that “command and control” style management is bad, “empower and adapt” is good. Strategic planning is past its use-by date because it is “command and control” and the world moves too quickly nowadays, but the balanced scorecard is good provided it is used to “empower and adapt” and not to “command and control”. Lean anything (manufacturing, services, accounting) and rolling forecasts are good, but budgets and Enterprise Resource Planning systems are bad. Executive bonuses are bad, but profit-sharing schemes are good.

Most managers who have experience with a range of the tools and practices covered in the book will find some areas of disagreement with the authors. Perhaps inevitably because of the scope of the book, those interested in investigating a single tool may find that the book does not cover it in sufficient depth. Nonetheless, the book provides a very useful and interesting overview.

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