Bookcase: Wake-up Call

The End of Management
By: Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith
Publisher: Jossey-Bass
Price: $76.95

This book is expensive and difficult to get hold of in New Zealand. Think of it as an investment and click on Amazon if you can’t be bothered ordering through your local bookshop.

Charles Handy thinks the authors have delivered “wake-up call” to managers and owners. The full title, The End of Management and the Rise of Organisational Democracy, is better indication of what you’ll find inside. As the cover suggests it “redefines management”, much to the consternation of many and jeers of others, I suspect.

Cloke and Goldsmith argue that management is an idea whose time is up. And the reason for that is simply that, people are just that. They are not “staff”, “serfs” or even “slaves”.

Traditionalists focused on bottom line performance and the omnipotence of capital won’t like much of what the authors have to say but, they have pretty accurately charted the issues at the core of today’s conflict about whether to seize short-term advantage and maximise shareholder profits or build long-term sustainable growth for employees and society as whole.

Cloke and Goldsmith advocate, in most compelling way, the creation of the “collaborative, democratic, self-managing organisation” which they believe will thrive in future. They show how corporations, government agencies, schools and nonprofits can “dramatically improve” by empowering those who work on the inside to manage themselves.

Sound too idealistic? Perhaps, but there is good deal of foresight here, accompanied by an expectation that as the world becomes more intellectually driven workplace, people will realise an ability to lead and manage themselves because the alternative is unacceptable.

Charles Handy sums it up nicely, as one might expect him to do. “We need wake-up calls like this to shake us out of our comfortable assumption that we know how to run organisations and that all they need is occasional tweaking. Just possibly we are seeing the dawn of new era and it won’t be called management,” he wrote in recent issue of Britain’s Management Today magazine.

Orchestrating Your Project
By: Dr Jim Young
Publisher: NZ Institute of Management, Central Division
Price: $69.95 + gst

Dr Jim Young didn’t use the analogy in the title as extensively as he might in what could be described as very detailed orchestral score for project management.

Like any piece of music, project management is performance that has an identifiable beginning and end. That’s what distinguishes it from more day-to-day management – though Young does note blurring of this distinction both because of increased outsourcing and because more challenging business environment demands that even repetitive operations are regularly treated to fresh approach.

Project management (PM) is undergoing rapid growth, says Young, and PM specialists are effectively filling the role once taken by middle management. Hence greater demand for their particular skills.

These are not unlike the qualities conducters must display. sense of timing is pretty vital – as is the ability to know how each of the separate player parts fits into an harmonious whole.

Progress through the work piece is in four separate movements – conceive, develop, execute and finish. What Young provides is the methodological framework to keep the melody flowing from prelude to finale.

Drawing on his own experience as project manager, consultant and trainer, he aims to demystify the process by outlining simple, systematic path to follow through generic project life cycle. In his words:
“This methodology is broad enough to be flexible, detailed enough to provide clear dierction, yet simple enough to be readily understood and applied. [It] also includes guiding principles and variety of readily acceptable templates and checklists.”

Chapter topics include project conception and selection, managing risk, outsourcing project work, project leadership and teambuilding, and project manager’s personal skills.

The book also includes some useful appendices covering such areas as typical roles and responsibilities, plus typical templates for project proposals, plans and status reports, and list of useful websites.

While Dr Young notes that the discipline of project management seems to be “evolving faster than I can research, comprehend and report it”, this book provides very complete snapshot of the art of project management circa 2002.

Reg Birchfield is editor of Management magazine.
Email: [email protected]

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