Read The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong by Matthew Stewart Online


Don’t go to business school. Study philosophy.Fresh from Oxford with a degree in philosophy & no particular interest in business, Matthew Stewart might not have seemed a likely candidate to become a consultant. But soon he was telling veteran managers how to run their companies. Striking fear into the hearts of clients with his sharp analytical tools, Stewart lived in Don’t go to business school. Study philosophy.Fresh from Oxford with a degree in philosophy & no particular interest in business, Matthew Stewart might not have seemed a likely candidate to become a consultant. But soon he was telling veteran managers how to run their companies. Striking fear into the hearts of clients with his sharp analytical tools, Stewart lived in hotel rooms & got fat on expense account cuisine—until, finally, he decided to turn the consultant’s merciless, penetrating eye on the management industry itself. Alongside his devastating critique of management “philosophy” from Frederick Taylor to Tom Peters, Stewart provides a bitingly funny account of his own days in a management consulting firm. Combining hands-on experience with the theoretical underpinnings of contemporary fads in efficiency improvement, empowerment & strategy, Stewart knows his stuff, & thus he lays bare how little consultants have really done for the business of others—while making a killing for themselves....

Title : The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong
Author :
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ISBN : 9780393065534
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 343 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Management Myth: Why the Experts Keep Getting it Wrong Reviews

  • Jonathan
    2019-04-20 18:12

    A highly entertaining read where Matthew Stewart dismantles the Management Consulting industry. For you with experience in consulting, parts of this are hilarious as Stewart chronicles both the imploding of the consultancy he helped create, and the overall history of the industry. One by one, he tears apart Fredrick Taylor (the father of "scientific management"), Elton Mayo (of the "famous" Hawthorn Effect), Management Consultants, Strategy (as a science), popular Management Gurus, and offers a harsh critique of MBA's in general. His main premises is that "Management" is not a profession on the level with Medicine or Law, however management education through business schools have attempted to professionalize it. And to that end, they have manufactured "science" (in a very non-rigorous and untestable sense), truisms, frameworks, and case studies. Here are a few highlights. I didn't agree with all that he had to say, but I did enjoy reading it. I was laughing out loud towards the end as he details how his fellow partners are embroiled in litigation with him as he tries to sever all ties. Stewart is genuinely funny, giving characters nicknames such as "The Prince of Darkness", "The Troll," "Dr. Bob" the corporate shrink, and others.As for management consultants, he had less-than-flattering quotes:"[C]onsultants often serve not to provide new knowledge to their clients but merely to communicate ideas already formed. In many instances, our work amounted to harnessing work performed in one part of an organization and then packaging it all as our own work for the benefit of another part of the same organization."I can't speak for all organizations, but I am extraordinarily fortunate to say at ThoughtWorks (my employer) this has never been my case. We are not a traditional management consulting McKinsey style strategy consulting firm, true. However, we do have consulting projects, some the strategic management consulting types. I've seen us bring our outside expertise and influence and avoid acting solely as grease in the wheels. Becoming grease may let others bill lots of money, but isn't very intellectually fulfilling.Even better, if you have worked in a traditional pyramid style company, (of which ThoughtWorks is very, very, very, very much not) he has this gem to explain it:"It's like being stuck in a dungeon with a bunch of rats and a giant block of cheese. All the rats keep climbing the cheese, two years at level one, two years at level two. The threes shit on the twos and the twos shit on the ones, and everyone shits all the time on the rats at the bottom. All they care about is rat-face-time. As in, please-sir-would-you-stick-your-rodent-butt-closer-to-my-face time. You keep going up until one of the other rats bites your ass off." Up or out. Several friends of mine elsewhere have shared this is a fairly accurate description. Strategy. He also tears apart Porter and his Five Forces [3]. Stewart claims all business strategists describe strategy in hindsight (not so useful if you want to implement "strategy" for, you know… the future). I have a little bit of a hard time accepting that all of modern strategy is hogwash, as instead I think while bounded in utility, different frameworks help one to position a problem and look for solutions in diverse ways.Due to business schools' roots in Taylor, Mayo and others that he sequentially defuses of all credibility, the author also suggests that the fundamental underpinning of MBA's are shaky. The academic and scientific rigor is weak, and the content is easily grasped by otherwise intelligent people."After 100 years of fruitless attempts to produce such a discipline, it should be clear that [Business Management] does not exist. preparing managers to manage, in fact, is not different from preparing people to live in a civilized world. Managers to not need to be trained; they need to be educated. And for that purpose, although a certain amount of study of business-related subjects may prove useful, the business schools as they are presently constituted are at best superfluous."A jaded view? Yes. But also very fun. The best parts is the parallel narrative that progresses through the book about his firm. I didn't talk about that much, because I don't want to spoil anything, but it is very fun. Especially, when their acquiring company's CEO steps down because he wishes to promote full time his beliefs in UFO's and alien-human technology transfer. Serious. [4] This guy had a crazy consulting journey, and has a great style of writing about it.If you are interested in this book, first read his article on The Atlantic [1], which gives you a taste of the content here. Second, check out the WSJ book review [2], by Philip Broughton, author of a similar book that I recently read.[1][2][3] Michael Porter, of Harvard. Father of the 5 Forces, which are: (1) the bargaining power of suppliers, (2) the bargaining power of buyers, (3) the rivalry among existing firms, (4) the threat of new entrants, and (5) the threat of substitute products. Extremely influential, he also advocated all strategy aims for a single, measurable goal: excess profits. (Unsurprisingly, Stewart takes criticism of this).[4], please share with me your comments.

  • Jeroen
    2019-04-20 20:32

    Dit boek is eigenlijk een lange aanklacht tegen de illusie die wordt gecreëerd dat er zoiets bestaat als een "Management"-wetenschap waarop consultancy-bedrijven & bepaalde universiteiten zich maar al te graag op beroepen.Alle managementmodellen en -adviezen ontbreken wetenschappelijk bewijs (en dus voorspellende waarde) en zijn ofwel een veralgemening van ervaringen in het verleden ofwel gewoon gezond boerenverstand.Het boek leest vlot door zijn interessante afwisseling van een historisch overzicht van de consultancy-wereld met de eigen ervaringen van de auteur in de consultancy wereld. Doordat veel elementen/voorbeelden bekend voorkomen, lees je dit boek met een bevestigende glimlach! Enkel het middenstuk was soms te langdradig.Vooral zijn analyse van Tom Peters & Co is treffend en confronterend. Want de sloganeske schrifsels van Tom Peters spraken me vroeger ook wel aan.Aanrader voor iedereen die ondertussen ook beseft dat management vooral gezond verstand is en maangement-consultancy tot zijn ware proporties kan herleiden. En voor wie het nog niet beseft: een eye-opener.Afsluitend, een van de vele leuke quotes in dit boek, over startende consultants: " Hoe kunnen zo velen die zo weinig weten zo veel verdienen door andere mensen, die er nota bene voor worden betaald het te weten, te vertellen hoe zij hun werk moeten doen?"

  • Chris Shemes
    2019-03-25 23:38

    A good but not a great book that is mildly entertaining because of Stewart's personal experiences in the consulting industry. This book hopefully will persuade some managers and C levels to think twice about paying for consulting "experts" when they could employ their own experts - if they don't already. It was educational and a good review of the theory of management. I do agree that any well educated person has the potential to be a good manager but his assessment of smashing MBAs and their education is not entirely on target in my opinion. It's obvious that he thinks MBAs should have gone back to school for PhDs in finance, economics, or any other field to gain expertise. It seems that he's brushing aside the MBA degree based on a distaste of them acquired while working as a consultant.

  • Mikal
    2019-04-07 20:12

    It's fascinating the disconnect in ratings between the book and audiobook versions. I listened to the audiobook, and unless the book itself was written differently or had a better editor, I don't understand the chasm.I don't believe I have ever rated a book so low. But the reality is this book is an exercise in self-aggrandizement.The author explores the idea of a "management myth" through his own N of 1 experience as a management consultant. Doing so he manages to come across as both pompous and disconnected of his own role in perpetuating the flaws of the current business philosophy. For example when he talks about the money he made in management consulting it is articulated as money he "earned" while the companies he worked for are described as a combination of swindling their clients and providing little value for the rewards they reap.By placing his own experience as parallel to the history of management and management philosophy he inadvertently (or intentionally) places himself on par with the giants of the field. For example while Porter gets about a chapter- his experience with a consultant firm that is long ago defunct comprises about half the book. Not exactly what I had in mind for a book on "Management Myth" especially one with a bias towards philosophy.The author also takes advantage of a straw man in Tom Peters. Tom Peters who is at least a decade past the point of relevance in the business workplace accounts for a large portion of the final third of this book, but the question is why? I've deduced that its because Tom Peters is an easy straw man, he has sold a lot of books and his methods were flawed, he serves as an easy example of what is wrong with "management" even if his impact is minimal.I'm highly disappointed that the two books I have come across to discuss the origins of modern business philosophy (this and Lords of Strategy) focus blindly on the contributions of management consultants. This overplays consultants value in the modern business workplace. Strategists impact only a fraction of the total business / management ecosystem. An exploration into the philosophy of business law is just as likely to yield wisdom about the flaws and conflicts of modern management as any exploration into the role of management consulting.Mr. Stewart does some great work with here his debunking of Taylors and Hawthorne's research experiments are noteworthy. However these only serve as footnotes and digression in a too long tome of his personal experience. Ultimately the authors decision to explore management from his own lowly vantage point was an original sin from which this book found no redemption.

  • Ramón Nogueras Pérez
    2019-04-14 01:22

    Yo siempre saco un placer especial leyendo libros donde se desvelan charadas , supersticiones y chorradas. Cuando se trata del mundo de los negocios, que es de los entornos más supersticiosos que hay, doble plus. El autor hace una crítica argumentada y devastadora de la teoría de gestión de empresas, revelando que es una simple pseudociencia, con la implicación de que las escuelas de negocios enseñan poca cosa útil. Por otro lado, el autor demuestra que las consultoras que venden estrategia no venden más que humo, aderezado con los diez años de experiencia del autor como consultor. Es divertido, es demoledor, impecablemente argumentado. Magnífico.

  • Greg Linster
    2019-03-25 21:28

    Is there anything more absurd than trying to measure something that can’t be measured? In my opinion, most performance reviews are an utter waste of time because they try to measure things that can’t or shouldn’t be measured. The most important aspects of many jobs can’t be measured, but managers (usually armed with an M.B.A.) delude themselves into thinking that scientific performance reviews measure an employee’s worth. How dare a manager acknowledge that someone is doing a good job without any data to support such a claim.Read the rest of my review of The Management Myth here.

  • Leif Denti
    2019-03-23 18:19

    As a management scholar who teaches this stuff I find this book to be highly refreshing. A harsh take on the management consulting industry, the philospher and ex-consultant Matthew Stewart guides us through the many myths that keep the industry going. Stewart deconstructs the modern day gurus like Michael Porter, Tom Peters and Jim Collins showing that in principle their advice is banal at best (e.g., "Gather the best team" - Jim Collins in Good To Great), nonsensical at worst (e.g., "Be a 'Level 5' leader" - Jim Collins in Good To Great) and ultimately cannot be proven either true or false (e.g., Porters ideas about strategy). An interesting read, perhaps a bit one-sided in its criticism.

  • Laura
    2019-03-25 22:26

    This book felt disjointed and confusing. I think Mr. Stewart was trying to write two separate books (one on his own consulting experience and one on the history of management theory) and combined them into one lackluster volume. I doubt I would have finished it except that I was listening to the audio version on a long road trip. I think he had some good points that were lost in the chaos.

  • Nick Short
    2019-03-26 21:19

    A central theme in this book stems from the poignant observation that it's easiest to claim false expertise-or simply to get by without expertise-in subjects where it is difficult to define exactly what comprises expertise.Author Matthew Stewart earned a doctorate at Oxford in philosophy and then began work as a management consultant at Mckinsey-eventually quitting to work part-time and write 'irrevant' philosophical works but then reentered his consulting world fulltime as a partner at a competing firm. Here, Stewart combines these two worlds by alternating chapters between an amusing (and not entirely self-righteous or flattering) reflection on his real world consulting experience and a criticism of management as taught in business schools. The observations he details in his book are described as 'slightly shocking'. In my opinion this is not because they are merely views outside of the traditional management discourse, but because they probably are also true.The criticism of management science a la university begins with the argument that management does not generalize and thus isn't a science. One manufacture's operations or retailer's marketing scheme can be as proprietary as the product itself. Stewart compares this with developing a field of technology studies in order to find underlying principles between technologies as disparate as LCD screens, telephones, airplanes etc. Management science is a 'nonfalsifiable tautology' argues Stewart.The author then looks to the history and founding of the field. Bullet points on wikipedia and on powerpoints in classrooms across the world show that Frederick Taylor is the founder of management science. Despite a brief credibility loss in Harvard circles in the '50s the word Taylorism to this day still connotes rigorous statistical measurement of working operations.But Taylor was only responsible for pushing the idea of management as a science. The author analyzes Taylor's most famous breakthrough experiment and determines it a fraud. The alleged motivation for the experiment was the need to save costs at a steel company after a dramatic rise in the price of iron, but historical records show the dramatic price change never happened. The amount of workers at the plant was 12 multi purpose hands and not the 75 specialized pig-iron handlers noted in the study. The company had 10,000 tons of product and not 80,000. (Amounts that justify adding consulting fees when writing about the success of the experiment for the company.) If one looks deeper, says Stewart, several metrics in the study were arbitrarily decided and most weren't even included, and thus this not the verifiability that comes standard in most science. The author does credit Taylor with the invention of a high speed cutting device and some verifiable results using primitive machinery, but every study involving humans lacked verifiable data and reproducible methodology. "He provided only anecdotes, embellished with speciously priced numbers and arcane formulas of indeterminate provenance."The author boils down management theories as nonfalsifiable propositions-maxims such as 'work smarter, not harder' or 'a stopwatch a day keeps the banker away!'. He argues that:Such 'principles' are unscientific not because they are false, but because they are too true. As Karl Popper points out, scientific theories are interesting because they could be wrong. They are falsifiable; and this is why science as a whole is corrigible and progresses. By always insisting that he was incontestably right, Taylor inadvertently acknowledged that his science isn't a science.At this point the author credits later management theorists such as Mary Parker Follet for their work, but dismisses Taylor's generalizing claims as metonymy-a 'category mistake' as his philosophical colleagues may say.Another 'huxster' Stewart attacks is Elton Mayo, who is known for the idea of Hawthorne Effects after consulting for Western Electric. Where Taylor saw a division between thinkers and laborers, Mayo saw a division between thinkers and feelers. The Hawthorne Effect is what has come to be known as any unintended effect (such as productivity boosts) on test subjects when they know they're being experimented upon. This effect in Mayo's experiment was interpreted by Mayo as a great example of another management theorist's "Theory Y" in action. (That a happy worker free to pursue their own bliss is a productive worker). Phrases originating from Mayo include "empowerment", "responsible freedom", "the wisdom of teams" and "the new organization". Now, attending to employee needs and encouraging teamwork are all good things and part of an effective manager's duty, but this is hardly a 'scientific finding' or 20th century discovery asserts Stewart. And even if one ignores centuries of philosophical, religous and fictional writings and stays within the the historical management catologue, one can find similar ideas from others lecturing on the topic major universities in the 1920s and even a century earlier with British industrialist Robert Owen's utopian experiment in founding the 1000+ person privatized city of New Harmony, Indiana. (Stewart inaccurately states this was in Illinois.)And Theory Y then is what paradoxically informs Theory X--which is that increased productivity results from applying pressure on works, since workers are irrational and cannot pursue their own self interest without external force. Stewarts argues that excluded from these theories is that a worker's reasonable pursuit for their self-interest could conflict with the interests of the organization. He furthers that both theory X and Y are based on a Theory U (utopian) foundation, which is that inherent in all conflicts are misunderstandings and that through reason all can sort itself out. But according to Stewart the problem with Theory U is that it leaves an unchecked power in the workplace (or society) and thus usually involves a use of tyranny. "For the workers of the world, management humanism always sounds pleasant on first hearing; but insofar as it is a way of substituting beautiful words for substantive negotiation, it is a swindle."In subsequent decades and to this day many organizations attempt to institute this 'new technique of management' where possible by pacifying unions or replace wages and pension plans with a slew of 'Hawthorne Effects'. But the notion this is a 'new technique' is pure gloss and certainly not science, and moreover the idea may be largely not even be practical.Stewart's contrasting view aligns with Theory T (tragic) which states that some degree of conflict is inherent to all social organization. Stewart states the most successful real world managers are these T-Types and asserts authors of the best literature, framers of the US constitution and the ancient Greeks (sans Plato) also all view the world through a similar Theory T lense."Sometimes the self is at odds with the community, sometimes the community is at odds with itself, and sometimes, as Thomas Hobbes pointed out, it's a war of all against all. Individuals acting in good faith and with adequate knowledge may still have reason and desire to exploit their fellows, and they will do so unless constrained within a system wherein these tendencies are adequately checked and balanced"Also criticized is the Porter’s ideas of ‘strategy’. According to Stewart much of the strategizing literature resembles astrology. "The Five Forces" in particular, may be one way to explain what happened to a firm retroactively, gleans little information about the future.Stewart also dedicates a couple chapters to criticisms of the management guru industry (which he defines as authors of business/management books aimed at middle managers). The only interesting thing here is the point that criticizing the gurus is in effect an industry itself, and has existed as long as the gurus themselves.Latent within all the critiques is the idea that studying obtuse texts on organizational behavior or following the gurus is hardly a better substitute for understanding humans than say, the humanities. Management is getting things done through people. Something that requires checks on power and making sure all parties have something at stake (skin in the game). It's leaps and bounds of faith in other people. It's empathy (listening to someone say what they want, deducing what they actually want, and figuring out why they think they want it). It's humbling oneself when faced with the peculiarities of human behavior. It's cheerfulness and steadiness in conflict. The unsurprising conclusion is that what develops great manager is the cultivation of intellect and character that results from studying and experiencing plain old life itself.

  • Mario Sailer
    2019-04-04 19:17

    After having read the book, I ask myself which modern business philosophy has been debunked in the book. It is more or less an overall attack on (some) management theories and it is a very poor one. There is a lot of smattering, half knowledge and one-sided presentation about the facts. The book has a storyline that is Matthew Stewards personal experience as an management/strategy consultant. This part of the book is quite interesting, it gives some insights and it sheds some light on at least a part the management/strategy consulting industry. But it has nothing to do with modern business philosophy, it has more to do with some psychopaths (about 15% of managers are psychopaths, whereas it is only 1% of the population) trying to make as much money as possible at the expense of clients, partners and other victims. In between his own stroy he braids a story of Frederick Winslow Taylors iron pig experiment. Taylor becomes his preferred quarry later on. The next story is about Elton Mayo in conjunction with the Hawthron experiments. Then he drifts away to write about management strategy. Harry Igor Ansoff, George Steine and Michael Porter are the main actors. Inbetween there is ab bit about Peter Drucker the beginning of management schools, especially the Harvard Business School etc. It gets a bit blurred here. This is the part in which he may have tried to debunk business philosophy. And at the end I found this part very awkward to read. It is more a management bashing based on a few examples than a sound derivation of facts. Sure, there is a lot to criticize, which is very easy in retrospect. But there are also a lot of good thoughts that he neglects. And he never has the full picture in mind, he concentrates only on part of the stroy like you would say water is bad to extinguish a fire because trying to do this when oil burns makes it even worse.For me there was nothing to learn, only so things I got reminded.

  • Dumky De wilde
    2019-03-28 18:16

    Though Stewart's story is quite interesting —how a philosophy student with no experience can become a management consultant, and what that says about the consultancy 'industry'— in the end his book would have been better of cut in half. Alternating chapters of management history with his personal story seems a bit trite and becomes a bore in the latter half of the book (I skipped over quite a few parts there). It's a shame because there's definitely more potential in the book.

  • ybk
    2019-04-04 20:25

    Both having a PhD in Philosophy and working at the top consulting firm can make him write this book, so "Management" here really means consulting, or all types of management theories. If you are actually managing people now (but don't take my words as it is. I don't) or have read any of Taleb's books you don't need this book. Unless you're interested in extensive criticism of theorizing in management.

  • Miikka
    2019-04-13 20:39

    A look at the modern history of management and management consulting, intermixed with a memoir of the author’s consulting career. Pretty funny book that takes a deservedly harsh look at the topic. Recommended for anyone who reads management literature.

  • Benji Visser
    2019-04-16 02:20

    It’s more entertaining to watch House Of Lies :)A nice rundown on the history of scientific management, but I found the novel-type chapters boring/irrelevant. This could have been boiled down to perhaps 100 pages.

  • Matthew
    2019-04-06 01:12

    I laughed out loud at least three times as Stewart alternated between an account of his consulting experience and lambasting the embarrassing history of management from its scientific management roots.Among other major takeaways - Strategic planning doesn't work... except to enrich consultants and CEOs at the expense of shareholders and employees. Having an MBA isn't merely useless, it's a detriment.

  • John Norman
    2019-03-28 01:36

    I don't know who you are, but if you live in the business world, you should read this book.I have worked with many MBAs and people who read books like In Search of Excellence, From Good to Great, Competitive Strategy . . . and take all that stuff uncritically.And I've worked with other business people who are effective because they are, at bottom, intelligent analyzers and synthesizers of what they read and learn from others. Must of these folks are simply good people who have been well-educated or have educated themselves.Both groups are going to learn a lot from this book. The first group, I hope, will see that the foundations of what they've been reading are weak indeed; and I think the second group will find confirmations of suspicions they've had about the ideology of business management that surrounds so much of what happens nowadays in corporations, small and large.So this book by Matthew Stewart blows all that "management theory" stuff up. It is a sustained critique of the ideas of the business management work. Stewart starts with Taylor ("taylorization") and works his way through the likes of Mayo, Ansoff, and on to Drucker, Porter, Peters, and Collins.Watch out when someone with training in philosophy analyzes your arguments! The critique here boils down to the observation that these guys are great at predicting the past. What it comes down to is that very few of the claims made by the managerial tradition are true hypotheses, and the gurus don't present any real evidence or control groups.The key chapter is the one on Michael Porter and "strategy." Porter's claim about strategy is that a business can exploit various market inefficiencies. But Stewart shows quite clearly that there is simply no predictive basis offered for the claim.Elsewhere in the book, there are gems, such as the proximity of Drucker's theory of management to socialism (181-182), the conflict between managers and owners (196, 217), business theory and the anti-intellectual tradition in American life (267) . In the long run, Stewart shows how businesses love the rhetoric of the free market but do whatever they can to create oligarchies and monopolies.If you read this book, you will see that Romney's claims that his BCG / Bain experience is somehow predictive of his ability to get anything done with the US federal government is probably a crock.The book ends with an elegant dismissal of the MBA curriculum, and a defense of the liberal arts and the cultivation of "ethos."Laced through the book are brief chapters outlining Stewart's own experience at a McKinsey spinoff. It is not happy reading. Basically it illustrates an argument sounded many times throughout the book that the management consulting business is about pleasing the customer -- i.e., making CEOs and managers feel good about themselves.

  • Harald
    2019-04-15 21:36

    This book also comes with the subtitle, "Why the Experts Keep Getting It Wrong." The author, Matthew Stewart, claims a philosophical background and uses it effectively to destroy the scientific pretensions of management gurus from Frederick W. Taylor to Tom Peters. He shows the reader the lack of any solid research behind the pronouncements of the early management experts of the twentieth century, such as Taylor and Mayo, who respectively stands for scientific management and human relations. This debunkment is not really new, but he shows that these ideas seem to have survived remarkably well among management consultants of the present.His main argument against Taylorism targets its attempt to find pseudotechnical solutions to moral and political problems. Elton Mayo is attacked for having drawn his conclusions without actual reference to the facts to be found at the Hawthorne Works. Stewart is also critical of the management education that Mayo helped to found.Stewart goes on to unravel the foundations of the strategic managment litterature and in particular tear at the presumptious excellence of the theories expounded by Tom Peters. At times Stewart appears at least sympathetic to the apparent good will of the management gurus, but the more recent ones cannot show any, but rudimentary scientific evidende and serves mostly as the foundation of the flourshing field of consulting. Stewarts enlivens his screed with his tale of hilarious experiences as a managment consultant himself. This story frames the book, and makes it more personal and enjoyable.He ends his book with a call for political awareness in business management and the reform of the MBA degree at American universities.

  • David
    2019-03-27 22:17

    The Management Myth has been on my list since I read the rave WSJ and New Yorker reviews this past fall. It’s a brilliant history of management thought dating back to Taylor and scientific management. It is also a highly critical take-down of the management consulting industry that relies on hilarious anecdotes from the author’s career in management consulting. favorite quote: “What makes for a good manager? If we put all of their heads together, the great management thinkers at the end of the day give us the same, simple, and true answer. A good manager is someone with a facility for analysis and an even greater talent for synthesis; someone who has an eye both for the details and for the one big thing that really matters; someone who is able to reflect on the facts in a disinterested way, who is always dissatisfied with pat answers and the conventional wisdom, and who therefore takes a certain pleasure in knowledge itself; someone with a wide knowledge of the world and an even better knowledge of the way people work; someone who knows how to treat people with respect; someone with honest, integrity, trustworthiness, and the other things that make up character; someone in short, who understands oneself and the world around us well enough to know how to make it better. By this definition of course, a good manager is nothing more or less than a good and well-educated person.”

  • Martijn Euyen
    2019-04-15 00:15

    "De Managementmythe" geeft een sterk relativerende visie op management, consultancy, strategie en planning. Stewart hekelt de grote denkers en goeroes (Taylor, Mayo, Drucker, Peters, etc.) die aan het ontstaan en de ontwikkeling van het vakgebied bijdroegen. Daarbij put hij uit de literatuur die de groten op dit gebied hebben voortgebracht en de ervaring die hij opdeed in de management consultancy branche (McKinsey, Boston Consultancy Group). De belangrijkste bezwaren tegen de meeste axioma's en modellen die gaan over management komen neer op: generalisatie, ongefundeerde en vaak niet verifieerbare uitgangspunten, onvoldoende (zelf)reflectie en een gewillige doelgroep die graag bereid is om veel te geloven, maar weinig te toetsen.Dit boek bevestigt me in een gevoel dat ik al een tijdje heb, maar nog niet voldoende onder woorden kon brengen. Met het afbrokkelen van de grote geloofssystemen in de Westerse wereld is een nieuwe vorm van religie ontstaan. Deze religie heeft vele vormen en wordt ontwikkeld en gevoed door slimme managers en consultants. Samen met een grote doelgroep van vooral middenkader managers en consultants bouwen zij aan verhalen die vooral bedoeld zijn als een middel voor zingeving. Het uiteindelijke doel is telkens weer: snel veel geld verdienen. Natuurlijk zijn er uitzonderingen op de regel, maar daarmee wordt de regel nog niet ontkracht. Uiteindelijk lijkt het bij management en consultancy vooral te draaien om een goed karakter en een deugdzaam mens te zijn. Laat het vakinhoudelijke werk vooral aan de specialisten over.

  • Alessandro Veneri
    2019-04-19 20:22

    The book is, in my modest opinion, a good map of the status of management.The chief author's aim is to repeatedly demonstrate, how management can't be attached with the "scientific" label, rather to be considered a modern branch of the philosophical thought."Scientific" is a tag that management couldn't earn, due to the impracticality of its "theories" - a word that is explicitly deserved by thought systems which prove themselves to be predictive, rather than descriptive. Management literature usually gravitates around anecdotes - and that would be perfectly fine, if the general claim wouldn't be that of a "scientific, systematic approach" to improving corporates' cash-flow.I found the book entertaining, the author makes some good humor while deconstructing the OS of management. It is lightened by author's personal voyage through the perils of consultancy. I found of notable interest the last chapter of the book, which doesn't reject management altogether, rather frames it as one of the many, possible ways of becoming a better person; as Stewart puts it "a good manager is nothing more or less than a good and well-educated person."And if "it is interesting to note that in their in-house, mini-MBA programs, consulting firms assume that the intellectual content of an MBA can be communicated in about three weeks", a general, liberal-arts-style education might be much more appealing that it now is.

  • Joel Ungar
    2019-04-15 01:22

    Stewart skewers management thought and consulting, intermixing his own career as a consultant, in a very readable book (although I had to go use a few times for some of his adjectives).Who does he skewer - Taylor, famous for his stop watch, Elton Mayo, who I hadn't heard of before, Drucker (not that badly), Boston Consulting Group, Tom Peters and some others. He does a particularly good job taking apart the famous 4 square grid that gave us cash cows, dogs, stars, etc. as a mechanism for deciding where to invest resources.In interspersing his own career as a consultant (which interesting he does anonymously by not naming names) he tears apart the consulting industry. I think he is mostly correct in saying that a primary objective is to sell the engagement and then sell more engagements.This book reminded me of 1982 - 1984 when I was in the undergraduate business school at The University of Michigan. I knew where I was headed - the Big 8 and public accounting. A lot of people I knew wanted to consult. This struck me as ridiculous - what did a 22 year old know that would allow that to consult with big business? I had a difficult time of it when I was in my early 40s.One thing I know for sure - I'm done reading most of the management books that come out.Highly recommended.

  • Jeremy
    2019-03-28 00:29

    Everybody in the business world, finance, management, organizational leadership, etc., should read this book. It is a broad history of 'modern business philosophy' and a damning exposee of the consulting world as it (apparently still) operates today. The book helps situate theoretical approaches to business - whether economic, managerial or whatever - within the project of modernity, with its typical reductionisticunderstanding of human beings and the 'science' of their behavior. Many of the lessons Stewart learns through his own study and (at times, awful) experiences are common sense truisms that are shockingly obvious: people are neither animals nor robots, you can't control reality, know the future, nor determine outcomes. It's a testimony to the power of culture in general, and subcultures in particular, that such ordinary wisdom is so often obscured in the business world.There's a hilarious section on the leadership and success 'gurus' that's worth the price of the book.Steward provides more history and critique than constructive ways forward (though there are some good ideas here as mentioned above). I'd recommend Michael Metzger's 'Sequencing' as a good companion read that fleshes out where Stewart'sinsights should/could take business theorists and practitioners.

  • Frans Saxén
    2019-04-02 01:34

    Matthew Stewart's book provides a well written critique of strategy consulting, and the superstars of strategy, like Peter Drucker and others. The author, a PhD in philosophy, who all of a sudden finds himself a strategy consultant earning a high salary for telling business people with 30 years of experience how to run their businesses has plenty of insights to share with the reader. The book alternates between the recounting the author's own somewhat absurd experiences from consulting, and a general critique of "management" as an academic subject, as well as the popularized versions of it available at airport bookstores. Both of the trails work well independently, and they also support each other. The book points to weaknesses in popular management research, such as only looking at successful companies and trying to infer what causes their success, without having a control group. This book is very enlightening, and should be read by anybody who works with consultants, or read management literature. Personally I found "The Halo principle," by Phil Rosenzweig, which is similarly critical of many management books slightly more insightful on the theory part, but Stewart's personal story is a nice addition in this book.

  • Geoff
    2019-04-16 23:17

    Very interesting, and easy to read.The author's politics strike me as being conservative in a sense that we don't often hear these days. The book argues again and again that managers are rising as a "class" with power in our society, and the author seems to waver on whether this is a good or bad thing. What he is certain about, is that the MBA programs are broken. The conclusion seems to be that prospective managers should get arts degrees, and that universities should stop trying to become technical institutions and go back to being finishing schools for future social elites.The prose is good and many of the points are interesting. One of the strongest themes is the history of management, its theoretical framework and practice. By contextualizing the issues, he gives his analysis more kick and credibility. The personal anecdotes support other themes, and while I found them less interesting than the history, they're fun none the less.All in all a good read, but I wonder if he said anything that he hadn't already said better, and more concisely, here:

  • Pete
    2019-04-06 23:35

    The Management Myth (2009) by Matthew Stewart is an excellent piece of nonfiction that skewers much of management ‘science’ and also tells an entertaining inside story of working in high end management consulting. Stewart has a degree from Princeton that included Physics and a PhD from Oxford and with this he is able to understand science and logically work his way through thought very systematically. In addition he writes well. The book has a narrative like much of the best nonfiction and it also has an impressive array of interesting revelations on the subject of management science. Stewart goes through how Talor, Mayo, Drucker and others created a vast body of pseudo science that influenced Communist and Fascist societies and led to the creation of business schools that were more about business than school and led to companies wasting huge amounts of money. The book is very much worth reading for anyone who has ever seen management mayhem, it may not stop foolish powerful people from making mistakes but it may help the sense of absurdity when going through the next reorganisation.

  • Patrick
    2019-04-06 22:36

    Interleaving chapters about the history of business education and the "discipline" of business strategy with the author's own story of his time as a management consultant, this was an entertaining read that calls into question whole genres of popular business books. Built on the shaky foundations* of Frederick Taylor and expanded on by a series of professors and self-styled 'gurus' that are more interested in selectively choosing case studies that fit into their favorite frameworks than applying the scientific method, Stewart makes it clear that if you're expecting to strategize your way to business success, you might have better luck reading tea leaves. Having read a number of the books that Stewart skewers, I'm in thorough agreement with him about the efficacy of such theories.This book was informative and a bit eye-opening. And Stewart's personal story was worth reading as well.* No, I'm not saying this from a Software Development perspective--in which even if not false, Taylorism doesn't apply--but Taylorism really is built on fabricated results, rampant self-promotion, and poorly-designed experiments.

  • Frith
    2019-03-28 00:39

    Written as both a personal story in management consulting and a overview of the four major pillars of management theory, the Management myth succeeds in holding the attention of the reader and transferring the necessary knowledge of theories. Or perhaps more to the point: the lack of knowledge in these theories. After all, if everything worthwhile in an MBA can be transferred in three weeks or less, then what would MBA's have to teach actual business people about management? 'Next to nothing' (not his choice of words though) is what Matthew Stewart claims in this book.It is highly recommended for anyone who believes numbers are everything, or that's all about the people (the effect that Mayo has had on the social sciences for instance), 'strategy' or 'leadership' and other supposedly essential qualities that guru's claim one should have.Because when you got to the heart of it, none of these things is based in reality or science and it just leads to more bullshit.

  • Matej Kurian
    2019-03-29 00:17

    Interesting read that left me with important questions unanswered. The book is basically divided in two parts - 1) author's personal story in the consulting world (Mitchell Madison Group); 2) history of management & consulting as academic disciplines.The first theme is intriguing analysis of -- office intrigues and management that ran-away. Second, often at lengths discusses epistemic flaws of management as a scientific discipline, rather than a profession. This is "myth" Stewart sets to debunk. Interestingly, discussing some of the projects he worked on, author does see the value management consultants create. Unfortunately, the book only skims other interesting questions such as -- where and how consultants do create value -- even if it has nothing to do with specialist knowledge, and rather being able to pick and package already existing in-house knowledge or shout out loud what the management already knows.

  • Frits
    2019-03-24 20:36

    The author present a humorous, or rather sarcastic view, on the management / strategy theory and the consulting business he has been working in. In alternating chapters he gives an overview of the history of management theorie, and an account of his experiences in the consulting world.The chapters on management theory are ok. He gives an overview of the thinking in the field, starting with Taylor, over Mayo, Drucker, Porter to end with "excellent" Tom Peters, and explains why most of their work is nonsense. This part of the book is valuable. It shows that their is no scientific foundation for management theory and strategic thinking, and that it is mostly driven by fads.The chapters on his personal experience concentrate on the battle for power within a newly founded consulting firm. They are disappointing and boring.

  • Bglassman Glassman
    2019-04-14 02:35

    I'll be adding to this review over time, but I need to say this now: For years, both as an executive and as a consultant, I have had the feeling that much of what was being sold to us and to our clients was bogus. How one can buy something bogus is understandable. How one can sell something bogus and only occasionally suspect it--that's what this book is helping to elucidate. Management consulting need not be borrowing the clients' watch to tell them what time it is, but it requires a very different mind-set, and a willingness to tell the clients to keep their watches to themselves, at least for a while. Time will tell if Stewart has a good answer for that.One other note: I've read most of this as a Kindle book on the iPhone and it's just a great way to read the book.