“An estimated 10,000 business books have been published worldwide over the past three years,” reported The Wall Street Journal May 21, 2001, “many touting management tools promising to make their users incredibly successful by showing them new ways of doing business.”
That is an astounding number of books. I read a book a week, but at this rate I’ll never catch up. Why are there so many new business books? Here are my thoughts…
Top 10 Reasons for 10,000 Business Books
Consumer Reports for consultants Until recently, there’s been no Consumer Reports for the tools and techniques recommended by business books, workshop facilitators and consultants. To address this need, Bain & Company, a global consulting firm, surveyed 5,600 senior executives asking their usage and satisfaction with 25 tools. While the average company used 10 of the 25 in 2000, 81% felt that most management tools promised more than they could deliver. The Wall Street Journal reported greatest dissatisfaction with Corporate Venturing, e.g. growing a mature company by funding new, autonomous businesses and technologies. On the other end of the scale, executives rated Strategic Planning as the most valuable tool.
The rest of the story… Not reported in the paper, but found on Bain & Company’s web site, is the high acceptance and rating of Activity Based Management (ABM). Of the 5,600 executives surveyed, most reported using ABM during the past eight years. And more importantly, the executive’s satisfaction ranking of ABM was a mere 10% lower than the highest rated of all tools, Strategic Planning. The primary uses of ABM were reported to be re-pricing products, optimizing new product designs, reducing costs, operational planning and strategic planning.
According to survey respondents, the success of any tool is determined by its repeatability. Was ABM/ABC a one-time pilot project in your organization or is it an ongoing process that continues to contribute to your improvement? To transition from a project to a process of improvement, the surveyed executives offered three recommendations:
“Ideas, not gold, govern the world. Machines do much of the world’s work, but machines are born of ideas. A human worker without ideas is only a machine.” These words of wisdom are from “Onward to Fame and Fortune” by William Thayer, a best seller in 1897! Both old and new books can be resources for good ideas. Bain & Company’s survey is a new reminder of an old method to sort through those 10,000 books… the right tool applied in the right way to the right problem will consistently produce the right results.
Send your comments to Tom Pryor via e-mail: TomPryor@icms.net.
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