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When Fad Things Happen To Good Concepts

by David Brock on August 15th, 2008
You already know I am a fan of Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership blog. Today, he had an interesting post entitled “When Fad Things Happen To Good Concepts.” It’s a good post and worth reading.

However, I’d like to get on my soapbox on management fads. Everyday, it seems there is a new management fad or trend. These fads will certainly save anyone’s business, giving them the silver bullets to outstanding performance. As P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Unfortunately, in trying to find out where the fault lies for management by fad, I have to point the finger to my own profession. Too many consultants publish a book, offering new insights, but are mostly recycled and updated ideas that come from solid, well established management research or writing from years ago. Usually, the greatest contribution these “new management” approaches have is boosting the consultant’s speaking and services fees. They often burden people adopting the ideas with a new jargon, but little new or innovative.

Don’t get me wrong, often there is value in reading these books. An old idea, presented in a slightly different light can stimulate us to think. At the same time, let’s not throw out the sound principles from years ago, looking for the new magic elixir.

Most effective business leaders I know focus on basics. As Wally mentions in his post, these basics don’t change much from year to year or decade to decade.
  1. Dave, very well stated. I’m on that same soap box, particularly when it comes to sales methodology and process. Couldn’t agree more that it can be helpful to read the “new” things that are published, but in the context that the principles and approaches espoused are not really new. I get particularly annoyed when some of these folks disparage the “old” way by inaccurately and narrowly defining it…and most of them never experienced the “old” way or really understand it. Long live fundamentally solid “consultative” selling, as well as leadership and management approaches!

    • Thanks for the comment Don, it’s always great to have your point of view. There’s something in the human psyche that tends to drive people for looking for silver bullets, magic solutions, wishful thinking. But none of it replace disciplined execution of the fundamentals—and lots of hard work.

      I’m a huge fan/advocate of many of the new technologies, new principles and approaches–most of the people behind them recognize the fundamentals on which they are based. Most, also, recognize if a person isn’t rock solid on the fundamentals, they will never get the most out of the new tools, approaches, etc.

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