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Category Archives: General

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The Engineer and The Gardener: the Central Tension in 21st Century Management


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“Warm hearts allied with cool heads seek a middle way between the extremes of abstract theory and personal impulse”                                         Stephen Toulmin, … Continue reading


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The Ecology of a Social Movement: The Quakers and Social Reform – Public Talk RSA London December 7 2018


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On Friday December 7 2018 I will be at the RSA’s Rawthmell’s Café 8 John Adam Street, London, speaking on the Ecology of a Social Movement, using the Quakers of the First Industrial Revolution as my example. They were an astonishing … Continue reading


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Lead Like a Gardener! – Agile and Design Thinking Will Become Management Fads Unless We Expand Our Concept of Management


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This blog is a shortened version of a full-length article Lead Like a Gardener that appeared in Medium earlier this week. Management is notoriously faddish. Managers can reflect on a long line of management innovations that attracted huge attention, were widely … Continue reading


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Management Needs to Return to Reason


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‘The arts of life…turn out to possess their own special methods and techniques…Bad judgement here consists not in failing to apply the methods of natural science, but, on the contrary, in over-applying them’. Isaiah Berlin, Political Judgement Ever since the … Continue reading


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Cattle, Slaves and Automobiles: Driving Dangerously With Management Clichés


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Language is rooted in metaphor. In their popular book, Metaphors We Live By (1982) George Lakoff and Mark Johnson showed the pervasive role that our embodied experience plays in our understanding of how the world works, or might work. We … Continue reading


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Management: a Noble Practice


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The theme of the 2017 Global Drucker Forum to be held in Vienna later this year is “Growth & Inclusive Prosperity – The Secular Management Challenge”. Dictionary definitions of prosperity mention a condition of being successful or thriving, especially economic … Continue reading


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Wells Fargo: Culture Eats Strategy (again) and (this time) the CEO


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Over the decades organizational culture has devoured hundreds, if not thousands of strategies. One of the most recent examples is the case of Wells Fargo, where culture not only ate a long-standing, apparently successful strategy but last week also consumed … Continue reading


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Brexit: Crisis and Opportunity for Britain and the EU – a Systems Perspective


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“In a multi-layered complex system stability is achieved by having the big and/or slow processes govern through constraint the smaller, faster processes. Sudden change can take place in a complex system when agents at one level escape the constraints usually … Continue reading


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Why Business Books Still Speak Volumes


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It’s easy to be critical of business books. What had been a dull cottage industry until the publication of Tom Peters; and Bob Waterman’s In Search of Excellence (1982) became an exuberant enterprise that churns out a vast number of … Continue reading


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Bloody Ships – Bloody Systems: A Managerial Reflection on the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland


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“There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today…” remarked Vice Admiral David Beatty to his Flag Captain. Beatty was commander of the Battle Cruiser Fleet at Jutland, and his cool comment belied the scale of the catastrophe. … Continue reading


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