Gurus and the art of gibberish
Sunday 29 June 1997
Accordingly, his new book - Great Myths of Business (just published by Kogan Page at pounds 18.99) - is likely to prove a welcome antidote to all those worthy but exceedingly dull tomes that float across the Atlantic with the aim of stirring executives into radical change programmes once they return from their summer breaks. Chances are they will chuckle into their suntan lotion or fall off their beach chairs as they read Mr Davis's attack on such ideas as "banks know best" or that "numbers don't lie". But what they are likely to enjoy is the sustained assault on management gurus and the consultants who in effect act as bag carriers.
Gurus, he says, "have a passion for convoluted theories and fancy jargon accompanied by incomprehensible diagrams. It often turns out to be pretentious waffle, but it impresses the people who pay the bills." Consultants, meanwhile, have become almost as essential to many business people as "a psychiatrist to a Hollywood star".
This is not to say that he views the two groups as completely worthless. He has a lot of time for Peter Drucker, who sees his contribution to clients as "basically to be very stupid and very dense" in contrast with most experts who delight in clever-clever bamboozling.
But it is clear that a lot of what he calls "the consultancy game" fails to impress him. Acknowledging that it is unfair to blame gurus or consultants for the fact that nothing is certain in the world, he nevertheless argues that the coming in and out of fashion of such ideas as downsizing and re-engineering only points up the fact that "one should not take everything the gurus say at face value".
And then there are the "expert MBAs" of whom he warns business to beware. In pointing out that "consultancies feel that MBAs help to convey an aura of professionalism and many corporations like them", Mr Davis, to say the least, his doubts.
As such, he has more than a little sympathy with the business people who argue that students should be taught "practical skills that employers want" rather than have their heads crammed with "interesting but unusable facts".
But then he also accepts that business executives also have a lot to answer for. Gurus and consultants can attack complacency and the established order, but "the ultimate responsibility for improvement lies squarely on the shoulders of the audience".
A simple truth, but one which - unlike a few myths - merits close examination.
- 1 BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
- 2 Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
- 3 The map showing the most dangerous tourist destinations in Europe, according to the Foreign Office
- 4 The biggest first date turnoff has been revealed
- 5 German man found living with 300 rats in tiny apartment
BBC told new political editor must be 'impartial' with Nick Robinson reportedly stepping down
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response yet from Ellen DeGeneres
Isis propaganda video shows 25 Syrian soldiers executed by teenage militants in Palmyra
Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Budget 2015: George Osborne to axe subsidies for higher income earners in social housing
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
iJobs Money & Business
£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...