Try fitness before the miracle cures

How many management theories do you need to run your organisation? The answer, judging by the output from academics, management gurus and business schools, is lots, and a continuous supply of new ones.

We appear to be in the grips of a management theory epidemic. I can safely predict that there will be more than 100 new theories on management before the year's end; probably more than 500 before the millennium.

As managers what should we make of this? Is the growth in theories occurring because the whole science (or art?) of management is becoming increasingly complex ?

Or is it that the complexity of management is increasingly recognised, such that we need more and more, better and better theories, in order to cope? Or is it because academic and management gurus need to keep inventing new solutions to fuel their own industry?

A medical analogy can help. Consider the organisation as the human body, with management theories as possible cures. Different illness need different cures. Yet organisations usually select the cure before diagnosing the illness.

Most management gurus have preferred medicines, indeed, perhaps only know how to use certain medicines, and tend to apply them to all problems. Consequently, we are seldom fully cured. But we become so hooked, or intrigued, that we go back again later to try the next cure.

What is the solution? Fewer cures? I do not believe so.

Having a large number of management cures is not a problem in itself. But the cure will only work when applied to the right ailment. The wrong medicine can be dangerous.

The problems are threefold:

There are too few good "organisational" GPs around; too many specialists are applying their chosen cures to the wrong problems; and we, as patients, behave badly; too many of us choose to operate directly with specialists, trying numerous new cures before finding out the cause of our sickness.

One last thought. Medicines and cures are very useful. However, they often treat the symptoms as much as the causes. If you ask doctors about the underlying causes of human illness they go back to the basics - nutrition, exercise, weight, stress.

The same may be true of our organisations. Perhaps we should consider addressing the underlying drivers of good health in our own organisations before we next reach for the keys to the medicine chestn

Paul Hills

Paul Hills is director of the Buckinghamshire-based Crane Davies Management Consultants, 01753 784000.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

NQT for KS2 Teacher role Sept-Dec

£110 - £120 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: NQ...

Intervention Teacher- Key Stage 1

Negotiable: AER Teachers: A Primary School in North London; Camden is looking...

Year 5 Teacher -NQT's Welcome

Negotiable: AER Teachers: A Primary school in Camden - North London, is lookin...

Early Years Teacher

Negotiable: AER Teachers: We are currently recruiting on behalf of a school in...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice