Business, the Universe and Everything

International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management

ISSN: 1741-0401

Article publication date: 1 September 2004



(2004), "Business, the Universe and Everything", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 53 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Business, the Universe and Everything

Business, the Universe and Everything

Stuart Crainer and Des DearloveCapstoneISBN: 1841125628£14.99

Crainer and Dearlove’s latest offering is a collection of interviews with 23 of the world’s leading management thinkers, offering summaries of the thoughts of each, according to what they want to offer about themselves. For example, Charles Handy provides an overview of his major books, while Sumantra Ghoshal offers an essay on corporate philosophy, the nature of capitalism, human capital, and the relationship between business and society – all in six pages.

Many of the names will be familiar to most readers. Philip Kotler contributes on marketing in the digital age; Warren Bennis on leaders; Gary Hamel on strategy. There are some newer names, too: Kjell Nordstrom and Jonas Ridderstråle, the black leather clad Swedish authors of “funky business”, and John Patrick, IBM’s Internet guru.

Crainer and Dearlove describe the book as a “smorgasbord of business ideas”, and you can see what they mean. It allows the reader to have a little taste of a lot of items before deciding what they really like and want more of. Of course, like smorgasbord, there may be too many items and too little of each – leaving one felling under-nourished but not wanting more! Similarly, many of the offerings are remarkably similar – just presented differently.

Thankfully, Crainer and Dearlove retain a sceptical lens through which to view the contributions. They have been around the management scene for long enough that they know that “a pinch of salt” is essential. So they do push their interviewees hard at times asking James Champy, for example, where re-engineering went wrong.

Management gurus deliberately express their ideas in generic terms to ensure they resonate with the widest possible audiences. This also means that they are readily translatable by others such as management consultants. Too often, however, key elements get lost in that translation process and good concepts suffer from misuse and abuse. If you want the ideas of a particular guru to work in your organisation, it may be necessary to partner with the guru him/herself, or at least a trusted acolyte. The application of ideas such as those in this book is what brings results. What this book does is introduce a variety of those ideas in an interesting and engaging way. Perhaps we should be content with that!

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