This essay critically explores the fact that management gurus and the fashions they have created and promoted have gained such popularity. And the source derives from the several ways in which they appeal to their followers. It begins by explaining what management gurus are and outlines several ones who have revolutionized individuals and organisations. It then reviews the strong character themes and creations that these management gurus have fostered to implement to their followers.
This includes religious imagery and social creations. The essay endorses such techniques used to attract and maintain followers as well as seeking to stress a number of potential limitations with them. However, the overall success of the management gurus can highlight that to some extent, that their techniques can be valid. Management gurus are portrayed as prominent speakers in society. They play the role of consultants to managers in organisations.
For instance, Huzynski suggests that management gurus and consultants ensure that management ideas are constantly upgraded or preplaced through what describes as a process of ‘planned obsolescence’ (Huczynski, 1993). This is known as ‘Reengineering’. Managers always turn to management gurus when they need innovative ideas to enhance their management strategies leading to maximum profits. Huzynski (1993) states that reengineering is: “the fundamental rethinking and radical design of business processes to achieve ‘dramatic’ improvements in critical measures of performance, such as cost, quality, service and speed”.
The management gurus’ perspective of reengineering is repackaging the same management strategies previously given and then sells it to these managers like their brand new. Drawing in particular on the work of Hammer (1999), he points out that he has created another form of reengineering after the new popularity of the internet. He argues that, by linking companies together, internet technologies can create saving and improve productivity by coordinating efforts across corporate boundaries in a process which he dubs “intercorporate engineering”.
Reengineering has “done the world good” because it has enabled executives to see through the surface structure of their organisations and to home in on their fundamental purpose; delivering value to customers in a way that creates profits for shareholders (Hammer and Stanton, 1999). It can be argued that these management gurus are ‘actors’. Thus they claim they have created brand new ideas but behind the scenes these are only ‘repackaged’, having only regurgitated the past successful management strategies.
This critique suggests hidden agendas in the services the management gurus’ give to managers as customers. In contrast, this clashes with Hammer and Champy (1993) who have found that: “BPR is about beginning again with a clean sheet of paper. It is about rejecting the conventional wisdom and received assumptions of the past”. Paradoxically, the management gurus are not ‘BPR’ (Business Process Reengineering) correctly as it refers to completely starting afresh with a brand new idea and going back to the drawing board.
Moreover, perhaps by repacking these ideas on instead of giving radically different ones will keep the management gurus in business since these ideas start to become somewhat of a clichi??. As a result, these ideas depreciate and eventually lose their value. This is as revealed by Hammer and Stanton (1996, p. 32) who state: ‘ A lot of people embark on reengineering but don’t go anywhere because of a failures of intellect or courage’. While this may also suggest management gurus’ fear to experiment with new management strategies, repackaging these successful past ideas do spawn them visits from the managers creating more profits.
For instance, Business Process Reengineering and Total Quality Management is the most widely recognized, if not practiced, organizational improvement initiative (Burdett, 1994). Furthermore, this explains why gurus are reluctant to using any alternative method that devises management strategies apart from business process reengineering, as there is a risk of creating an unsuccessful one. This would ruin their reputation as experts and thus jeopardise their popularity. Thus, reengineering can be a last resort for management gurus as they can be assured a successful idea to sell on to their customers.