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Can management gurus manage, but do they need to ?
Human Resources » Employee Relations

Chrm Message From: dadouch Total Posts: 32 Join Date: 04/12/2008
Rank: Executive Post Date: 30/03/2009 11:07:10 Points: 160 Location: India


Peter Drucker, the greatest of management gurus, once confessed that he would make a poor executive — he simply could not delegate although preaching delegation came easily to him.

Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach

Before mails of indignation, criticism and what have you start raining on me for the above statement, let me state at the outset that firstly this is not a statement I created and secondly as a trainer myself, I am also really somewhat foolishly chiding the mirror for showing a dirty face.

Be that as it may, the topic is extremely interesting especially the above purported statement of Mr. Drucker.

But isn't it true that to solve problems, you cannot be a part of the problem? That means a manager invariably cannot look at a problem dispassionately since he himself is responsible (in a major or minor way) for the creation of the problem itself. Thus his problem solving and decision making skills will be severely hampered due to a vested interest and less than neutral approach to everything in the realm of management. Isn't this precisely where a management guru with his part cerebral, part theoretical and part experience based skills come up with possible solutions or approaches? After all, isn't management supposed to be the `art of the doable'?

For consultants and management gurus to be effective, it is essential that they be unfettered by daily reporting, structured form filling, being too process driven to the extent of becoming bureaucratic or attending (mostly less-than-useful and also very time consuming) meetings. To build a business you need to spend quality as well as quantity time on the business - as a consultant who is the `walk the talk' type rather than `talk and walk(off)' type, my personal experience tells me that when you are so preoccupied with a hands on approach to solving the problems of a client, you are spending more and more time away from your `own business building' and thus obviously there would be a major challenge in growing your business (quantitatively).

Leading management gurus have very small core teams (Mr. Ram Charan has two support staff members only), so I presume does Mr. C.K. Prahalad and I don't see any guru coming out with an IPO in the near future. So is that necessarily a bad thing? After all whoever said a preacher or coach should be better than the `shaagird?' Chanakya never claimed he could himself run the empire of Magadh any better than Chandragupt just as Mr. Ramakant Achrekar surely never laid claim to being a better batsman than Sachin Tendulkar.

Yet, Mr. Ram Charan has had an unbroken close to three decade relationship with GE and the number of CEOs and senior managers he has seen come and go is surely more than the number of complete solar eclipses a man would see in a lifetime. Yet they all swear by him though apart from Mr. Charan, there may be no one in his team who can possibly engage any CEO in a meaningful strategy or business discussion for too long.

So the question really is not whether management gurus can manage or not - instead it might be useful to ask `do they really need to?'

The other topic about the disconnect between the B school curriculum and the teaching staff quality is simply a function of the market realities - the best are just not taking to teaching in a big way due to the pay differential between corporate jobs and teaching jobs. In the technical space also with another 6 IITs coming up next year it is going to be a nightmare and only some innovative solutions in the form of video-conferencing lectures, using the webinar mode etc. only will do the trick of spreading quality education across the corners of this vast country where the demand supply mismatch between those who need good education and those who can offer it is going to stay skewed for a very very long time to come.

Thanks and regards,


Chrm Message From: affluenthr Total Posts: 23 Join Date: 04/12/2008  
Rank: Executive Post Date: 30/03/2009 11:09:25 Points: 115 Location: India

I agree with the facts in the enclosed mail but I do not connect with the explanation given for instance 'the gurus do not need to manage etc...'

I think, ability to learn, teach, conceptualize, consult is a specialization, a skill, a passion a competency a strength..

Similarly, ability to manage complex operations, synthesize information from different sources to take tough decisions, managing business, people requires different sets of competencies which skilled managers, CEOs seem to have.

These are just two different sets of competencies and the same person may or may not have them both. (most likely not)