Daily Archives: September 26, 2008

Adam Jones

Picking up on the Management Blog’s scoopette about McKinsey advising Wall Street investment banks to spend less on consultants, the Economist today looks at how the broader, $309bn-a-year management consulting industry will be affected by the carnage in the markets.

While noting that revenues seemed to hold up well in the first half of the year, it said the industry faces the prospect of cancelled contracts and possible consolidation. Moreover, consultants need a new product to sell, it reckoned:

All consultants agree that emerging markets such as China, India and the Middle East offer the best opportunities for the future. But they accept that most of their business will come from the developed world for a while yet. So the industry badly needs a “Big New Idea” that it can sell to clients there. Previous consulting booms were built on ideas such as “total quality management” and re-engineering. But at the moment consultants have no successor to such money-spinners.

Does anyone know any management consultants specialising in advice to the management consulting industry? There could be an opportunity there.

Stefan Stern

A fascinating chat with Canadian web guru Don Tapscott – author of Wikinomics – who was passing through London last week. His new book, Grown Up Digital – how the net generation is changing your world, is out later this year.

Mr Tapscott prefers the term “net generation” to “generation y”, as for him it helps signal that the under 30s are truly different, and not just the next cohort to come along.

“These kids have different brains,” he told me. “They have bathed in [computer] bits.”

I look forward to reading the new book, which promises to offer useful insights into these young multi-media heroes.

But the remark that really stayed with me was Mr Tapscott’s confident – very confident – assertion that “Obama will win”. “He has 13.4 million under 30s, all talking to each other on Facebook, and they are going to vote. This is unprecedented,” he told me.

“Obama will win.”

I merely report these words without further comment.

Adam Jones

It might not seem like it at the moment but Robert Peston is not the only business journalist at the BBC. Peter Day is still offering excellent insights into management fundamentals on BBC radio.

The latest edition of his ‘In Business’ show – which can be heard online or via podcast download – covers branding and new product development. Learn why prosaic lower-sodium soups were a hit for Campbell’s, and why eggs shouldn’t go in the toaster.

I was delighted to hear him chat to John Murphy, a branding expert I once interviewed for an article on brand euthanasia. Mr Murphy founded one of my favourite brewers, St Peter’s. If you are in London and need a calming pint after another week of grim uncertainty, head for its Jerusalem Tavern.

Elsewhere:

Stefan Stern

Review of A Sense of Urgency
John Kotter
Harvard Business Press
$22/£11.99

Back-to-back meetings, an exploding e-mail inbox, an ever-longer working day and almost permanent jet lag – this is the familiar world of today’s frenetically busy executive.But now a distinguished author says that what so many of us really lack is a sense of urgency. Is this guy for real?

He is. John Kotter, emeritus professor at Harvard Business School, has a clear and simple message.

What most of us think of as urgency, as busy-ness, is not actually making things any better. This false urgency is stressful, exhausting and unproductive.

True urgency may sometimes involve moving fast. But the most important aspects of true urgency are relentlessness, steadiness and the purposeful pursuit of a goal while “continuously purging irrelevant activities to provide time for the important and to prevent burn-out,” says Kotter.

The author is perhaps the business world’s favourite guru on the subject of change.

His book Leading Change (1996) has become a classic, with its eight-step programme for managing change effectively.

Step one in Kotter’s approach was to create a sense of urgency. Now, a decade after publishing his best-seller, he returns to consider this first step at greater length.

He has done so because he has become convinced that this sense of urgency is overwhelmingly the most important factor if change is going to be handled successfully.



About the authors

Stefan Stern writes a column on Tuesdays on management. He is winner of the 2010 Towers Watson award for excellence in HR journalism, and has previously won awards from the Work Foundation and the Management Consultancies Association.

Ravi Mattu is the editor of Business Life, the FT's management features section, and a former editor of the Mastering Management series. He joined the FT in 2000 from Prospect magazine

This blog is no longer active but it remains open as an archive.

Twitter feed

RSS feed

The FT’s management blog: a guide

Commenting: We welcome your comments. You need to be registered with FT.com to comment; you can register for free here. Please also see our comments policy here.
Contacting us: You can reach us using this email format: first.surname@ft.com
Timing: UK time is shown on our posts.
Follow us: Links to our Twitter and RSS feeds are at the top of the blog. You can also read us on your mobile device, by going to www.ft.com/managementblog
FT blogs: See the full range of the FT's blogs here.