This is the not-so-serious result of my non-comprehensive readings in management and strategy literature. Over the years I have read several books, papers, articles, studies etc in this wide field. It is my perception that there are three major groups of writers:
1 The Recyclers
These are the authors and researchers that have already been in business for a longer time. They are well-known and enjoy a high popularity. For them it is easy to come up with a new book. All they have to do is to take their earlier writings, update them, rearrange them and repackage them. If they are talented enough, this strategy can result in some really interesting new books.
My favourite example for this type of writer is Henry Mintzberg. Take his books Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, Strategy Safari, and Strategy Bites Back and you will see that they have many thoughts, stories and examples in common. In Mintzbergs case, I don’t mind this. I enjoyed reading all of these books and his ideas are really good in the end of the day.
2 The Searchers for the Holy Grail
Much has been written in management science during the last decades. For new authors, it becomes more and more difficult to stand out from the crowd. The solution is to come up with something that is of interest for virtually every manager in every business. Hence, many authors try to find the Holy Grail of management science – the ultimate formula of corporate success.
The approaches are manifold: The easiest way is to study previous research on this topic. You can take the rich body of knowledge already existing and summarise it, compare it, categorise it, identify similarities and contradictions and so on. The more advanced approach is to do some field research – questionnaire surveys, in-depth-interviews with successful top-managers (beware: Today’s success can be gone tomorrow) and more.
Since there are ever new writings on this topic, I assume that nobody has found this ultimate and undisputed formula of success so far.
3 The Model Builders
This group needs to invest much more creativity in every book or paper. These are the authors that are deeply impressed by the lasting popularity of some management models and tools that are for ever linked to the names of their creators. Well known examples are Ansoff’s Matrix, Porters Five Forces or the 7S-Model, for which Tom Peters is known.
To come up with a model of this reputation could surely boost the value of an authors name on the book market. Hence, many authors are desperately trying to develop all sorts of boxes, matrixes, circles, triangles, clocks and so on.