I like Bain & Company, I had the chance to work with them as a client for several years in the 1980s. As one of the world’s leading business consulting firms they publish an annual review of top management tools. The latest report is out now.
Since launching the first survey of Management Tools & Trends in 1993, Bain and Company have tracked executive attitudes and behaviors through a wide range of economic cycles. In the current cycle, there is a profound fear the world has deteriorated forever. Executives are concerned the consumer spending levels won’t bounce back to pre recession levels anytime soon and revenue growth is the main challenge given the low growth economic environment.
The phase of cost containment, cost reduction, downsizing and outsourcing appears to be over with executives well prepared for the challenge of securing top line growth. For those who have survived the downturn, company positions have been strengthened and the future appears to be brighter.
Almost two thirds of executives believe they are emerging from the recession in a stronger competitive position with a greater emphasis on growth particularly overseas growth and international expansion.
Nearly all executives believe innovation is vital to their company’s success but few feel they have learned to harness its power effectively. Many executives have serious concerns about how their organizations gather customer insights and manage decision making. Many are beginning to experiment with social media.
Looking at the top ten chart, benchmarking remains in the top slot for 2008 and 2010. The guideline, find any metric and model it, whether balance sheet, profit and loss account, market share, segmentation, KSFs, key success factors, name that metric, manage and model it.
Strategic planning appears in second slot, having written up the Apple Case study from the iPod to the iPad as a classic example of strategic management, it is good to see the old favourites still in fashion. Most strat man is still locked in conventional 2D profile but borrowing techniques from the structural engineers, we have developed 5D models for strategic management which are very exciting.
Mission and value statements appear in the third slot. Some people are cynical about M and Vs but they are essential in committing any team or organisation to a common goal. Drafting is key. JFK’s call to action to “put a man on the moon”, was headlining but would have provided more comfort to families had it included something about “getting him back”.
CRM appears fourth in the list which is concerning when many executives struggle with how the process is managed. Outsourcing and supply syndication remain high on the list. The lessons from Apple so appropriate.
The balanced scorecard, from Kaplan and Norton, I never really understood to be other than an extension of benchmarking with a wider checklist. Segmentation appears at number ten. Far too low, it should be at the heard of any market profiling and strategic planning process.
Total quality management number three in the list in 1993 has slipped out of the top ten list altogether. So much for 6 sigma and the pioneering work of Deming and Juran. I well remember them all.
For those who want a quick collection of buzz words, the Bain Management Tools publication is a quick guide. For those who want to understand the key levers in strategic management it is an essential handbook. JKA
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The views expressed are my own and in no way reflect pro.manchester policy. In no way should the comments be considered as investment advice or guidelines or reflect political bias. UK Economics news and analysis : no politics, no dogma, no polemics, just facts. JKA is a visiting professor at MMU Business School, an economist and specialist in Corporate Strategy, educated at LSE, London Business School with a PhD from Manchester Metropolitan University.