My response to an article in BS

The rise of insta management


Kanika Datta BS March 26, 2016


Management literature is desperately searching for excellence again. It enjoyed a long run of success from the thoughtful genius of Peter Drucker to the philosophies of C K Prahalad, Jim Collins, Gary Hamel, Ram Charan and others, who intelligently studied global corporations. Memoirs from Lee Iaccoca, Jack Welch, Sam Walton, Lou Gerstner and other icons added heft to these efforts.


These books have the additional advantage of imparting appropriate gravitas to the office book shelf. But reading them demands some application of mind – even though most gurus are decent writers and the ex-honchos often hire competent ghosts. But what of those zillions of executives who neither read as a habit nor care to apply their minds too much when they do?


This opened up the market opportunity for the parallel trend of self-help book masquerading as management book. Ken Blanchard (The One Minute Manager) and Stephen Covey (The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People) were the early masters of this popular genre, but it was Spencer Johnson (Who Moved My Cheese?) who hit the ball out of the park. Their down-home style presented in short sentences and bullet points made them best-sellers.


Today, their successors are legion – each month brings to my desk earnest advice on time management, man management, maximising sales, leadership, and variations thereof. The savvier writers of these insta-management books ride a trend. Thus, since Steve Jobs never cared to explain his management philosophy (if he had one) to anyone, his death produced a mini-industry in Jobs- and/or Apple-mania. If Walter Isaacson’s authorised door-stopper was too much to absorb, why there was Inside Apple: The Secrets Behind the Past and Future Success of Steve Jobs’ Iconic Brand, a neat 240-page primer, Finding the Next Steve Jobs and many more.


One lucrative offshoot is the “lessons” category. Legendary football manager Alex Fergusson, for instance, came out with Leading, basically the third variation of his autobiography couched in vaguely didactic terms. India after economic liberalisation saw an avalanche of books offering management lessons from Hinduism; the Mahabharata and Ramayana, its principal characters and the Gita in particular. The latest to mine a new lucrative seam is a book offering management lessons from Bollywood hits – from Lagaan, Lakshya, Om Shanti Om and so on.


All of which reminds me of the British TV star John Cleese, who is also a management trainer. Come to think of it, he’s probably missed an opportunity. There must be management lessons in Monty Python or Fawlty Towers, surely?


MY RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE ARTICLE 


Dear Sir,


This refers to the interesting article “The rise of insta-management” by Kanika Datta in Business Standard dated March 26, 2016. YES indeed, there have been many takers for such quick “best-sellers” propounding various new management theories and half-truths and lessons for the vast majority of the new generation of students who somehow do not like “serious sermons” from the old Management Gurus, but lap up the tasty “Gyaan” from Bollywood movies and interesting Management parallels from religious epics for a change. Being a Visting Faculty myself in several colleges I too have been guilty of often using amusing homilies from these familiar pot-boilers and hot-sellers to make my students smile and feel interested in my lectures. Boring lectures based on references from serious authors of yester-years make students ‘drowsy’ but such anecdotal material based on familiar movies and plots keeps them ‘alive’ in class room sessions. Besides, movies like Lagaan, Lakshya and Om Shanti Om mentioned by Kanika Dutta, situations from movies like Sholay, Rocket Singh, 3 Idiots, Chakk De India etc have been used as learning material for the B School students. Such is the popularity of these sources that if you Google say “MANAGEMENT LESSONS FROM BOLLYWOOD MOVIES”, you will get about 2,18,000 results in just 0.38 seconds! Like instant-coffee and instant-oups, likes of such instant-management teaching aids will continue to grow, since the reason is fairly simple: demand will outstrip supply! Economics my dears!


J S BROCANew Delhi   , 26th March 2016


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One Response
  1. Jatinder Pal Singh Broca says:

    My letter on Management books in BUSINESS TODAY of 28th March 2016
    Letters: Management flicks
    Business Standard New Delhi March 28, 2016
    With reference to “The rise of insta-management” (March 26), indeed, there have been many quick “bestsellers” propounding various new management theories, half-truths and lessons for the vast majority of the new generation of students who do not like “serious sermons” from the old management gurus, but lap up tasty “gyaan” from Bollywood movies and management parallels drawn from religious epics. As a visiting faculty in colleges, I too have been guilty of often using amusing homilies from familiar pot-boilers and bestsellers to attract my students’ attention in the classroom.
    Boring lectures based on references from serious yesteryear authors make them drowsy, but anecdotal material based on movies keep them alive. Movies like Lagaan, Lakshya and Om Shanti Om, as mentioned in the article, as well as situations from Sholay, Rocket Singh, 3 Idiots, Chak De! India etc. have been used as learning material for B-school students. Just like instant coffee, such instant management teaching aids will continue to grow, since the reason is simple: demand will outstrip supply.
    J S Broca, New Delhi
    29TH MARCH 2016

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