Key Management Models
by Steven ten Have, Wouter ten Have and Frans Stevens
with Marcel van der Elst and Fiona Pol-Coyne
273 pages

Better Frameworks for Better Management

What exactly is "the fifth discipline?" What's the difference between activity-based costing and traditional cost accounting methods? Why is everyone talking about "chaos"? Why is Michael Porter important?

As any regular reader of business books will tell you, there are scores of management and strategic frameworks, models or concepts developed every year by consultants and academics. A few become widely known, accepted and even implemented; as a manager, you may want at least a passing knowledge of what the concepts mean and how they are applied. If so, Key Management Models, a well-organized reference book on 54 of the major management models, is for you. Compiled by a team of five Dutch management consultants, Key Management Models is the latest in a series from Financial Times Prentice Hall that also includes the books Key Management Ratios, Key Management Questions and Key Management Ideas.

When to Use Models

The models are listed in alphabetical order, with each two-to-four-page entry consisting of three sections: the big idea; when to use it; and the final analysis. It is the section on when to use these models, however, that provide the most direct benefit to readers. It is one thing to explain the concept of core competencies; where the authors excel, however is in explaining how core competencies allow managers to prepare for the future -- to develop what the originators of core competencies called "foresight." The authors explain the new mindset required to develop foresight, and offer specific tips on how to identify your company's core competencies.

A Sampling of Models

A symbol at the beginning of each entry indicates whether the model principally involves "strategy," "organization," "primary process," "functional processes" or "people and behavior." (Some models cover more than one category.)

A short sample of the models included in the book illustrates the breadth of the authors' entries. For example, strategy models include Ansoff's product/market grid, Porter's five forces; and scenario planning. The balanced scorecard, the Deming cycle and the EFQM (European Foundation for Quality Management) model are covered under the organization category. Reengineering and Kaizen fall under the primary process category, while functional processes models (models related to financial or commercial processes, for instance) include overhead value analysis and EVA (economic value added). Finally, models in the people and behavior category range from Steven Covey's seven habits of highly effective people to Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

While many of the models will be familiar (including classics such as Boston Consulting Group's matrix and McKinsey's 7-S framework), other models are less well-known -- such as John Kay's distinctive capabilities and an organizational concept called the "parenting advantage."

Knowledge and Perspective

The authors emphasize that Key Management Concepts is not necessarily intended as a "'top 60' of popular management models, nor as a prescription for 'good' management and organization. Rather, the number, the variety and the differences between the models included in the collection aim to place in perspective not only each individual model but management models in general." In other words, becoming familiar with the variety of models that have been presented over the years, the authors write, "reduces the danger that managers will be tempted to view the next popular model that happens to come along as a panacea for whatever ailments their organization happens to be suffering from at the time."

Why We Like This Book

As with any list, some readers may disagree with the choices of models included and excluded. For example, Charles Handy's "gods of management" concept is typically creative, but there are other more important models from Handy's work that should have been included first.

A more important drawback of the book is name dropping (usually just last names) without any explanation of who these people are. There is a bibliography at the end -- organized by model -- that helps, but a quick identification tag would have been appreciated.

These minor issues aside, the authors have succeeded in presenting a comprehensive overview of management models, and in clearly explaining the importance as well as the drawbacks of each model. This handy reference tool is highly recommended for both seasoned and new managers alike.

Copyright © 2003 Soundview Executive Book Summaries