The Fad Lifecycle (‘Agile’, ‘Lean’, ‘Lean-Startup’ and ‘Design Thinking’ are dead)

Over the course of time, various frameworks, methodologies, and approaches (I would call them tools with labels) have come and gone. Panaceas that promise much and purport to solve our problems, turn into fads and die, bowing out to the next wave of ‘new thinking’ and labels.

While in vogue, the people that promulgate them (usually consulting firms and ‘thought-leaders’) extoll their merits and attempt to convince the unwitting of the need to buy their tools, attend their training classes, obtain certification, and buy their books. To not do so, they warn, is to be left behind; the fear marketing hyperbole: that your competitors are already doing it – and if you don’t join them – you will be left behind, or worse, you could become the next Kodak or Nokia. Fear sells.

If you are involved in the creation of technology today, then you will no doubt be aware of tools such as ‘Agile’, ‘Lean’, ‘Lean Startup’ & ‘Design Thinking’. The various consulting firms have done an outstanding job at marketing each, with the message reaching right up to the boardroom.

Each of these tools started small, and have over the ensuing years grown into the technology creation and transformation consciousness.

The ‘Innovation adoption lifecycle’ is a sociological model created by researchers Beal and Bohlen in 1957. It describes the adoption or acceptance of an innovation. The model indicates that the first group of people to use something new are called ‘innovators’, who are then followed by ‘early adopters’. Next come the ‘early majority’ and ‘late majority’, with the last group to eventually adopt called ‘laggards’.

Diagram: Innovation adoption lifecycle. Source: CC BY 2.5

A panacea or fad can be characterised in the same way. A new tool is created, and the ‘innovators’ begin to use it. Next, the ‘early adopters’ jump in, promoting the promise that this tool is better than the last. Popularisation occurs in the ‘early majority’ through promulgation by ‘thought-leaders’ who write books, articles, blogs, tweets and give presentations at conferences. The big firms, who smell money, enter and begin marketing and selling ‘benefits’ to the ‘late majority’, and finally, the ‘laggards’ catch up through fear marketing.

When the purported benefits of the fad do not materialise, the fad begins to die, and typically, a war of words ensues between naysayers that have arisen (sometimes the originators themselves) vs hardcore followers and other originators of the fad. The cycle repeats itself when the next new tool – often the same thing just with a new label – comes along to take its predecessor’s place.

I call this the ‘Fad lifecycle’.

Diagram: The Fad Lifecycle. Source: David Joyce, CC BY 2.5 AU

Psychologists have learned that if a person is presented with attitudes or actions that are difficult for them to accept, then their defensive mechanisms kick in. It results in the person attempting to rationalise – they think of reasons to justify or explain, in a seemingly rational or logical manner, to avoid the true explanation.

Rationalisation happens in the last stage of the fad lifecycle. Fads seldom completely die out, its originators, and some of its hardcore followers who remain loyal, rationalise that ‘people didn’t do it properly’, or ‘snake oil sales people ruined it’, or in extremis ‘in time we will be proven right!’. The most common rationalisation is to point to what has ‘worked’ and ignore the rest.

What has this got to do with ‘Agile’, ‘Lean’, ‘Lean Startup’ and ‘Design Thinking’? Well, if we examine each, they are following a familiar pattern – they are all trudging through the fad lifecycle.

Agile is dead

From beginning small in the early 1990s under a variety of different guises, ‘Agile’ was born in 2001 following the creation of the Manifesto for Agile Software development. Since then it has gained in popularity, progressing through the stages of the fad lifecycle.

Today, ‘Agile’ is in no doubt mainstream, with both the late majority and laggards embarking on ‘Agile’ transformations. Some of these endeavours are happening beyond the confines of its roots in technology development. Fuelled by ‘thought-leaders’ (sales people) who promise that ‘Agile’ is the antidote to outdated command-and-control hierarchies and bureaucracies, they recommend that it should be implemented across the entire organisation, thus going way beyond the original intention of a set of values that were created for Agile Software Development.

Unfortunately, popularity doesn’t necessarily translate to results. ‘Agile’ is now teetering on the edge of the ‘Fad begins to die & rationalisation begins’ stage of the fad lifecycle.

‘Agile’ was born from frustration. The blame for the large-scale failure of technology projects had been pinned on the ‘Waterfall’ methodology, while ‘Agile’ proponents promised these issues would be alleviated. Sixteen years on since the creation of the Agile Manifesto, there are just as many technology failures as there were in the days of ‘Waterfall’. The promised panacea hasn’t become a reality.

In evidence of ‘Agile’ being in the final stage of the fad lifecycle, there is a growing number of people today who claim that ‘Agile’ hasn’t worked, has become bastardised, and that ‘Agile is dead’ – some of whom were its founders.

6point6 commissioned a survey of 300 CIOs in the UK and the US to examine their experiences of Agile and measure how successfully the principles of Agile are being applied and executed.

The research … uncovered that over half of CIOs regard agile development as “discredited” (53%) while three-quarters (75%) are no longer prepared to defend it.  Almost three quarters (73%) of CIOs think Agile IT has now become an industry in its own right while half (50%) say they now think of Agile as “an IT fad”.

Others acknowledge there are issues but are equally as quick to rationalise by pointing out the advantages that have been gained. As Jim Highsmith, one of the 17 original signatories of the Agile Manifesto, wrote:

“I’d prefer to focus on the positive – virtually no one is “starting” a waterfall implementation these days, how we’ve learned to deliver value to customers faster, how we’ve brought quality to the forefront in ways that haven’t happened before, and how we’ve improved the quality of workplaces around the globe.”

Other people claim that newer kids on the block that followed ‘Agile’ – labels such as ‘DevOps’, ‘Modern Agile’, and ‘Strategic Agility’ – will ‘do it this time’. Here we see the first stage of the fad lifecycle beginning again.

Lean is dead

The term ‘Lean’ first gained widespread popularity after the success of the book ‘The Machine that Changed the World’ (Womack, Jones and Roos, 2007, first published 1990).

The book became a bestseller, the term ‘Lean’ became widely known and a movement duly spawned. It moved through the fad lifecycle, spreading not only in manufacturing but also into service organisations and technology creation.

In the West, ‘Lean’ has often been promoted as the Toyota System in a box. Taiichi Ohno, the man who developed the Toyota System, insisted it shouldn’t have a name at all lest managers expect it to literally come in a box. Ohno was quite prescient, as this was the very marketing opportunity many early and recent Western ‘Lean’ promulgators tapped into, and they did so successfully, moving ‘Lean’ through the fad lifecycle.

In recent years there has been growing criticism of ‘Lean’, the Western attempt to reproduce the innovations in manufacturing practice first developed at Toyota in the 1950s.

Two of the authors of influential books on ‘Lean’, Mike Rother and Jeffrey Liker, highlighted the lack of sustainable results in an Industry Week survey which found that:

“only 2 percent of companies that have a lean program achieved their anticipated results” 

Rother kick started the fad lifecycle again by proclaiming that what was needed was a new label called ‘Kata’, duly publishing a ‘Toyota Kata’ book along with ‘Improvement Kata’ and ‘Coaching Kata’ practice guides.

More recently Jim Womack, one of the authors of the book ‘The Machine that Changed the World’ and founder of the Lean Enterprise Institute stated:

“… we need to acknowledge that our efforts to dramatically transform large, mature organizations haven’t worked and aren’t going to work, even when these organizations encounter crises.

Similarly, we need to acknowledge that our traditional ways of teaching lean methods through workshops and explaining our ideas through workbooks are at a point of diminishing returns.”

Just as Highsmith did, Womack then rationalised the failure:

“Yes, after so many years, I’m disappointed in how far we have gotten in spreading lean thinking … as a community, we will need to rethink our tactics, stick to our purpose, and better understand the challenges preventing us from staying on course.”

‘Lean Startup’, started, stalled and died

In addition to ‘Agile’ and ‘Lean’ and there are two other tools that have gained notoriety; ‘Lean Startup’ and ‘Design Thinking’.

‘Lean Startup’ is a methodology for developing businesses and products, which aims to shorten product development cycles by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning.

It is described as an intersection of customer development – which offers a way to find, test and grow customers – and ‘Agile’.

In 2008, Eric Ries started the fad lifecycle with ‘Lean Startup’, duly publishing a book called ‘The Lean Startup’ in 2011. It sold like hot cakes becoming a bestseller. Ries quickly became in demand on the conference circuit.

‘Lean Startup’ advised to use a new concept called a ‘Minimum Viable Product (MVP)’, then, based on user feedback loops, make small, fast incremental changes, evolving the design into something that customers can’t live without. As Eric Ries describedThe minimum viable product is that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.’

Diagram: Process for Lean Startup. Source: The Lean Startup, Eric Ries, 2011

Terms such as ‘MVP’, ‘Build-Measure-Learn’, ‘Validated learning’, and ‘Pivoting’ entered the technology production and transformation lexicon. ‘Pivot’ became so overused that it made its way into a cartoon in the New Yorker where a couple, sat at a table outside a café, had the caption underneath “I’m not a leaving you. I’m pivoting to another man.”

Just as Ohno was prescient about ‘Lean in a box’, so was Ries: “Throughout our celebration of success of the Lean Startup movement, a note of caution is essential. We cannot afford to have our success breed a new pseudoscience around pivots, MVPs, and the like.”

However, this is what happened. Coupled with fear marketing around ‘being disrupted’, consulting firms latched onto concepts like MVPs with feverish activity. Other labels such as ‘Enterprise Lean’ arose, piggybacking concepts started in ‘Agile’, ‘Lean’ and ‘Lean Startup’, but this time applied to enterprise organisations. Another example of selling ‘Lean in a box’. A new role called the ‘intrapreneur’ became fashionable – quasi Richard Branson’s – except they were suggested to be managers within an enterprise organisation with attributes of entrepreneurs and startup founders.

A movement had been born that quickly made its way into the ‘Mainstream marketing and selling’ stage of the fad lifecycle.

Did it deliver on its promise? Do less startups fail? Are enterprise organisations full of intrapreneurs? Or is it entering the latter stages of the fad lifecycle?

Predictably, articles appeared claiming ‘Lean Startup is dead’, ‘Lean Startup, and how it almost killed our company’ and ‘What’s wrong with the lean startup methodology?’.

Other labels began to kick start the first stage of the fad lifecycle, for example, ‘Minimum Loveable Product (MLP)’, ‘Minimum Desirable Product (MDP)’, ‘Minimum Valuable Product’, and ‘Riskiest Assumption and Test (RAT)’.

In his article for ‘startup daily.’ titled ‘Is the lean startup dead?’ Luke Fitzpatrick, who teaches startup entrepreneurship at Sydney University stated:

“Eric Ries, admitted that his theory was developed for startups particularly in San Francisco, and may not work for places outside of the United States. Ries has also said that the lean methodology probably wouldn’t work for startups like Facebook or Uber.”

Ben Silbermann co-founder and CEO of Pinterest, now worth USD 1.57 billion, said he was grateful he didn’t read Lean Startup in the early days of Pinterest because it might have convinced him to give up at that point.

‘Design Thinking’ out-thought

Lastly, we come to ‘Design Thinking’.

If we were to give an award for the best-marketed tool at the executive level, it would go to ‘Design Thinking’. In testament to this, the large consulting firms and corporations have been snapping up design agencies.

Even though ‘Design Thinking’ has been evolving since the 1960’s, it is only more recently as an umbrella term that it has achieved fame and continued to gain popularity.

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, and Roger Martin, author of books such as ‘The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage’ helped popularise ‘Design Thinking’ moving it through the fad cycle.

‘Design Thinking’ has become so well marketed, that it is now taught at Stanford University, and you can obtain a Master of Design/MBA at the IIT Institute of Design.

Richard Perez, a Director at Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking at the University of Cape Town, extols the benefits of ‘Design Thinking’: “Design thinking helps to break down silos across corporate departments. With multiple disciplines around a table, it’s possible to bring new perspectives to a problem within a structured framework for working together.”

David Campey, co-founder of Afrolabs and Lean Iterator agrees: “The hidden gem of design thinking is the multidisciplinary team,”

In addition, its proponents argue that ‘Design Thinking’ is the missing component from ‘Agile’, ‘Lean’ and ‘Lean Startup’, where ‘Design Thinking’ is the starting point before development occurs, used to identify the problems to solve – sometimes problems people don’t realise they even have.

Perez continues: “The discovery phase is critical in design thinking. Most of the work is focused on developing a human-centred understanding of the problem before going into solution mode.”

Diagram: Process for Design Thinking. Source:

Donald Norman, author of The Design of Everyday Things explains: “Designers don’t search for a solution until they have determined the real problem, and even then, instead of solving that problem, they stop to consider a wide range of potential solutions. Only then will they converge upon their proposal. This process is called Design Thinking.”

There is no doubt ‘Design Thinking’ has caught on in both the private and public sectors. In evidence of this, the stated aim of the ‘Explore Design 2017’ conference in Canberra, Australia was billed as a ‘whole of government initiative, responding to a growing need across the public sector to use design thinking to collaboratively develop more impactful policies and services.’

It goes on to state ‘… the event focuses on how we can use design thinking for developing and improving policy development and service design.’

These examples show that ‘Design Thinking’ has well and truly passed through the ‘Mainstream Marketing and Selling’ stage of the fad lifecycle.

Now widely in use, has ‘Design Thinking’ delivered on its promise of breaking down silos across corporate departments? Are results matching intent, or are previous proponents now dreaming up new labels because ‘Design Thinking’ has entered into the ‘Fad begins to die and rationalisation begins’ stage?

Bruce Nussbaum, Professor of Innovation and Design at Parsons School of Design, and an award-winning writer who describes himself as one of design thinking’s biggest supporters called ‘Design Thinking’ a ‘failed experiment’.

Nussbaum recommends that we should move onto a new label (kick start the fad lifecycle) called ‘Creative Intelligence’.

In addition to Nussbaum, other ‘thought-leaders’ have come up with new labels to replace ‘Design Thinking’ such as ‘Design Doing’, ‘Design Driven’ and ‘Product Thinking’.

Commenting on Nussbaum’s ‘failed experiment’ proclamation, in his article ‘Is Design Thinking a “Failed Experiment?”’, John K. Coyle, Design Thinking & Innovation Expert, Author and Professor of Innovation, rationalises the failure and lays the blame on the culture and mindsets in organisations:

“[I] strongly agree with Bruce that many many design thinking efforts, particularly at large organizations, failed. I worked for years trying to bring the mindset and process of design thinking to large organizations and by far the mindset element was often the missing ingredient.”

Once again, we are into the rationalisation stage.

A way out

When we teach students on Masters courses, we impress upon them the need to ask every lecturer who teaches them tools two questions:

  1. Who invented this tool?
  2. What problem was he or she trying to solve?

Students are then encouraged to ask themselves: does my organisation have this problem?

It never ceases to amaze us how few lecturers can answer the two questions. They, like the commercially-motivated toolkit sales people, usually react defensively when unable to answer the questions and assume tools have universal application. These actors have produced an army of fools with tools.

These two questions offer a way out of the fad lifecycle – it helps us recognise wrong-headed thinking that churns out fads, and enables us to avoid the trap of buying into tools that are just more of the same – tools and labels that apply the same logic that created the problem in the first place.


If you would prefer not to wait for answers, senior leaders who have crossed a Rubicon, completely re-thinking their ideas about management, who have liberated technology, and built a generative service organisation that produces extraordinary results will each be talking at our upcoming Progressive Leaders Summit at the Melbourne Arts Centre on the 2nd November.

Further articles in this series:


The greatest challenge is management resistance (Déjà vu)

Déjà vu is the phenomenon of having the feeling that the situation currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past.

I have this happen to me regularly. Let me give you an example. I recently read a report titled ‘Insights into how to keep up with today’s changing world‘ written by the Australian Transformation and Turnaround Association. I recommend reading it.

The report was written after surveying transformation and change leaders, in over 900 businesses, covering industries from banking and finance, manufacturing, technology, consulting, government, academia, and health.

When the question was asked ‘What is the greatest challenge facing your organisation this year and next?’ – a whopping 71% of respondents answered: ‘Management resist change’. It was followed closely by ‘New technology & business models’ which 67% of respondents also identified.

When I read this, it triggered a feeling of déjà vu. I was sure I had heard this before…

I looked around at some old articles and found one written 25 years ago titled: ‘Improving the performance of workgroups through information technology’ by Clive Holtham.

In 1992 Holtham stated:

The failure to improve the effectiveness of work groups often lies for less in any technical dimension than deep in the management style and culture of an organisation. If key strategic steps are not taken from the top of the organisations, no amount of effort at middle levels can compensate for this

Déjà vu!

Holtham is right when pointing to the top of organisations. We shouldn’t just limit management resistance to the often criticized ‘middle-management’ – or the ‘frozen middle’ as Peter Drucker termed them. A good example of this is when the CEO of one of Australia’s biggest banks announced that his organisation was embarking on a transformation that will move away from a traditional hierarchal structure, and yet, in that same announcement, the CEO also stated that the transformation would cut in two levels below him.

As with most problems that organisations are trying to solve, the problems have existed for a long time. Over the course of time, various frameworks, methodologies, and approaches have come and gone. Panaceas that promise much and purport to solve these problems, turn into fads and die, bowing out to the next wave of ‘new thinking’. As the 71% of respondents to the question: ‘What is the greatest challenge facing your organisation this year and next?’ can attest, Holtham’s issues of management resistance, highlighted in the early 1990s, gives empirical evidence to the fact that the latest panacea does no better than its predecessors

As with most problems that organisations are trying to solve, the problems have existed for a long time. Over the course of time, various frameworks, methodologies, and approaches have come and gone. Panaceas that promise much and purport to solve these problems, turn into fads and die, bowing out to the next wave of ‘new thinking’. As the 71% of respondents to the question: ‘What is the greatest challenge facing your organisation this year and next?’ can attest, Holtham’s issues of management resistance, highlighted in the early 1990s, gives empirical evidence to the fact that the latest panacea does no better than its predecessors

Turning our attention to ‘New technology & business models’, the paradox here is that IT & Digital teams do not have what is required within them to make it work either, or to put it another way, IT & Digital is cultural too.

Over and over again, new technology and business model improvements are thwarted by forces that are not commonly-known, and are illusive to those attempting to make changes. This social inertia is because of the lack of effectiveness in current methods available to technology professionals and managers alike.

Our findings show that the 71% quoted in Australian Transformation and Turnaround Association report is an underestimate. We have found that almost 100% of transformation activities fail, or fail to sustain, due to being fought off by the management culture, or to be more precise, fought off by the organisational system the managers have created.

Why do I want to turn the attention to technological transformation? International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts worldwide spending on digital transformation technologies will reach $1.2 trillion in 2017. That’s a lot of money being spent on change. How’s it all going?

PointSource, in 2017, surveyed 300 decision makers in Marketing, IT and Operations, and published the results in their ‘Executing Digital Transformation study’.

In their key findings, PointSource reported:

Organizations are not confident in their visions for the future: Less than half (44 percent) of respondents are extremely confident in their organization’s ability to achieve its vision for growth, and 4 percent are not confident at all.

Why the lack of confidence? The study found that management culture was an issue. For example, when decision makers were asked ‘Does your culture support change and innovation?’ – it was found that:

  • ‘Department leaders do not regularly collaborate with one another: Just 30 percent of respondents say departments across their organization always come together to problem solve.’
  • ‘Respondents feel their company culture supports the ideals of innovation, but they cannot overcome a lack of internal collaboration that makes executing digital transformation difficult.’
  • ‘(76 percent) of respondents say their department competes with other departments in their organization for resources and/or budget.’

The report goes on to give rationalistic ‘Tips for organisations’ to help them solve these issues. One ‘tip’ is: ‘Organizations must work to remove silos so that all members can collectively contribute to an improved end product that exceeds audience expectations.’

I had that feeling of Déjà vu once again…

Back in 1992, Holtham wrote:

It is necessary to be able to create new, more fluid partnerships and alliances, both within and between organisations

It is almost as though we learn nothing from our experience. The same issues are prevalent 25 years later, supporting the reality that they are designed into the organisation.

Sticking with technological transformation, you can’t move today without bumping into an article or speech that highlights the perils of ‘Being Ubered’ (a phrase coined by Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy, meaning your organisation is at risk of being disrupted and dethroned, and therefore you must evolve). The facts pointed out are stark; very few of the Fortune 500 companies listed in 1955 either still exist, have not gone bankrupt, or have not been merged or acquired by another firm.

Maybe this is another contributing factor for decision makers lack of confidence in their organization’s ability to achieve its vision for growth, as reported by PointSource.

When I was a child I used to watch a futuristic world where the Daleks in Doctor Who would warn “You will be exterminated!” – now I’m an adult, I encounter the world where consultants warn “You will be disrupted!”.

Unfortunately, the prevailing answer to disruption, promulgated by the consulting firms, is to invest in technology. With a $1.2 trillion trough, you can see why. The problem is that to fend off disruption, investing purely in technology isn’t the answer, the organisational operation must also change. Both go hand in hand. Various commentators are now voicing similar opinions. However, is it again Déjà vu?

Peter Keen, in his book ‘Information Systems and Organizational Change’, published in 1980, wrote

When technology is changed, the other components often adjust to dampen out the impact of the innovation. Many writers on implementation stress the homeostatic behavior of organizations and the need to “unfreeze the status quo”

Peter wrote this 37 years ago. It’s not like anyone hasn’t heard of him. If you look at his biography it states that he has been ranked in a number of surveys as one of the world’s top 100 thought leaders in business, the most cited researcher in the academic and business literature, and among the top ten IT consultants!

The challenges of ‘Management resist change’, ‘New technology & business models’, ‘Executing Digital Transformation’ and ‘Not being Ubered’ are all a product of the same superordinate issue; the command-and-control design and management of work, which has dominated organisations for years, and, without method, is remarkably impervious to change.

Peter Keen wrote back in 1980:

We now have adequate theories of implementation. We have less understanding of counterimplementation … overt moves, often made by skilled actors, to prevent a disruption of the status quo.

Technology has been an unwitting instrument and enabler of command-and-control. This is because IT & Digital professionals are being asked to solve problems from a command-and-control point of view, and it is that very point of view that needs to change if we want to enable the technology to work and work well, from the users’ perspective.

Applying a design thinking, human centered, lean-agile approach, by using service design and experience design experts in a command-and-control organisation, will result in little to no discernible change.

The PointSource study shows a deep lack of confidence in executing digital transformation. If organisations are to spend $1.2 trillion, there will be a lot of money poured down the drain. As a consequence, many of the people involved in such programs of work will see their hard efforts wasted. Who wants to put their heart and soul into creating something that is either cancelled or is not valued by the recipients?

This isn’t to say that people at all levels are stupid, or guilty of malintent. This is not about stupidity or intention. Everyone would say they are trying to do things better. What is more appropriate is to state the people are guilty but not to blame, in other words, the crux is that they have been let down by bad perspective and methods.

To solve the challenges of ‘Management resist change’, ‘New technology & business models’, ‘Executing Digital Transformation’ and ‘Not being Ubered’, technology professionals and managers ultimately require a different structure, different measures and, most importantly of all, a different philosophy; one where they move beyond command-and-control, where the prevailing thinking is aligned to customers, and where they see their job as adding value to the work. This will then solve these challenges for good.

If you would prefer not to wait for answers, senior leaders who have crossed a Rubicon, completely re-thinking their ideas about management, who have liberated technology, and built a generative service organisation that produces extraordinary results will each be talking at our upcoming Progressive Leaders Summit at the Melbourne Arts Centre on the 2nd November.

Further articles in this series:

Learning to See; Learning to Lead

In 2014 I presented at the Agile Australia conference on how to sustainably improve performance in organisations using the Vanguard Method. InfoQ recorded the session, and they have published it here.

The videos that are used in the presentation can also be viewed in high quality here

Glyph Inventory 1_quote-open-2 We applied Systems Thinking from Vanguard. Systems Thinking is a fundamental way of examining the entire organisation, not just the IT component. It is a method to really understand what matters to the customer, to understand the dysfunction of current methods, measures and metrics, to get people who do the work, to experiment locally to design new ways of working. It is incredibly profound. I could talk another 3 hours just on Systems Thinking!

Patrick Eltridge, Former Telstra CIO, 9th December 2014  Glyph Inventory 1_quote-close-2

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Part I of my free eBook has been published

This blog has been pretty quiet over the last 2 years. The reason for this is that I have been working on a free eBook entitled “Theories of Work: How We Design and Manage Work“.

The purpose of writing this book has been to educate and create curiosity. It’s all been written in my spare time. I am not interested in making money from it, I am more interested that nothing inhibits a reader from reading it.

There are three parts to the book, and each part will be published online as a Webisode on a new dedicated site The online format protects the content owner, and enables anyone to either read it, or listen to it (an audio version will be coming soon).

I have “road tested” some of this material, in both the West and the East, and there seems to be genuine interest in its content; validating my assumption that it would be worthwhile writing the book. You may have seen my 21st Century PMO talk last year which contained content from Part I, or you may have seen my talk in Japan which contained content from Part II. You may have also read Deming’s 14 Points on my blog which contains content from Part III.

I have drawn on many sources for the content of the book, and in doing so I have kindly been given permission to use content from various authors, scholars, academics, publishers, institutes, and private individuals, under the agreement that it was a free, independent and a non commercial offering.

I have just published Part 1: Origins of the Design and Management of work at

Perhaps this might be of interest to you and/or to people that you know. I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, please tweet or publicise it so that others may also hear about it.

Here is a list of the Design and Management Concepts that are covered in each chapter.

Introduction and Preface

  • Discoveries
  • Purpose of this work
  • Organisational Norms
  • Panaceas and Fads
  • Organisational Traps
  • The Western Management Trap
  • The Problem to Solve

Chapter One: Early Beginnings

  • Craft Production
  • Industrialisation, Manufacturing Systems, Factories, and Assembly Lines
  • Centralised Authority
  • Cost Accounting
  • Payroll
  • Time and Materials
  • Piece-work
  • Production Quality
  • Standardisation
  • Interchangeability
  • Mass Production, Make and Sell, and Batch Production
  • Economies of Scale

Chapter 2: Management Arises

  • The Organisation, Top Down Hierarchy, Hierarchical Responsibilities, and the Organisation Chart
  • Division of Labour, Line Executives and Staff
  • Decentralisation and Division of Responsibilities, Operating Units and the Departmental Divisional Structure
  • Specialization and Functionalisation
  • Working Hours, Child Labour, Unions and Workplace Inspection
  • Personnel Management
  • Management Reporting and Real Time Data
  • Cost Accounting
  • The Salaried Manager, Management Schools, Textbooks and Manuals
  • Standardisation of Tasks, High-Skill Tasks to High-Cost Workers, and Quality of Output

Chapter 3: Management Science

  • Scientific Management and “Taylorism”
  • Productivity Incentives; Payment by Results
  • Work Analysis, Work Breakdown, and Work Measurement
  • Best Practices and Benchmarking
  • Standardized Work, Standard Times, Production Standards, Work Instructions, Job Descriptions, and Work Inspection
  • Division of Responsibility; Planning vs Doing; Blue-Collar vs White-Collar jobs, and Functional Supervision
  • Process Improvement and Waste Removal
  • Time sheets, Employee Discipline and Employee Performance Records
  • Worker Efficiency, Worker Utilization and Worker “laziness”
  • Staff Suggestion Schemes
  • Management Consulting

Chapter 4: Scientific Management!  A Mental Revolution

  • Command and Control; A Global Management Mental Revolution
  • The Efficiency Expert
  • The Bonus System
  • Gantt Charts; Planning Work, Presenting Facts about Progress, and Scorecards
  • Getting Work Done on Time, Standard Times, and Service Levels Time and Motion Studies
  • Removing Idleness and Waste
  • Moving the Work to the Workers (the Moving Assembly Line)
  • Task Cards and Time Clocks
  • Worker Report Cards, Inspection of Performance, Performance Reviews, Removing “Dead Wood” and Laggards
  • Forced Employee Ranking; the “Bell Curve”
  • Inspection of Workers, Supervisors and Executives
  • Vacation Schedules and Records of Absence
  • Quick Fix Change Programs
  • Functions with Department Heads and Targets
  • Quality Inspection
  • Activity Based Accounting
  • Mass Management Education, Courses and Literature
  • Documented Best Practices, Codification of Method, Written Documentation and Instructions
  • Assessing Job Applications Through Tests
  • Breaking Work Down into Components, and Specialized Departmental “Factories”
  • Scientific Management Applied to the Office
  • The Head Office
  • Technology to Aid Efficiency
  • Fordism
  • Flow Production, Routinized and Intensified Labor, Analysis and Documentation of Processes
  • Consumerism; Build, Market, Sell, Service
  • International Operations and Franchising Systems
  • The 8 Hour Day and 5 Day Week
  • Company Discount Schemes

Chapter 5: Administration, Bureaucracy and Numbers

  • Financial Reporting Systems, Continual Financial/Operational Planning and Measurement
  • Key Performance Indicators, Performance Measures, Functional Revenue and Costs Accounting, Return on Investment, Return on Sales – and Sales to Assets, Return on Equity, Financial Targets Against Operational Targets
  • Standard Financial Ratios
  • Modern Cost Accounting Practices; Cost Accounts for Labor, Material and Overhead, Standard Costs, Variance Analysis
  • Corporate Budgeting, Budgets for Cash, Income and Capital, Flexible Budgeting, and the Program Budget System
  • Market Forecasting, Sales Forecasts and Planning
  • In Company Pricing Structures – Same Producer Cannibalization
  • Pricing Formulas and Market Based Pricing Systems
  • Autonomous Functional Divisions and Inter-Divisional Relations Committees
  • Mass Production Coupled With Customer Satisfaction
  • Planned Obsolescence; Annual Product Changes
  • Management Efficiency; a Reliable, Efficient, Machine-Like Process
  • Executive Education Programs, Management Schools
  • Coordinated Control and Decentralization
  • Management by Numbers, Financial Controls and Finance as a Dominant Function
  • Dispersal of Company Ownership and Shareholders
  • Classic Organizational Theory; Scientific Management, Bureaucratic Theory, and Administrative theory
  • Hierarchical Structure of Power, Clear Lines of Authority and Control,
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Organizational Principles
  • Bureaucracy, Bureaucratic Principles, the Role of a Bureaucratic Official
  • Administrative Management Principles
  • Management Functions; Forecasting and Planning, Organizing, Commanding or Directing, Coordinating, and Controlling
  • The Seven Activities of Management – POSDCORB; Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing, Coordinating, Reporting and Budgeting
  • Short, Medium and Long Range Planning; Annual, Two-Year, Five-Year and Ten-Year Plans
  • Sociological Management and the Informal Organization
  • The Executive Function
  • Authority and Incentives
  • The Acceptance Theory of Management
  • Span of Control

Part I: Origins of the Design and Management of Work – Summary

  • The Prevailing Logic
  • A New Mental Revolution
  • Illusive Forces
  • The Need For Change
  • Escape
  • Beyond Your Mindset