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By Joan Magretta and Nan Stone. An accessible management primer that lays out the basic principles and enduring lessons about constructing a business model, choosing a strategy, organizing an enterprise, motivating people and measuring how well those people are doing. This book is an urgent call to get back to the basics. It reminds us why the discipline of management truly matters. It rejects the notion that a simple fad can make a meaningful difference.
Rarely has anyone presented the core principles of managing in a single book. This book offers powerful ideas and presents them concretely through stories about real people and organizations.
In simple, engaging prose. Magretta and Stone set out to provide the overall framework for thinking about how to be a manager, and in that, they succeed. Identifies management as the driving force behind key innovations of the past century and presents a jargon-free look at the way its core principles work. Whether you are a CEO of a Fortune company, run a small family-owned business or head a nonprofit institution, this is an extraordinary book that explains the complex facets of management in a simple and elegant fashion.
The authors have done an admirable job in their attempt to demystify what managers really do and the problems they confront. Destined to become a management classic because of its clarity and scope, this book will have value for beginners, for seasoned managers, and for anyone who wants to know how to get people to accomplish something collectively.
It is a pleasure to read. Using uncomplicated prose and appealing stories about real people and organizations, this book provides a refreshingly direct and lucid overview of general management theory and practice. There is a clear presentation of which numbers matter, how to determine a set of goals, and how to set performance measures that will deliver satisfied customers, concrete success for employees, and innovation for future survival.
A thoughtful and engagingly illustrated primer on management—what it is and how it works. It convincingly shows that innovations in the practice of management underlie the extraordinary technological and economic progress of the last century.
Competition is dynamic, even among nonprofits, and the arena in which organizations operate is constantly changing. New business models and new rivals appear without warning. Old technologies evolve and new ones are created. A new generation takes its place in the workforce, bringing with it new attitudes and values. Seasoned leaders who have lived through two or three decades of ground-shaking change understand this.
They have experienced one shock after another and lived to tell the tale. Globalization, the Internet, capital market innovation, social media—each of these, as it arrived, felt like a major earthquake that would forever change the business landscape. As shifts like these are underway, and as you are forced to deal with them, it can feel like you are living through something so radically different that it renders obsolete everything you do and know.
Some management books feed off that feeling. They overstate the case for change, all the while drowning managers in empty jargon and insisting that all the old rules are useless when just the opposite is true. To know what really is different, you must first know what stays the same and why.
Social media, for example, may well replace established channels of distribution and communication, but the fundamental need to reach and serve customers remains the same. If I were writing this book today, I might choose different organizations to illustrate those ideas—Zynga instead of eBay, Zara instead of Target, Zipcar instead of Enterprise.
The names change and the context changes, but the core ideas stay the same. Organizations that were once highly successful often falter. Dell, Inc.
Management is easier to describe than it is to do. Even outstanding companies make mistakes. Management is a discipline. Once mastered it will help you to navigate the external shifts in the business environment and those internal to your own organization. I believe the core ideas have never been as timely and relevant for so many people working in both the private and public sectors as they are today.
Why do I say that? Consider this assessment from BusinessWeek, which chose What Management Is as one of the best books of the year when it first appeared: At a moment when many are disillusioned by the blatant self-interest of outrageously paid business leaders, this book is an urgent call to get back to the basics. It will help leaders understand better how the ideas that form the foundation of good management have.
If anything, we may be even more disillusioned and certainly more conflicted about management today. But we need to look past those celebrity villains and heroes in order to appreciate the discipline of management and the prosperity it creates. This is the difficult work carried out by legions of managers known only inside their organizations. Management makes them possible. Good management makes them—and society as a whole—more prosperous.
In these challenging economic times, we need many more effective managers, and a renewed and more balanced view of management itself. I hope this book offers readers just that. It contains a dose of realism about what management is and some idealism about what it can and should be. Above all, it is a book about why and how management matters. Like most books, this one owes many debts. The oldest was incurred when I got my first taste of managerial responsibility in the late s.
A tome several inches thick, titled Management, was making the rounds. I picked it up without much enthusiasm, like someone forced to eat her spinach.
The author was Peter Drucker, and his book was a revelation. Convinced this was work worth taking seriously, I quit my job and went to business school.
Twenty years later, I continue to discover just how wise an observer Peter Drucker has been. His influence pervades this book. I am grateful to other wonderful teachers as well. Readers familiar with the general management perspective of the Harvard Business School will recognize my debt to the School, its curriculum, and its massive case research effort. Those who know the work of Michael Porter will recognize how much I owe to his truly seminal work on competition and strategy. As an editor at the Harvard Business Review, I had the privilege of working with Porter and with other leading writers whose thinking has influenced my own.
Many of those debts are reflected in the Selected Reading section at the end of this book. Initially, the idea for the book arose from a long series of conversations we had about the enormous impact management has on the quality of our lives.
Management matters to everyone and not just to those who choose the field as a career. That said, we felt that much of the serious work in the field was too hard to read—especially for newcomers—and certainly hard to get excited about.
We wanted to convey to everyone, and especially to those in their early and mid-career years, what makes management work that is challenging, worth caring about, and worth doing well. Her advice on both substance and style is palpable on every page. Many colleagues and friends made time to make helpful suggestions about earlier drafts of this book.
Timothy Luehrman is an extraordinary teacher and practitioner whose advice extended well beyond his specialty in finance. Alice Howard has been a wonderful coach and sounding board on the practical issues of managing nonprofit organizations. Rafe Sagalyn has been the wise counselor one hopes for in an agent. Lastly, special thanks go to my husband, Bill Magretta. If every author had as discerning and sympathetic a reader in-house, the world of books would be enormously enriched. From the outside, business can look like a seemingly mindless game of chance at which any donkey could win provided only that he be ruthless.
But that is of course how any human activity looks to the outsider unless it can be shown to be purposeful, organized, systematic; that is unless it can be presented as the generalized knowledge of a discipline. What were the most important innovations of the past century? Antibiotics and vaccines that doubled, or even tripled, human life spans? Automobiles and airplanes that redefined our idea of distance?
New agents of communication, like the telephone and the television, or the chips, computers, and networks that are propelling us into a new economy? All of these innovations transformed our lives, yet none of them could have taken hold so rapidly or spread so widely without another.
That innovation is the discipline of management, the accumulating body of thought and practice that makes organizations work. When we take stock of the productivity gains that drive our prosperity, technology gets all of the credit. In fact, management is doing a lot of the heavy lifting. The human ability to manage, to organize purposefully, is as characteristic of the species—and probably as old—as the opposable thumb.
But the discipline of management is new. Its roots can be traced to the mid-nineteenth century. Its coming of age as a discipline, however, is an unfolding event of our lifetime. During the past several decades, management has discovered its true genius—turning complexity and specialization into performance.
One sign of this coming of age is the explosion of yearly M. In the United States, the number grew from just five thousand in to roughly one hundred thousand by the year Over the same period, what began as a trickle of writing about management has turned into a flood.
Despite this sea of words—or maybe because the volume is so overwhelming—most people are more confused than ever about what management is, and the popular conception has a lot of catching up to do with the advancing state of the discipline.
As editors of the Harvard Business Review, we had front-row seats at the floodgates. Our mission was to help a wide audience of practicing managers and professionals gain access to the ideas of specialists who normally spoke to a narrow circle of insiders. We asked every author who they wanted to reach and why that reader would be better off as a result. We listened for the punchline or, in our shorthand, the so-what. Most management books are for managers only.
What Management is
What Management Is. Joan Magretta , Nan Stone. Porter Harvard Business School Whether you're new to the field or a seasoned executive, this book will give you a firm grasp on what it takes to make an organization perform. It presents the basic principles of management simply, but not simplistically. Why did an eBay succeed where a Webvan did not? Why do you need both a business model and a strategy?
What Management Is
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