Strategic Management Tools: Fad-o-meter 2011
Following up on Monday’s reanalysis of Bain’s management tool survey, I’ve done some mining of trend data for the listed tools, in an attempt to further discern useful trends from fads. Bain provides actual global surveys of usage and satisfaction, but I wanted to pull in more data.
To estimate “freshness” (trending) of management tools, I have constructed a mashup of three data sources:
- Book frequency trends from the GoogleBooks ngram database, 1990-2008
- Web search frequency trends from the Google InSights for Search database, 2004-2008
- Global business usage trends from the Bain tools survey, 1993-2008 (manual compilation)
I’ve converted each of these subfactors to a percentile rank, composited, and then ranked the resulting composite to yield the “Freshness Score”:
Briefly, the lower a “freshness” score, the less a given tool is being written about, searched for, or used (relative to its peers, and compared to the past). A fuzzy metric, but the results pass the sanity test (no one would argue that TQM hasn’t passed its peak hype). The font sizes are scaled to correspond to the absolute frequencies in the Google Books database. (Bigger fonts = more written about).
Since freshness itself is only an indicator of “noise level”, I’ve also color coded the tools above as green, grey, or red, based on a similar score which composites both the Bain average executive satisfaction from 1999-2008, as well as the Bain satisfaction trend over the same period.
Among the higher satisfaction tools, we see some non-faddy stalwarts (strategic planning), some past fads which have since contracted into niche tools with higher performance (TQM), and some older concepts which may now be hitting their prime (core competencies, scenario planning).
Collaborative innovation may be all the rage to write about, but has yet to distinguish itself in the Bain scores. Its scores are, however, better than similarly hyped tools and approaches such as supply chain management and the balanced scorecard; these have yet to deliver. The same can be said for outsourcing and shared service centers … much ado, but the satisfaction scores or trends have lagged. (As usual, actual business performance data would be far preferable to self-reported satisfaction, but those data are likely consultancy deeply held secrets, if they exist at all…)
KM is getting on the stale side, and similarly has yet to deliver, although it is on an upward trend (see below). (Personally, I see KM and CRM as usually-awful enterprise IT tools searching for problems to solve, and hope the future favors lighter weight, more open and interoperable solutions.)
The raw subscores are below:
A final, very interesting result can be found from the GoogleInsights geographic rankings of regional interest in these tools:
Presumably what we are seeing here is that in the western world, management tools are the domain of the consultancies, whereas in the emerging economies (including the developing world), businesses (or students) are increasingly going online to learn about these tools. (For reference, GoogleInsight rankings and scores denote the relative interest in search terms … that is, the relative likelihood for a given time, or region, that people are searching for the specific term rather than anything else. Thus there may not be more total searches, e.g., coming out of Malawi, but searching for management tools comprises a much greater portion of internet “mind share” in Malawi than anywhere else in the world.
The prevalence of emerging African economies in searching for these tools makes more sense when paired with The Economist’s recent assessment of the world’s fastest growing economies. Seven of the top ten forecasted fastest-growing economies in their list are in Africa, including familiar names from the chart above: Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria.