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May 31, 2011

Management Tools Fad-O-Meter (Midyear Refresh)

by brainoids

Bain & Company has released the 2011 data from their biannual Strategic Management Tools survey, so I’ve taken the opportunity to update my “meta-analysis” of these tools,  a mashup of the full 20 years of Bain data with Google Books and Google Insights trending.   The result, the Strategic Management Tools Fad-O-Meter 2011, version 1.1.   Without further ado:

The Freshness score is computed as in the original post; Freshness is a composite of the trending upwards (or downwards) in Bain Survey Utilization scores (1993-present), Google Books (1990-present) and Google Search Insights (2004-present).   The scores are normalized to percentile rank, 0-100.   Again, the old touchstone TQM shows that tools don’t have to be fresh to be effective, especially when honed towards their target niche applications.

Satisfaction is also computed as in the original post, it is a composite of the Bain average satisfaction score for the past 10 years, as well as the satisfaction trending direction (thus, “new entrants” which have low absolute satisfaction but are trending upwards, have a chance to stand out, while “new entrants” which arrive with a bang but with experience lose their luster, also get corrected).  Because this score composites both the mean and the trend, it is important to cross-compare against the absolute satisfaction score at the bottom of this post (as an example, even though strategic planning leads all tools in absolute satisfaction, it is ranked as “middle of the pack” in the Fad-O-Meter since its satisfaction trend is nonetheless slightly downward … we seem to have run out of ways to squeeze even further performance from this old touchstone tool, and may need new tools for today’s business environment).

Tools which focus on knowing “yourself”, your competitive environment and your customers occupy strong positions in both buzz and satisfaction (core competencies, vision statements, customer segmentation, benchmarking, scenario planning).

Open or collaborative innovation tops the freshness (hype) chart right now, but has yet to demonstrate itself in Bain satisfaction scores; the case is similar for supply chain management.   After many years, balanced scorecards maintain their buzz but are similarly lagging in generating satisfaction among executives.    Overall, tools which focus on structural or process change (or management) rank either in the middle of the pack, or as laggers, in satisfaction (TQM being a notable exception).

In the Bain 2×2 format (power-boosted to 3×3), here are 10-year composites for both usage and satisfaction (averaging helps bring out continuity across the biannual Bain surveys).   This helps separate (as Bain analysts note) “power tools” (high usage, high satisfaction), “niche tools” (low usage, high satisfaction), “blunt instruments” (high usage, low satisfaction) and “watch items” (low usage, low satisfaction).

If you’re just interested in executive satisfaction, here are the ranked 10-year average satisfaction scores (i.e., reading from right to left on the chart above):


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