Please note: This website contains selected essays (Lessons and Thinkpieces) from www.managerismus.com (our German site).

 

Lesson Number 48

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a Poor Substitute for The Honorable Merchant

Years ago the British charity Christian Aid said that the novel CSR programs of many global corporations were a great sham, a big bluff. Management executives were letting themselves be fooled. Since then a huge CSR industry has grown up, to replace the ethos of the honorable businessman. In the meantime CSR consultants have profitably positioned CSR as the systemic ethical consulting for commercial businesses — and for non-profit organizations too. This essay describes the chronic malady this causes and what must be done to cure it. More

 

Lesson Number 47

Orwell 4.0? — Digitalization - Industry 4.0 - Internet of Things

It is often said that every technology has its good and its bad sides. The fusion of digitalization and internet over the past twenty years has given rise to a technology complex whose consequences we must seriously question. Corporate power over both individuals and the market economy has become a digital levithian whose danger is gravely underestimated.

 

Lesson Number 46

RELECTURE 5: Karl Raimund Popper — "All Life Is Problem Solving"

Philosophical, Ethical and Practical Ideas for Management: Karl Popper was probably the most wide-ranging philosopher of the past century. Ever since his youth he addressed social and political questions. In his famous book The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) and subsequent works he analysed the nature of democracy and its aberrations. Austrian-born Sir Karl Popper — unlike his German contemporaries — advocated simplicity and clarity. He made it his duty to speak and write as clearly as possible. The code of professional ethics that he formulated for responsibles in politics, society and administration, and thus indirectly also for managers, is of timeless validity. More

 

Lesson Number 45

Industry 4.0 — Behind the Hype

Today more than ever, hyperbole is used to exaggerate topics. Industry 4.0 is an example, with interested parties 'painting the devil on the wall'. The subject matter is often treated superficially, while practical experience and real-world objections are ignored. This essay aims to put digital transformation in the proper context.

 

Lesson Number 44

Practical Knowledge is an Undervalued Asset

For some time now there has been much talk about the inexorable advance of digitization, all-pervading algorithmism and modeling. So where does that leave experience, practical experience? Why it must not be neglected is explained in this thoughtful essay.

 

Lesson Number 43

Big Company Disease

Corporate obesity is a real disease. It affects mega-companies who have grown too big and are no longer efficient or innovative. They choose a strategy of growth to reap the supposed benefits of scale and synergies. But without proper entrepreneurship, big is not better it is "badder". More

 

Lesson Number 42

General Electric (GE): Back to Basics

Until recently, GE was the star of progressive corporate leadership and was much admired, especially by the capital markets. Now things have fundamentally altered. So new conclusions must be drawn about corporate leadership, also in Europe, and especially by GE’s rival Siemens.  More

 

Lesson Number 41

Ocean of Applications

It is now widely known that IT with digitization and networking is thoroughly changing the world.
What this will mean for research and development (R&D) and ultimately for innovation is comprehensively and controversially described here. 

 

Lesson Number 40

Digital Transformation and the World of Work — Part 2*

It is well known by now that digitization is penetrating all aspects of life. But how it will affect work is not so apparent to many. This Lesson describes what is likely to happen, and the probable impact it will have upon work. 

 

Lesson Number 39

RELECTURE 4: Joseph A. Schumpeter – Preceptor of Change

Schumpeter is renowned as the economist who invented the expression "creative destruction". Schumpeter ranks, together with Keynes, as the outstanding economist of the 20th century. But what do we really know about this multi-faceted economist: of his disjointed life or comprehensive analyses of entrepreneurship and the dynamics of the market economy? More 

 

Lesson Number 38

RELECTURE 3: Innovative Strength and Competitiveness

Prof. Karl Heinz Beckurts (murdered by the German terror group RAF), a former Siemens Managing Board member with responsibility for technology, was a far-sighted promoter of innovation. Thirty years ago, he identified Germany’s strengths and weaknesses in the field of innovation and formulated a forward-looking strategy. Surprisingly his conclusions are still valid today. 

 

Lesson Number 37

Digital Transformation and the World of Work — Part 1*

It is well known by now that digitization is penetrating all aspects of life. But how it will affect work is not so apparent to many. This Lesson describes what is likely to happen, and the probable impact it will have upon work. 

 

Lesson Number 36

Push the Boundaries — Innovate

The media and politics have their favorite themes and their blind spots. The former include retirement pensions, gender politics and taxation, while the latter includes innovation. The explanation — or rather excuses — are well known. But when the future is at stake, there is no excuse for excuses. 

 

Lesson Number 35

The Honorable Merchant Reloaded — The Price of Honor

Behaving honorably means you will have a cross to bear. So be smart and call it a Corporate Social Responsibility program — problem solved. Some chambers of commerce include ethical behavior in their codes of conduct, which is well meant, but hardly heard of, and hardly practiced. Honorable merchants — who and what are they? 

 

Lesson Number 34

Appeal for an “Operating System” for E-Cars

A great innovative challenge for the automotive industry has long been looming. It has become an existential challenge (see other Lessons and Thinkpieces on innovation). Who will set this essential new standard for electric vehicles? Innovation does not just happen, somebody has to do it. 

 

Lesson Number 33

The Powerful Management System of the Biggest "Hidden Champion" in the World  

The term "hidden champion" is a title of distinction. There are many hidden champions in Germany, more than any other country — many are small or mid-sized enterprises (Mittelstand) often located well away from major cities. Another hidden champion, a really huge one, Koch Industries, is headquartered on the Great Plains in Kansas, USA. Charles G. Koch, son of the founder, and present CEO, developed a theory of human action based on ideas from the Austrian School of Economics: Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich A. von Hayek and Joseph Schumpeter. This Lesson offers a unique insight into Koch's thinking and beyond. More

 

Lesson Number 32

Exploit the Potential of Experienced (older) Employees

Complaints are growing about shortages of skilled workers, especially 'professional' engineers. The obvious question for industry is ― how did we get in this mess? Who, as working lives get longer, is ignoring the practical wisdom of older, experienced employees, and why? Here are some approaches to the problem.

 

Lesson Number 31

Banks and the Mittelstand – an Endangered Partnership

Little has improved in the banking sector since the financial crisis of 2007/2008; in fact, some things have gotten worse ― in particular credit for small and mid-size enterprises. This Lesson gives insights into practices which seriously damage the Mittelstand.
At long last, governments and business associations must insist on responsible behavior from the banks too: from the major banks right down to local savings banks.

 

Lesson Number 30

RELECTURE 2: Viktor Frankl ― A Great Human Being and Questioner of Meaning and Responsibility

What kind of a man was it who, after surviving the horrors of Nazi death camps, was able to advocate conciliation? What teachings of this great psychotherapist are still relevant for our day and age which he predicted so well? What lessons can we learn from Frankl about leading our lives and companies? More

 

Lesson Number 29

Supervisory Board ― Where Employee Representation Went Wrong

The practical philosophy of the IG Metall trade union does not really interest the media, is mostly ignored by politicians, and is hard for employees to understand. Using Siemens as a case study this essay offers insights and proposals for reforming industrial democracy (co-determination) in German companies.

 

Lesson Number 28

Siemens Has the Power to Regenerate

After the announcement that Joe Kaeser would replace Peter Löscher as CEO of Siemens, the business media combined surprise with even more speculation. Despite the numerous reports and comments, there was little analysis of the consequences for Siemens. This Lesson provides the missing link― and suggests a positive and optimistic future for Siemens. More

 

Lesson Number 27

Business Strategy ― What are the Learnings of J. Welch and M. Porter?

For a long time these men represented the non plus ultra of corporate leadership and business strategy. So what is left after the hype? Do their teachings still pass a reality check? This lesson gives the answer ― from a professional. Also, why management gurus are bad for your health.  More

 

Lesson Number 26

COMMERZBANK ― The Müller-Blessing Disaster

An observer of German banking, and its history as far back as the Fuggers, Günter Ogger reviews Commerzbank, the semi-nationalized, second largest bank in Germany. Ten years ago, Commerzbank and Dresdner Bank were fourth and third by balance sheet size, jointly bigger than Deutsche Bank; but today after merging Commerzbank is only one-third the size of Deutsche Bank. But Commerzbank's relative size is not the real problem. 

 

Lesson Number 25

RELECTURE: Konrad Lorenz and The Eight Deadly Sins of Civilized Society

Forty years after the publication of his best seller we recall the insights on human development of this legendary scientist. The 'Father of the Grey Geese' was not only a universal scientist of animal behavior, he was also a keen observer of humanity and societies. Here we reconsider Konrad Lorenz's perspectives, especially on economics and politics. More

 

Lesson Number 24

New Age at Siemens — Managerist Administration or Entrepreneurial Leadership?

Over the past months much has been written about Siemens. Criticisms have been levelled mainly at technical mishaps, weak growth, inadequate cost cutting, expensive acquisitions, the spinoff of Osram, and the disposal of individual operating divisions. This essay investigates these negative aspects and asks fundamental questions about managing such a large and complex company. Necessary changes are mapped out, which concern the credibility of the corporate leadership and the motivation of the workforce: all in the best interests of a company still held in high esteem.

 

Lesson Number 23

Certification – On the Way to Standardized Businesses

Auditing and certification, mainly of companies, is a booming business. It all began in Britain with BS 5750, which was the first standard for Quality Management Systems: it was the forerunner of the ISO 9000 series of standards. The fees levied by standardization and certification agencies was followed by globally operating and highly profitable consulting and certification groups. Well over a million certificates have been awarded worldwide for ISO 9001 alone: around 50,000 of these in Germany. The runaway train of certification is now unstoppable. What certification is based upon, its consequences, and where it can lead is elaborated in this Lesson. More

 

Lesson Number 22

The Questionable Glorification of American Management Culture

General Electric (GE) is held up to German industry as a model of good business management. Is this conglomerate really always a step ahead? Where are the (many) down sides? This essay also looks at journalistic honesty: GE is one example, McKinsey another, of too cosy relationships. 

 

Lesson Number 21

Working on Earth or Working on Clouds

Dr. Sandra Siebenhüter, an expert on the world of work, considers dubious trends affecting our working lives. The economization of personal relationships and mutuality is a warning sign for society. More

 

Lesson Number 20

An A-Team of Specialists — Not the Perfect Solution

The 'common-sense' view is that growing complexity can only be properly handled by experts. Klaus Demleitner, an engineer with experience in many fields, and a student of Ludwig Bölkow, speaks out against early specialization and instead recommends monitored solution-oriented processes and more systems thinking. 

 

Lesson Number 19

Broken in Brazil – Unprecedented Mismanagement at ThyssenKrupp

Following its merger this traditional industrial conglomerate on the Rhine aimed to deliver a masterpiece with a highly efficient steel mill in Brazil. The result was an accumulation of enormous cost overruns and incredible delays. Günter Ogger identifies the causes and the complications this has caused. 

 

Lesson Number 18

Managerist-Speak: Jargon Instead of Clarity

Capital markets are not only divorced from goods markets to an unprecedented degree, they are also conquering them. There is indisputable evidence for this: one sure sign is the language used by corporate managers. In this Lesson the synthetic language of Managerists, who speak to please the capital markets, is demonstrated and cures are suggested. 

 

Lesson Number 17

Germany's High-Risk Energy Policy

It happened incredibly fast: on 30 June 2011 the German Deutsche Bundestag passed a 13th Amendment to the Atomic Energy Act (AIG) just three months after the serious accident at Fukushima. Was it a cool-headed decision? Which costs and risks are involved? Armin Sorg considers the pros and cons based on the facts. He reaches some challenging conclusions. 

 

Lesson No. 16

Leopold Kohr and the Limits of Complexity

Many people think the financial crisis, Fukushima and the many Wutbürger (angry citizens) movements spreading all over the world are symptoms of a deep systemic problem. Protestors who also reject the too-big-to-fail argument follow in the footsteps of Leopold Kohr (born 1909 near Salzburg − died 1994 in Gloucester, England) Austrian philosopher, professor of economics, and winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize in 1983. Kohr was founder of the small-is-beautiful movement and his views on life and society are remarkably well-suited for the 21st Century. More

 

Lesson Number 15

Two Paradoxes of Leadership

There is an abundance of leadership seminars, an excess of tools for every area of management — and still poor management persists. Are we trying to cure symptoms rather than causes, guilty of pseudo-professionalism, and token responses? Prof. Dr. Siegfried Augustin looks for answers and practical solutions.

 

Lesson Number 14

Brave New World of Work? — Temporary Work and Subcontracting

It is widely felt that the world of work is being transformed. The consequences of extreme cost flexibility in many sectors are parallel workforces — employees divided into a permanent and a reserve workforce — with a serious loss of security, a clear negative impact on individuals and workplace climate, willingness to build a family, and on society as a whole. Dr. Sandra Siebenhüter describes how Managerist employment policies seem smart over the short-term, but have damaging long-term effects.

 

Lesson Number 13

Verbal Forgery — How Managerists Manipulate Language

That their language is out of the ordinary is no longer noticed by many. What is Managerist-speak, how is it used, and how fairly simple it is to expose its practitioners, are explained. 

 

Lesson Number 12

Ecomagination at work — at GE?

It seems appropriate that companies who, for the purpose of self-promotion, employ ethically loaded terminology such as High Performance, Eco, Passion, Sustainability etc. should be treated with a degree of skepticism. One glaring example is the American 'benchmark' corporation General Electric (GE) which, in the eyes of public opinion leaders, epitomizes environmental protection and sustainability, but — a generally little-known fact — is responsible for one of the biggest-ever environmental scandals in America. This is another disturbing example of a discrepancy between management claims and reality. This is Managerism in its purest form. Read about this split corporate personality.

 

Lesson Number 11

Siemens — General Electric-ification Means Loss of Identity

Many supporters of Siemens are seriously concerned that it is losing its heart and soul: its identity. In this Lesson these concerns are given substance and a new direction suggested. Support our aims by sharing this paper across the company. 

 

Lesson Number 10

Cui Boni?

The excessive bonuses of top managers have evoked incomprehension, outrage and protest. Such behavior is considered to be pure avarice. Why do they need even more money?  The answer is not logical but instead psychological. Read Cui Boni?

 

Lesson Number 9

The Crux of the Matter with Ms Kux

Is the first woman on the Siemens Managing Board a representative of mercenary Managerism? This essay points out aspects not found in media reports and the public relations effort of this talented self-promoter. She ranks as one of the most powerful women in the global economy; the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper lists her in the top 20 ("Even Siemens, a Germany company steeped in tradition, now has a woman on its board"). 

  

Lesson Number 8

The Unexpected Renaissance of Taylorism

The revival of this Manageristic doctrine is a retrograde step. Agility and competitiveness will suffer. More

 

Lesson Number 7

Vorsprung durch Hektik? – The Managerist as Action Man/Woman

No matter how up-to-date and modern these multitaskers promote themselves, in terms of self-awareness they are children of a bygone age. 

 

Lesson Number 6

Vanity Unfair: Ego Trips of Managerists at the Expense of Employees and Shareholders

Extending understanding or even sympathy to the vain must end when, to satisfy their vanity, they abuse their profession or exploit their position. This is increasingly the case, to a startling degree, among today's top managers. 

 

Lesson Number 5

Manager(ists) — The World From Whence They Come

Complaints that business managers are arrogant and authoritarian, have mechanistic thought-patterns, and only cost-benefit arguments, are widespread. Business leaders of this type are true Managerists. But how do they become Managerists? Their socialization often begins early on during business management studies at college and university. 

 

Lesson Number 4

Dishonorable Doctors — with Honors?

Some strange things hardly get noticed. For example, how does a "Mr. Managerist" suddenly become a "Dr. Managerist"? Have they taken unpaid vacation, studied hard, and been secretly awarded a doctorate? Are they doing their fulltime day job, but at night studying books and researching in labs? This Lesson shows you how it's done: how Managerists desperate for academic titles use dishonorable methods to become a Doctor or Professor with honors. 

 

Lesson Number 3

Cabin Boy to the Wheel — While the Captain Stays Below

Why do skilled managers — grown men with years of experience — pay inexperienced young graduates to solve their business problems?   More

 

Lesson Number 2

Fads & Fashions of Management Consultants

Business 'fashionistas', the followers of consulting trends, diversify today and specialize tomorrow. Each standardized concept sweeps like a tsunami through entire sectors, while the recommendations of consultants change every 5 to 10 years.  More

 

Lesson Number 1

Mercenary Managers – Where Do Their Loyalties Lie?

Do senior corporate decision-makers who hire mercenary Managerists as 'turn-around champions' know what they are doing, and what this will do to the company over the long term?  More