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Hard-Core Management

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Hard-Core Management

What You Won't Learn from the Business Gurus

Kogan Page,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Standard management texts lie: customers don't know what they want, numbers get manipulated and managers can't manage.

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Innovative
  • Visionary


This blunt, irreverent book blurts out what many people in business have long suspected: nearly everything you learned in business school is wrong and most of what you read in corporate mission statements and strategic plans makes no sense. Author Jo Owen takes on all of the shibboleths of yesteryear’s management literature - romance your customer, communicate, invite change and so on - and demolishes each one. The approach is raw and blatant; it stands in relation to ordinary business books much as punk rock stands in relation to easy listening. The author seems to be saying something no one else has dared to say. But do not confuse the novelty of the presentation with the novelty of the material itself. To some extent, Owen’s recommendations revise the conventional wisdom of the recent bubble years and replace it with a new and - if not more sober - certainly less effervescent orthodoxy. getAbstract recommends taking a thoughtful look. What people are starting to say more and more often, Jo Owen has perhaps expressed with the most originality.


Everything You Know Is Wrong

Management isn't what it used to be. It used to be all about boring meetings, politics, low-technology, confusion and inefficiency. Now, thanks to two decades of reengineering, research and refitting, management is lean, wired, nimble, informed, intelligent, responsive and flexible. In short, like the children in radio host Garrison Keillor's fictitious hometown, Lake Wobegone, every manager is above average.

Right. You know better. Everyone working in business has probably had a bellyful of the cant about customer focus, competitiveness, technology and change. Despite all of the pious orthodoxies, vision and mission statements, business is still by and large a matter of boring meetings, nasty politics and inefficiency. It's not low tech anymore. But, far from being a cure, technology has often proven to be a curse. Managers operating in a low-technology environment had a healthy skepticism about what they knew and what they could do. Managers equipped with high technology are like teenagers behind the wheel of a performance car, too confident, too powerful, too excited and dead wrong.

In fact, progress has made business a lot tougher...

About the Author

An entrepreneur and founding director of Teach First, Jo Owen is also the author of the best-seller Management Stripped Bare: What They Don’t Teach You at Business School.

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