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What Management Is

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What Management Is

How It Works And Why It's Everyone's Business

Free Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
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What's inside?

Management is not supervising; it is inspiring people to manage themselves in pursuit of a mutual, meaningful purpose.

Editorial Rating



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Those who say, “Good grief, not another book on management,” may rest assured that this volume is worth careful study. Author Joan Magretta and collaborator Nan Stone offer advice based on decades of business experience and, yet, they distill the obnoxious “consultant-speak” so common to the field to clearly understandable, conversational terms. While at times they may seem to have a firm grasp on the obvious – investments are risky and managers need to make good choices – their work is fundamentally sound, offering practical case studies and real-world examples. This book takes common business concepts such as the “80-20 Rule,” shines an insightful light on them and then advances into more complex ground. getAbstract recommends this broad perspective on the growing social importance of effective management.


A Misunderstood Profession

Management guru Peter F. Drucker once observed that business often appears to be “a seemingly mindless game of chance at which any donkey could win provided that he be ruthless.” Those who have made a career of management would contend that there’s a little more to it than that.

Management remains a misunderstood profession, although it is a key driver of the progress of modern society, making it healthier and more productive. Since people rarely view business management in this light, its general reputation continues to decline steadily. In part, this is because onlookers commonly perceive management as the craft of supervising others. In reality, management isn’t primarily about watching others do their work and ensuring that they do it right. The actual business of management is to create value. If customers, stakeholders and the marketplace generally agree that a business has generated good value for the resources it expends, the business is on sound footing. Management’s job is to make sure that happens.

Who defines value? If management’s goal is to increase value, who determines the objectives? Value takes many forms and has many...

About the Authors

Joan Magretta is a senior associate at the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School. She was a Bain partner and strategy editor of Harvard Business Review. Nan Stone spent 15 years as editor and five years as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review. She is currently a partner at the Bridgespan Group.

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