Criticism of Triumph of Classical Management

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My book, The Triumph of Classical Management Over Lean Management, analyzed the unusual phenomenon of why generations of leaders ignore, reject, or are indifferent to Lean management, and, consequently, why Lean transformation continues to be rare. Readers overwhelmingly agree that I succeeded in my analysis and provided answers to numerous critically important questions that have existed for several decades.

Of course, no work is without criticism, and the primary criticism that readers have with The Triumph of Classical Management Over Lean Management is that it does not tell readers what to do. The common refrain is “So what do I do now?” That is a surprising criticism given that Lean people profess to believe that others should not provide answers. Instead, they believe people should be given guidance and pointed in a direction so that they can think for themselves and find their own answers. That is exactly what I did.

I provided guidance and direction, and allowed readers to think for themselves. In the book I presented two strands of guidance and direction. The first is a category of action that forces change – Chapter 4, “Dismantling Classical Management.” The second is a category of action that accommodates leaders who are unwilling to voluntarily change — Chapter 5, “Two Alternatives to Lean Management.” And, in the book, I frequently encouraged readers to think of their own ideas (e.g. “Questions to Reflect On” after chapters 1, 2, and 4, and “Homework Assignment” after chapter 3), which few seem to have done, perhaps because they are overwhelmed by the challenge they face.

It seems many readers have are left with a feeling hopelessness that the current situation is unlikely to change no matter what they try to do. With this feeling, they bring to life one of the fundamental objectives of those who seek power, which is to demotivate and incapacitate those who seek fundamental change, either individually or as a group. Leaders put barriers in place to create highly constrained conditions that allow them to preserve (and expand) their long-standing prerogatives and interests.

That is why I offered a pathway for change by force and two pathways of change that largely circumvent Lean management. When confronted with a seemingly insurmountable barrier, you can either find a way to go through it (Chapter 4) or go around it (Chapter 5), as I have described. Or, think hard and find your own ways to outsmart leaders. The large volume of new information contained in The Triumph of Classical Management Over Lean Management should provide inspiration that will allow some readers to outsmart those their leaders.

Another, though far less common criticism (a few people), is that the book’s premise is “class warfare” (cancellation of the book on this basis is a familiar tactic among those who have power or wealth, because they don’t want people to know the truth). The term “class warfare” means the political and economic tension that exists in society due to socio-economic stratification that results from capitalism and numerous other related or unrelated factors. However, it must be noted that the book was not written with this in mind. Yet, it is understandable that some readers could come to this conclusion given that the book shows how Lean transformation is a political problem, not a technocratic problem as it has long been thought to be.

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