The Backstory – Improvement

This is the backstory to the book Improvement.


I wrote this book because I am concerned about the future of progressive management in relation to human needs as times change. Will it survive, or will classical management continue to prevail? What will happen to current formulations of progressive management — Toyota’s management system and Lean management — 50, 100, or 200 years from now, in a world increasingly dominated by machine technologies? Will it evolve in ways that reflect improvement or deterioration in thinking and practice? I am particularly concerned about three barriers that stand in the way of continuous progress towards better leadership and management practice:

  • Arguments against progressive management
  • Repetitive mistakes that people make in their efforts to advance progressive management
  • Disinterest in learning from the past

The arguments against progressive management and self-inflicted mistakes resulting from a lack of knowledge of 140 years of progressive management history have thwarted more widespread adoption of progressive management by the leaders of organizations and further extended the useful life of classical management. What should by now be fairly common practice in organizations remains a rarity. How much longer classical management survives depends on movement leaders and practitioners having more than just a current understanding of progressive management. They must gain an understanding of the past with eyes toward the future.

Therefore, I thought it would be beneficial to document the arguments, mistakes, and other relevant information in book that will go beyond my lifetime to help future generations as they press forward with progressive management.

Improvement puts progressive management into historical perspective and helps readers understand the progress that has been made and what has yet to be achieved. It provides clear guidelines that current and future generations can put into practical use so that progressive management will hopefully gain wider acceptance and continuously evolve favorably in response to human needs.

My hope is that people who are new to progressive management begin their journey with a better understanding of history and the obstacles to progressive management as contained in this volume, as well as these related volumes: The Triumph of Classical Management Over Lean ManagementIrrational Institutions, Management Mysterium and The Aesthetic Compass.

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