Corporate management – in the Soviet tradition

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I am not a great fan of Sunday newspapers, by and large (and that's despite having written for one for a while). The reason is simple: most of the time they promote a type of consumerism that I consider harmful to the planet, most consumers (who fall into debt to acquire the inessential baubles that such papers promote) and which only really serves the interests of the banks who service that debt. Banks are rarely high on my list of those in whose interests one should act.

But there are occasions when I must make exception. Simon Caulkin gave, as is often the case, good reason for reading the Observer this weekend. He reviewed Russell Ackoff's new book 'Management f-Laws' (delete the '-by the way to get the real meaning of the title). Ackoff was a guru when I was at university. He's still writing at 87 - something I'd much like to do, especially if at that age I might note the type of paradox that Ackoff has recently identified. That is that most companies in the so called 'free market' are centrally planned command-and-control organisations that would not have looked out of place in the Soviet Union with their commitment to long term plans and short term rigid implementation strategies, called budgets (actually, I added the last bit about budgets, but it's the obvious addition to what goes before).

I haven't read Ackoff's book as yet, but I will be now. That's the value of a good article. It makes you want to see the world in a different way.