My first brush with business management when I was doing my Master’s Degree at Sciences-Po Paris, and I was quite frustrated at how narrow the scope of view was. Financial aspects were given in-depth consideration, but that seemed to be the only real topic of interest. The human nature of companies seemed to be barely mentioned, and very little attention was given to recent developments in psychology, organisation theory, sociology, or pretty much any other field of research that has observed business behaviour over the past 50 years. Even economy seemed to only be considered up to the early 1990s.
During my final year, I happened to read Peter Drucker’s Mangement: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, and my curiosity was piqued. As I continued to read Drucker’s works, as well as those of James C. Collins and A.G. Laffley (amongst others), I started to think there had to be a better, more complete vision of business management than one that only relied on finance. The more I looked at successful companies, especially those in the IT sectors, the more I realised that they violated countless principles that were taught as gospel, and yet fell within or very close to the bounds laid out by Drucker almost 50 years ago.
After graduating, I looked at how emerging team organisation techniques worked, in particular Agile software development and Altassian’s “Fedex Day” programs, and I saw that so many of these techniques work perfectly despite going against the principles of traditional financial management. What struck me was that often these violations were very well documented and known, but despite their great number, financial management considered them “aberrations”, or the mere product of specific circumstances that couldn’t be reproduced.
I don’t believe in that. There must be a better business management theory, one we are writing now. Building on Drucker’s initial observations, but including all the knowledge and experience we have accumulated over the past 70 years, we can create a complete management theory that goes far beyond financial management. I think corporate alignment is the first step in that direction.