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Effective Management in Practice
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Effective Management in Practice
Analytical Insights and Critical Questions



October 2013 | 248 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Electronic inspection copies are available for instructors

In this lively and entertaining book, Robin Wensley guides the reader through the basic analytical approaches to decision making required for more effective management practice.

Packed with diagrams, anecdotes and examples which bring the book to life, Effective Management in Practice:

- clearly presents a wide range of management tools, techniques and theoretical insights in just the right amount of depth for current and future managers

- illustrates the need for a balanced approach, emphasizing the importance of the questioning process in clarifying the nature of action proposals and any underlying assumptions

- eschews any approach which advocates one right way but at the same time encourages a greater appreciation of practical issues through analysis and theory

Students of management, academics and any practitioner interested in exploring a range of different approaches to management will enjoy and treasure this book.

 
INTRODUCTION
The Four Starting Issues

 
The Four Strands

 
The Chapter Sequence

 
 
CHAPTER 1: EXTENDING ANALYSIS IN EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT
The Legacy of the Sixties

 
Extended Analysis: Both Analysis and Synthesis

 
The Interrogative Mood

 
Issues of Representation

 
Introducing Time and Movement

 
Choices, Decisions and Action

 
Rationality in Practice: Simplification Approaches

 
Conclusion: Coping with Complex Rationality

 
 
CHAPTER 2: NEVER STOP LEARNING
Some Basic Ideas

 
The Reflective Practitioner

 
Sources of Learning beyond One's Own Practice

 
Conclusion: Reprise on the Reflective Practitioner

 
 
CHAPTER 3: EVIDENCE AND ENGAGEMENT
Evidence-Based Management

 
Risk, Uncertainty and Profit

 
The Wisdom of Crowds (Sometimes)

 
Isomorphism and Lemmings

 
Unexpected Events and Isolating Mechanisms

 
Dialectic, Rhetoric and Consensus

 
Engagement and Management: Scientific Knowledge and Folk Wisdom

 
The Nature of Academic Practice: Statistical Analysis and Evidential Claims

 
Learning from the Clinical Medical Experience of Evidence-Based Practice

 
Return to Managerial Relevance and the Issue of Timeliness

 
Conclusion: Getting the Best out of Engagement

 
 
CHAPTER 4: TOOLS FOR THINKING
Introduction: Comparing Perspectives in 1975 and 2009

 
Complexity and Chaos

 
The Structure of Systems: The Ubiquitous Tree

 
Open and Closed Systems

 
Modularisation and Loose-Tight Linkages

 
Basic Game Theory

 
Insights from Simple Experimental Games

 
Conclusion: Bounded but not Restricted

 
 
CHAPTER 5: MAKING SENSE OF THE NUMBERS
Concentration and Dispersion of Variables

 
Forms of Representation: Frquency Plots and Box Diagrams

 
Understanding Outliers

 
Significance, Correlation and Causality: What's Significance Got to Do with It?

 
Type I and Type II Errors

 
Type III Error: Answering the Wrong Question

 
Type IV Error: Asking the Wrong Question

 
The Rule of 10 Per Cent

 
Mediators and Moderators

 
Time Series Datasets: Lead and Lag Structures

 
Casual Causality

 
Conclusion: Half a Stratistical Loaf may Be Beter than the Whole

 
 
CHAPTER 6: RETURNING TO PRACTICAL WISDOM: THE FRAMEWORKS FOR ANALYSIS
Practical Wisdom: Reasoned Analysis and Deliberate Action

 
Watching Out for Boxes, Linear Diagrams and Other Simplifying Tools

 
Introducing Dynamics into a Static Representation

 
Dr Who and the Time Dimension

 
Specific Representations and Implicit Assumptions

 
Contradictory Common Sense

 
Conclusion: Common and Uncommon Sense

 
 
CHAPTER 7: THE CENTRAL ROLE OF STORIES
Organisational Success and Failure: The Perils of "Learning from the Past"

 
Fads and Fashions

 
Revisiting the Onus of Proof Issue

 
When and How Does the Decision Get Made?

 
The Narrative Approach

 
Conclusion: An Effective Role for Analysis in Management Practice

 
 
CHAPTER 8: LINKING THE CLASSROOM TO THE WORKPLACE
Learning from Case Studies

 
The Challenge of Simulating and Learning from Management Practice

 
Video Material

 
Experiential Exercises: Simulations and Projects

 
Conclusion: Learning through Questioning

 
 
CHAPTER 9: AN ONGOING DECISION PROCESS OF QUESTIONING AND DISSONANCE
Thinking, Seeing and Doing

 
The Case for Slow Thinking and Procrastination

 
Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow

 
In Praise of Dissonance

 
Debates, Dialectics and Dissonance

 
Making Some Sense of Innovation

 
Questions and Answers: the Central Role of "Interrogation"

 
 
CHAPTER 10: PUTTING THE MASTERS BACK INTO MANAGEMENT EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT
Administration, Management and Leadership

 
Stress Testing and Analysis

 
Innovation as Hard Work: The 3M Post-it Story

 
Innovation and Entrepreneurship

 
Understanding Strategic Leadership

 
Useful Insights from Writings on Military Strategy

 
Good Management Research as a Means to Useful Insights

 
Getting Beyond the False Rhetoric

 

'In this book Robin Wensley applies his extensive experience and wisdom in maping four key strands of the managerial process – an interrogative approach of asking key questions, being critical in thinking about our thinking, learning how to organize for both central command and local agility, and appreciating evidence-based management in context specific situations.  Through these four strands Wensley provides a treasury of "practical wisdom" that adds to  "common sense" in important and insightful ways'

Professor Andrew H. Van de Ven
Vernon H. Heath Professor of Organizational Innovation and Change, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

'Robin Wensley’s new book, “Effective Management in Practice: Analytical Insights and Critical Questions,” should be in the bookshelf (or eReader) of every manager, policy-maker, and academic who is interested in understanding and advancing our thinking about management. Wensley’s viewpoint emphasizes the clash of interests and perspectives that is central to real organizations. He puts the fact of “multiple truths” on center stage and describes how judgment and action evolve out of questioning, the skillful use of evidence, and “practical wisdom.”  If you are looking for easy tricks guaranteeing success in management, pass on by. However, if you are intrigued, or even fascinated, by how talented people wring insight and action out of difficult situations, get Robin Wensley’s book now'

Richard Rumelt
Harry and Elsa Kunin Professor of Business & Society, UCLA Anderson

'Robin Wensley is one of the most thoughtful management writers around. In this book he avoids advocating simple solutions to managerial problems; there aren’t any! However he does provide valuable insights which managers then need to apply to the everyday complex organizational situations that they face'

Geoff Easton
Professor of Marketing (Emeritus),Department of Marketing, Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University

'Fizzes with ideas and practical wisdom for thoughtful students, managers and academics. Based on a lifetime of research, teaching,  management and reflection, Robin Wensley’s very personal take on management tools and techniques, frameworks, stories, continuous questioning and the interface between academia and practice is an intellectual tour de force with practical lessons for readers willing and able to listen and reflect'

Patrick Barwise
Emeritus Professor of Management and Marketing, London Business School

'Managers typically use few analytic tools for decision making. Yet we know how susceptible they are to bias and error. Here Robin Wensley brings welcome conceptual clarity and a good deal of common sense to provide real insights and to show how managers can overcome such bias. It is a lively read which managers and academics alike will find useful and illuminating'

Gerry Johnson
Emeritus Professor of Strategic Management, Lancaster University Management School

'Books claiming to address the needs of both seasoned practitioners and serious academics rarely work. But, through a subtle analysis of academic research, its impact, and the identity of multiple truths, this book succeeds in its translation and message to both camps-a rare accomplishment'

Professor Peter McKiernan
Dean, School of Management and Governance, Murdoch University, Perth WA

'In this book, Robin Wensley has deeply probed and neatly dissected the soft underbelly of academic and practical efforts to build a firm intellectual basis to guide managerial action. Relying on his vast experience, encyclopaedic knowledge, and sharp mind, he puts to flight both the pretensions of academic social science and the casual confidence of not very reflective practitioners in favor of a method that keeps asking questions of particular situations in search of a plausibly effective line of action. If the most common form of managerial error is not the absence of certain knowledge, but the lack of a will and capacity to inquire into particulars, then this book will set both academics and practitioners on a far better course than many are now pursuing'

Professor Mark Moore
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1: Extending Analysis in Effective Mangement


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