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The Handy Guide to the Gurus of Management
Charles Handy was, for many years, a professor at the London Business School. He is now an independent writer and broadcaster. He describes himself, these days, as a social philosopher.
Charles Handy
Picture courtesy of Elizabeth Handy
Episode 1: Introduction

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These days practically every city in the world has a School or Institute of Management and if you want a good start to an executive career, then get yourself an MBA degree and become a Master of Business Administration.

Management has always been the invisible ingredient of success. The pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China could not have been built without good management systems. Good ideas are wasted unless someone turns them into a workable activity or business, by management.

But the art of management still seems very elusive. Unlike the physical sciences, in management there seem to be no absolute laws. As new technologies arrive and people find new needs, managers have to adapt and experiment to stay in business.

That's where the gurus come in. Their role is to interpret and spread around what seems to be working, helping managers to cope in a world that changes fast.

The twelve significant gurus we'll be looking at often use common sense, but they see the sense before it becomes common and that's what can give companies and their managers the competitive edge. The insights and methods of the gurus can make a big difference to the way we manage our organisations.

The next episode looks at the work of Charles Handy.

Further reading:
Charles Handy, 'Understanding Organizations', London 1976 Penguin
Charles Handy, 'The Age of Unreason', London 1989 Business Books
Charles Handy, 'The Empty Raincoat', London 1994 Hutchinson

Some useful business words:

a Hindu spiritual leader. Also used to indicate a respected and influential expert on something. About twenty years ago the leading thinkers in the field of management started to be called 'gurus'.

a good start
to begin something well, to have an advantage at the beginning

executive career
a job relating to the management of an organisation and to putting plans into effect

invisible ingredient
a quality which is not obvious

something or someone that is elusive is difficult to find, achieve, describe or remember

spread around
make known or available over a large area or to a large number of people

important, considerable

common sense
practical good sense gained from experience, not study

competitive edge
advantage over others 

understanding of a complex situation or problem

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Business Words in the News
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