Ha!

I admit that I got a perverse kick out of "Beware of Grand Visions and Foresight in Business," a column by John Kay in the Financial Times (04.11). Herewith an excerpt:

Competing for the Future by C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel was one of the most influential business books of the 1990s. ... The authors argued that 'the challenge is to pierce the fog of uncertainty and develop great foresight into the whereabouts of tomorrow's markets.' ... The claim that the constraints on success are limits of our imagination lifts our hearts. ...

Hindsight is a harsh taskmaster. Some of the companies singled out in the business book of the 1980s, In Search of Excellence, such as Wang and Atari, subsequently performed badly. Still, a 2002 Fortune study reviewing the companies Tom Peters and Robert Waterman had picked two decades earlier showed that they had generated shareholder returns in excess of the Standard & Poor's index. This is not true of the Prahalad and Hamel 12, which yielded 6.2 percent per year against 9 percent for the market as a whole. The four companies [Prahalad and Hamel] praised for 'regenerating their strategy' were all subsequently acquired by larger companies in the same industry. AT&T, Compaq, JPMorgan and Banker's Trust ...

I guess my perverse pleasure comes because almost every "big" management book seems to need to devote a paragraph to trashing the companies Bob and I picked. None cites even a dollop of data to support their point ... which doesn't slow them down in the least. We did indeed make our share of mistakes—but the bunch-as-a-whole have been remarkably resilient.

Ah, well ...