• Organisational behaviour

Management is the art of doing and getting done

Management is the art of doing and getting done

Effective execution lies at the heart of achieving superior business performance. And purposeful action-taking by managers – both individually and collectively – lies at the heart of effective execution. But, five years of research by Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal, shows that only a relatively small proportion of managers actually engage in such purposeful action-taking. What are the causes of this pervasive lack of purposeful action-taking by managers? What is different about those who do take purposeful action? What can managers do to enhance their personal action-taking ability? And what can corporate leaders do to create an organisational context in which others can take purposeful action?

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Effective execution lies at the heart of achieving superior business performance. And purposeful action-taking by managers – both individually and collectively – lies at the heart of effective execution. But, five years of research by Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal, shows that only a relatively small proportion of managers actually engage in such purposeful action-taking. What are the causes of this pervasive lack of purposeful action-taking by managers? What is different about those who do take purposeful action? What can managers do to enhance their personal action-taking ability? And what can corporate leaders do to create an organisational context in which others can take purposeful action?

“Management was, is, and always will be the same thing: the art of getting things done”, wrote Harvard Business School professors Bob Eccles and Nitin Nohria in their book Beyond the Hype. “And to get things done, managers must act themselves and mobilise collective action on the part of others.”

Almost ten years later, lamenting what they described as the pervasive “knowing-doing gap” in companies, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Bob Sutton of Stanford posed the question: “Did you ever wonder why so much education and training, management consultation, organisational research, and so many books and articles produce so few changes in actual management practice?… Why knowledge of what needs to be done frequently fails to result in action or behaviour consistent with that knowledge.”

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  • AUTHORS

Sumantra Ghoshal (1948–2004) was an academic and management guru.

Heike Bruch is Professor and Director at the Institute for Leadership and Human Resources Management at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland. She is also director of the Organisational Energy Programme and academic director of the university’s International Study Programme. She is the co-author, with Sumantra Ghoshal, of A Bias for Action (2004, Harvard Business School Press).

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