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Simon Caulkin wrote a weekly management column at the Observer for 16 years, from 1993 to June 2009. Over that time what started out as the expression of a few loosely related – sometimes even contradictory – personal prejudices turned imperceptibly into something else: ‘Observer management’, or if you like a jointly-created manifesto for a ‘management for the rest of us’.
The mechanism that accomplished this miracle was an email address, printed at the bottom of the column. Feedback. A system! Readers wrote in to suggest, praise, complain – and almost always urge me to take the ideas further; with the result that after 15 years of testing and iteration they had cohered into a radical systemic view almost completely opposed to the current reductive, numbers-driven orthodoxy. Never mind what the books said – this was how management was experienced, and it mostly wasn’t a pretty sight. For a flavour of what we were (and are) talking about, see the very last column, published on 14 June 2009, or dip into the freely available archive going back to 2003.
As that last piece noted, the job of remaking management and work as servant, not master, has barely begun. So let’s try again here. It works like this. The article archive is free. It contains mostly Observer articles, but also links to some in other publications, notably Management Today and the Financial Times. The blog is also free. You are welcome to respond and comment on these, for which you need to register. The site will publish a new article every week – a minimum of 48 a year (there may occasionally be a guest article, too). To access the two most recent pieces, I am asking for a subscription of £25 a year: not much, because I want people to read them, but I need to make a living too… That’s it. Abandoned by the national press, at least in the UK, management has never been more invisible. In the wake of a financial crisis that was entirely management induced, never has it been more important to expose the invisible assumptions that have led us where we are and recreate it in a better, more human form. That is what the site is about. Welcome.
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