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About Mark Addleson

My credentials

I’ve taught for nearly thirty years on two continents.

Born and raised in South Africa, I started life as an economist, working in Johannesburg from the mid ’70s to the mid ’90s. On the faculty of the University of the Witwatersrand’s Graduate School of Management, the country’s top business school, I taught MBAs and executives and headed the General Management area.

Crossing the Atlantic and joining the ranks of recovering economists, I began a second career at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia. I was founding director of a Masters degree in organizational learning and change in the School of Public Policy.

Behind the blog

In parallel with my teaching, on both continents I’ve consulted to a wide variety of organizations – business, government, and non-profit – on strategy, change, and knowledge management.

In the course of both my teaching (I’ve had the great fortune of teaching graduate professionals all my life) and consulting I hear a lot of disconcerting stories about breakdowns in organizations; more so in recent years.

Workers often find themselves in a maelstrom of internal organizational changes – ‘reorgs,’ ‘restructurings,’ and other ‘change initiatives’ – that don’t make sense. For all the turmoil, including ‘downsizing,’ little changes, except that those who still have jobs feel insecure and anxious about their future.

When managers talk frankly about their work, they talk about missed deadlines and projects that fail, blaming poor teamwork and complaining that the tools and techniques they’ve learned to rely on, from performance measures to IT systems, don’t get results and they’ve run out of ideas about what to do.

Management, the books tell you, is all about running organizations profitably and well. Listening to the stories over many years, I've come to the conclusion that this isn’t true and that there is a huge gulf between the work people do (‘knowledge-work’) and the way we run organizations using traditional management principles and tools. Management and knowledge-work are incompatible, period.

I believe many people think this way but I'm not aware that anyone has drawn the same conclusion, although - as I was pleased to discover - Peter Drucker, the great guru of management, apparently entertained the idea.

I’ve written a book describing the problem and what to do about it. The book, published by Palgrave Macmillan, UK, in fall 2011, is titled Beyond Management: Taking Charge at Work. The blog is a way of sharing these ideas with anyone who is interested.