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Go Forth & Multiply

Management, 1997-present, has been a lot like that movie Gremlins. We started out with a bunch of cute, cuddly new ideas, and before we knew it, the whole town had been overrun with trends. What's next?

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This story appears in the May 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In 1977, there was no such thing as a management trend-not, at least, as we know them today. Back then, almost nobody had heard of Tom Peters' search for excellence or total quality management, much less learning organizations, business process reengineering and the rest of the more recent additions to the management lexicon. The few trends that were around-hoary ideas like management by objective-had for the most part been in place for decades.

How times change. A list of current management tools maintained by Boston-based consulting firm Bain & Co. Inc. contains 66 entries, from visioning and corporate venturing to competitive gaming and data mining. Many more have come and gone unmarked by the Bain counters, including adventure learning, co-opetition, Tao-based management and attempts to translate concepts from theoretical quantum physics to the operation of a business.

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