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7 Metaphors on Management – review


Title: 7 Metaphors on Management : Tools for Managers in the Arab World
Author: Farid A Muna
Publisher: Gower
ISBN: 0 566 08575 5
Price: £18.50

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I’m ashamed to say that when I offered to review this book I wasn’t aware of the sub title. Not having worked in the Middle East, nor working for a multinational nor being of Arabic decent I wasn’t too sure how useful this book would be. However, there are some good metaphors and some useful theories that can be applied outside the Arab world as well as within it.

The metaphors are: the Candle, the Iceberg, the Tripod, the Transit Lounge, the Mosaic, the Helicopter and the Bridge.

The Candle relates to a comment made by the author’s father to him before he left the country. It is about the importance of childhood and the formative years in creating a good manager. The quality of education: less about academia and more about interacting with others and stretching the mind; role models, taking on responsibilities at an early age, ethics, values and self-development are all claimed to have an effect on one’s managerial abilities in later life. Intuitively this seems true.

Skills are likened to the tip of an iceberg with knowledge around the water level and attitude beneath the surface. This metaphor is used to illustrate that attitudes are the key part of everyone’s competencies, but they are the hardest to measure or see until they take effect.

My favourite metaphor is the Tripod, in this self-motivation is seem as 50% of the equation – the camera atop, the three legs comprise of immediate manager, corporate culture and external environment. All these have an influence on the motivation of individuals and teams.

The Transit Lounge tackles the issues faced by those managing in a transitory multicultural environment, the Mosaic covers the author’s research into managing in the Arabian Gulf. These two chapters were interesting, but don’t relate to my personal experience.

A helicopter view is advocated in the sixth section. This idea is neither new nor radical, but the author combines it with creative problem solving and decision-making. Like the rest of the book this section is well-referenced – full credit being given to others for their ideas.

The final metaphor, the Bridge is about strategic thinking, as opposed to strategic planning and then adopting this approach to retirement. It is certainly true that things are changing quicker and that planning is getting more and more difficult. It seems to make sense to apply this to one’s personal life too, but I am left wondering how many of us would be happy with thinking rather than a plan when it comes to our retirement?

I enjoyed reading this book, it is well written, well referenced and only 160-odd pages. But that’s its main problem; it falls between being a thin aide memoir and a reference book. However if you do either work for a multinational or in the Arabian Gulf I think that the more specific sections will be of use.

Matthew Simkin
Strategic Project Developer


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