Management Tools: A 10 Year Overview

We have been following Bain & Company’s management tool survey and associated reports since the turn of the century.  As with their initial survey conducted in 1993, they have conducted research every few years since to identify 25 of the most popular management tools currently in use.  The following are our observations based on Bain & Company Management Tools 2000 research (2001 reports) and 2010 research (2011 reports).

Top 10 from 2001 have not changed much in 10 years

80% of the 2001 management tools top 10 are represented in the 2011 top 10.  The top 10 management tools in 2001 are listed in rank order and naming convention, with their 2011 ranking following in parentheticals.

  • Strategic Planning (2)
  • Mission and Vision Statements (3)
  • Benchmarking (1)
  • Outsourcing (5)
  • Customer Satisfaction (4)
  • Growth Strategies (not represented in 2011)
  • Strategic Alliances (9)
  • Pay-for-Performance (not represented in 2011)
  • Customer Segmentation (10)
  • Core Competencies (7)

Added in 2011 top 10 list

  • Balanced Scorecard
  • Change Management Programs

We have defined four categories of management tools

Our quick study of Bain’s published surveys of Management Tools have grouped the tools into the following categories to help us think about management tools with similar characteristics.

  • Stable
  • Aggregated or Moderately Enhanced
  • Economically Cyclical
  • Emerging Social

Stable Management Tools

The majority (15) of the 2011 tools are based on the tools of the same, or similar, content from 2001; while some have been enhanced, the original foundation remains. (2011 naming convention shown)

  • Balanced Score Card
  • Benchmarking
  • Core competencies
  • Customer relationship management
  • Customer segmentation
  • Knowledge management
  • Merger and acquisitions
  • Mission and vision statements
  • Outsourcing
  • Business Process Reengineering
  • Scenario planning & contingency planning
  • Strategic alliances
  • Strategic planning
  • Supply chain management
  • Total quality management

Aggregated or Moderately Enhanced Management Tools

Many of the concepts have simplified through use and embedment into other tools

  • Customer satisfaction measurement (2001) and One-to-One marketing (2001) are included within Satisfaction & loyalty management (2011)
  • Activity based management (2001), Cycle-time reduction (2001) and Pay for performance (2001) have been logically incorporated into Business Process Reengineering (2001, 2011)
  • Corporate venturing (2001) has grown into the more expansive Open innovation (2011)
  • Decision rights tools (2011) are required as part of Business Process Reengineering; Most likely identified as a  separate tool to support Bain’s excellent book “Decide & Deliver” (copyright 2010)
  • Change management (2011) emergence from behind curtain of the extensive 1990’s consultative focus on change; this is possibly an acknowledgment that the content is no longer “differentiable” knowledge

Economically Cyclical Management Tools

The use and popularity of a number of tools is most dependent on the macro-economic environment; these also have a long heritage, are still in use today, and likely will be more prominent in future business cycles.

More expansionary (2001)

  • Growth Strategies
  • Market disruption analysis
  • Real options analysis
  • Shareholder value analysis

More contractionary  (2011)

  • Downsizing
  • Enterprise risk management
  • Price optimization models

Emerging Social Management Tools (2011)

There are a few emerging management tools; all are focused on increasing the social capabilities of the enterprise.  We believe this is initial evidence of the innovation of a new s-curve, one that will drive business growth and improvement over the next generation.

  • Open innovation
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Social media programs


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