‘Frontiers of Contemporary Management’ is a book by Dr.Don Ajith Colonne and focuses on “facing managerial challenges in the dynamic global context”. This 117 page book revolves around four major themes as condensed in its four chapters.
The parameters governing modern business; the significance of knowledge in modern management; existing paradigms in modern management and a summary of the industrial revolution from a strategy perspective. Throughout the book the author draws on his extensive military knowledge as a veteran lecturer for military and business students in several MBA programmes and provides reciprocal learning between aspects of military and business.
In the first chapter Colonne highlights the four governing criteria of modern business, namely uncertainty, ambiguity, paradox and chaos. While referring to phenomena such as Black Swan Events, he also explains uncertainty through several other aspects such as ‘coin uncertainty’ and ‘coconut uncertainty’. “A condition common to the Coin, Dice, Subway, and Racetrack uncertainties is if probabilities of occurrences of all likely outcomes are added, it amounts to 100%. In regard to Coconut Uncertainty, it is a sure 100% in the long run”. He evidences these through several real life examples such as the Tsunami and cricket. In the case of ambiguity he feels that it is best for the entire industry to “move forward cooperatively in convoy until the situation becomes clear”. ‘Paradox’ is again shown through several global examples from the LGBT community in the USA to cannabis legislation in California. Finally ‘Chaos’ which can be triggered through the ‘snowball effect’ the ‘domino effect’ or the ‘butterfly effect’, and may lead to ‘unstable’ or ‘stable’ equilibrium, is evidenced primarily through the time of turbulence in Sri Lanka during the 1980s and the LTTE.
The second chapter deals with the significance of knowledge in modern management. “New knowledge management is all about how information is being gathered, organised and shared in an organization”. At this point of the book, the author includes small witty paragraphs to give a layman reader an interval in-between understanding these concepts, although his use of practical examples ensures that even the normal reader will grasp the theories he explains. ‘Knowledge’ is then explained through its three classifications: implicit, explicit and tacit knowledge. He also explains how knowledge deficiencies can be fulfilled only through cognitive development and this is of vital importance since there is now a shift from experience based management to knowledge based management. According to his military experience, this is a trend that is even seen in the Sri Lankan Army.
The third area of the book deals with paradigms which according to the author needs to accommodate “emerging contemporary knowledge, thinking patterns, physical and mental capabilities and technological progress, which are the four core facets of the operational framework of every human being”. There is a need for new knowledge to be created in order to understand and explain new phenomena and this is seen through the new ‘Army Capstone Concept, transformed by the US Army. Under thinking patterns, out of the box thinking is vital and it is important for a person to know how to use this concept. Lateral thinking is also another important aspect of thinking patterns. The author divides ‘capabilities’ into two categories of physical and mental which he explains through the Indian Tarahumaras tribe who are unable to lie, and Freddy Markham who broke the world record for human powered vehicles, implying that a “craving desire supplemented by enhanced confidence enables setting new standards”. Finally ‘technological progress’ is supplemented by numerous examples and according to the author future wars are going to be technologically driven such as with the use of photometric uniforms and one of the deadliest weapons in the world ‘Metal Storm’. He further explains two important concepts associated with ‘paradigm’: paradigm shift and paradigm blindness which are vital in relation to the development of an industry.
Throughout the book the author draws on his extensive military knowledge as a veteran lecturer for military and business students in several MBA programmes and provides reciprocal learning between aspects of military and business
The final chapter focuses on creativity and innovation. Creativity can generate either ‘breakthrough creativity’ or ‘incremental creativity’ and the author details ‘one of the most significant creative academic conceptualizations’ of his which was the automation of the selection and ranking process of AFS scholarship applicants. In the second half of the chapter he deals with inventions, which he explains through its product life cycle and innovations which can be product innovations or process innovations and concept innovations.
The way this book tackles managerial challenges through the abundance of examples and illustrations makes it accessible to anyone interested in understanding contemporary management
The way this book tackles managerial challenges through the abundance of examples and illustrations makes it accessible to anyone interested in understanding contemporary management. In addition, the author’s diverse background, especially in the military sciences opens up the readership to a diverse audience. The author possesses a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, two Master’s Degrees in Business Management and Economics and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree for a fundamental research in Mathematics. Notable past positions include Advisor on Military Intelligence Analysis to the MOD, Senior Staff Analyst at the IBM World Trade Corporation, Senior Trade Representative for Sri Lanka at the Australian High Commission and Deputy Director of the State Intelligence Service among others. He is presently a lecturer for the military and business students in Sri Lanka on several MBA programmes.