Business school professors are often chided for being out of touch with the real world of management. They churn out unreadable research that is only of interest to a narrow community of academic peers – or so the argument runs - instead of addressing the day-to-day problems arising in the workplace. (For a summary of the prosecution case, see Michael Skapinker’s recent FT column on the matter, mildly entitled “Why business ignores the business schools“.)
There is a much truth in these criticisms but not all b-school profs have difficulty being accessible. Freek Vermeulen, a Dutch associate professor at London Business School (pictured left), is a case in point. Dr Vermeulen - whose first name, rather disappointingly, is pronounced “Frake” rather than “Freak” - has been blogging enthusiastically since the start of the year on his site, “Random Rantings“. It is lively and engaging stuff.
Highlights have included lessons in innovation derived from an Asian contemporary dance troupe (if you want to be be innovative, forget about what you think the customer wants) and a homily about a plumber who spotted a niche in the market for artistically-shaped radiators (the moral being that it is not enough to get lucky - you also have to recognise and exploit what fate throws up). His research into how bad management ideas spread also fuelled a rant against management consultants (he describes them as pin-striped pigeons that transmit dodgy ideas like avian flu).