MacDonald, John 1929–
MacDonald, John 1929–
(John Edward Macdonald)
PERSONAL: Born December 17, 1929, in London, England; son of Edward Jackson (an American journalist) and Winifred (a writer) Macdonald; married January 23, 1953; wife's name Angela Rosamond; children: Stephen Dominic Francis, Sara Fiona Jane, Nicholas James Jerome. Ethnicity: "English." Education: Attended Croydon School of Architecture and College of Estate Management, University of London. Politics: Conservative. Hobbies and other interests: Military history, business management, politics, sports development, cricket, soccer administration.
ADDRESSES: Home and office—Banstead Village, Surrey, England. Agent—Mike Sharland, Sharland Organization, Manor House, Manor St., Raunds, Northamptonshire NN9 6JW, England. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Computaquants Ltd., founder, 1958–69; Honeywell Information Systems Ltd., director, 1969–82; Crosby Associates UK Ltd., Crosby, Merseyside, England, managing director, 1983–88; John Macdonald Associates, Banstead Village, Surrey, England, chair and chief executive officer, 1988–. University of Ljubljana, visiting professor. Past member of London City Council; also candidate for British Parliament.
MEMBER: Institute of Management (fellow), Institute of Directors (fellow), Chartered Institute of Marketing (fellow), Institute of Sales and Marketing Promotion (fellow), Royal Overseas Club (fellow).
(With John Piggott) Global Quality: The New Management Culture, Pfeiffer and Co. (San Diego, CA), 1993.
TQM: Does It Always Work?, Technical Communications (Letchworth, Hertfordshire, England), 1993.
Understanding Business Process Re-engineering in a Week, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1995.
Understanding Benchmarking in a Week, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1996.
Successful Communication at Work in a Week, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1997.
Calling a Halt to Mindless Change: A Plea for Commonsense Management, AMACOM (New York, NY), 1998.
Understanding Total Quality Management in a Week, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1998.
Successful Recruitment in a Week, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1999.
Understanding Knowledge Management in a Week, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1999.
But We Are Different: Quality for the Service Sector, Management Books (Didcot, Oxfordshire, England), 2000.
Successfully Resolving Conflict in a Week, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2000.
Dare We Trust Them: A New Vision for Europe, Guild Books (England), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: John Macdonald is a management consultant and the author of many books addressing management practices. Calling a Halt to Mindless Change: A Plea for Commonsense Management was an American Management Association book selection. A special paperback edition was printed and distributed to its 32,000 members. A reviewer wrote in Controller magazine that the book "is brimming with sharp, useful insight for corporate decision-makers and planners. The polished references and snappy opinion inject his premise—that organizational change need not be radical—with zest and humor." A reviewer for Soundview Executive Book Summaries noted that "business gurus, consultants, academics, and even a few flashy CEOs all have the same message: Change or die. Then everyone pitches their favorite remedy, such as total quality management, business process reengineering, self-directed teams, or even feng shui. Enough is enough, says author John Macdonald. The business world is changing, but change is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Instead of mindlessly pursuing quick-fix solutions to all problems, managers and companies need to return to the fundamentals of common-sense management."
Macdonald writes that the core priorities of management—customer service and strategy—can suffer when support functions, such as human resources and public relations, become a distraction. He advises managers to adapt new ideas to the existing values and cultures of their organizations, rather than eliminate what's working and good for the company. He also proposes building evolutionary, rather than revolutionary organizations. Macdonald says evolutionary companies "know how to change when necessary, but they do it without panic or overkill." He uses examples of common sense business practices employed by companies such as 3M and Wal-Mart. His chapters end with questions managers can use in examining their own attitudes. Choice reviewer S.R. Kahn called the book "well organized and easy to read."
Macdonald was interviewed in conjunction with a review of Calling a Halt to Mindless Change in Across the Board. The reviewer called the book "a scathing attack on management practices past, present, and future. Macdonald speaks with the authority of experience. Formerly an executive with Honeywell, he established one of Britain's largest consulting firms, Crosby Associates (also known as PCA), for quality guru Philip Crosby, and later formed his own consultancy. Perhaps because he comes from the world of consultants, he has a sharp eye for consultant-ese—the buzzwords and phrases that elbow their way to the forefront of management thinking and then, slowly but inevitably, fade away to whatever-happened-to status."
When asked by the Across the Board interviewer to explain the central message in his book, Macdonald compared the philosophies of Aristotle and Plato. "The followers of Plato are utopians; they want to impose radical change to improve society—or business—regardless of its effects on people. The management gurus are Platonists who deal in absolutes, in prescribed ways of doing things." Macdonald said Aristotle "perceived the evolutionary way human institutions developed…. Rather than seeking sweeping utopian change, Aristotelians seek to conserve what is good in our society or business. Evolution is never as exciting as revolution, but is much closer to the real nature of people and organizations." Macdonald feels that "business is about change. I'm not against change; I'm against mindless change. I don't want change to be an event—you know, 'Now it's time for a change.' Change is a constant." A Library Journal reviewer said Calling a Halt to Mindless Change is "an excellent aid in countering the din of management guru-babble filling the shelves in this crowded genre."
Macdonald once told CA: "My parents were both journalists and authors. This did not lead directly to writing, but I grew up in an environment of books and writings. From the age of about eight, I read voraciously for pleasure. Throughout my professional and business career I wrote supporting articles. However, a particular individual, Linda Baldwin, a communications executive in Florida, continually urged me to write a book to express my ideas. She gave me the initial confidence to try. It is all her fault. Luck played its part, in that my first book, Global Quality: The New Management Culture, hit a chord and was an international success."
Macdonald said he is influenced by "continuous reading (about five books a week), a growing group of academic friends who provide intellectual stimulus, and a number of international business clients who have the courage to let me try out my ideas and contribute to continuous thought. My background in literary and architectural practice have provided me with a great foundation in form and structure. I find a facility in developing a synopsis and detailed structure for a book. This naturally points to research. From there on it's just hard work. But I need private time to think and write, so I live in country cottages to complete my writing." Macdonald said he was inspired to write because of his "business experience and a natural skeptical approach to every new business fad. I am a natural 'doubting Thomas,' mixed with a sense of humor."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Across the Board, July-August, 1998, review of Calling a Halt to Mindless Change: A Plea for Commonsense Management, pp. 31-34.
Choice, March, 1994, review of Global Quality: The New Management Culture, p. 1174; September, 1998, S.R. Kahn, review of Calling a Halt to Mindless Change, p. 180.
Controller, August, 1998, review of Calling a Halt to Mindless Change, p. 10.
HRMagazine, June, 1998, review of Calling a Halt to Mindless Change, p. 189.
Library Journal, April 1, 1998, review of Calling a Halt to Mindless Change, p. 103.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries, October, 1998, review of Calling a Halt to Mindless Change, pp. 1-8.