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Relevance Regained

Relevance Regained

Building on his pathbreaking, award-winning bestseller, Relevance Lost, H. Thomas Johnson presents a devastating critique of the top-down hierarchical accounting systems that have dominated American corporations since the 1950s.

In Relevance Regained, Johnson shows exactly how "managing by remote control" through results-oriented accounting information has obstructed the real business objective: to reduce process variation and lead times for the purpose of obtaining and keeping satisfied customers. The failure of most American businesses to be competitive and profitable, he contends, is their reliance on management accounting information to control people's actions and productivity.

Cost-focused imperatives from on high must be replaced, Johnson asserts, with information systems that link actions with imperatives of global competition. Self-managing work teams, according to Johnson, must own problem-solving information to reduce variation, delays, and excess in processes.

Johnson prescribes the necessary changes in management principles that must replace the outdated style associated with the industrial revolution. Responsiveness to customers—not accounting costs—and flexibility—reducing lead times and removing constraints—are necessary for sustained competitive excellence and long-term profitability.

Johnson discusses the radical overhauls of companies, such as General Electric's work-outs/"best practices" program and Harley-Davidson's work simplification programs, and shows how these strong commitments to new strategies maximize a company's most important assets: people and time. To be globally competitive, he claims, a company's work must be directed toward selling to customers, not just selling products.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743236270 | 
  • January 2002
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
INFORMATION, ACTION, AND BUSINESS PERFORMANCE
The basic cause of sickness in American industry and resulting unemployment is failure of top management to manage....[Reform requires] transformation of the style of American management...a whole new structure, from foundation upward....Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation.
W. Edwards Deming
The transformation of modern management exhorted by W. Edwards Deming must take place at once if American business is to regain its competitive edge in today's global economy. The question confronting CEOs is... see more

About the Author

H. Thomas Johnson

H. Thomas Johnson is Professor of Business Administration at Portland State University in Oregon and Distinguished Consulting Professor of Sustainable Business at Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Washington. He co-authored Relevance Lost: The Rise and Fall of Management Accounting, which is considered one of the most influential management books of the twentieth century by the Harvard Business Review.

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