Not a new caution, for sure. But the gimmickry changes with the fashions. Recently [and reaching epidemic proportions] writers on subjects such as leadership and organizational excellence have been playing a special trick on us readers. They identify some less-used exemplars of (usually) temporary business success, and write a book explaining that those successful companies are successful because they used the writers’ proprietary recipes for how to do it. Since no one could know for sure whether they did or not, it seems a safe enough explanation. The trick gets somewhat exposed when different writers use the same companies, but different theories.
Or when the writers change their theories and disavow any responsibility for the failure of those once-successful companies. Most of this is by innuendo or implication, of course.
To try to gain visibility or status in the guru pecking order by doing this seems a bit sleazy to me. Since most successful corporate leaders can’t really tell you how it was they became successful, it suggests at least overwrought opportunism to me. I was knew a professor who wrote about business “ethics” who get dismissed for being “unethical.” Duplicity abounds in this market.
Any book that does not attribute a good measure of any executive’s success to luck is misleading.