Ask any business school what their students most want to study and the answer almost always comes, 'Finance, finance and finance'. There seems to be a widespread fear that a failure to grasp what has traditionally been seen as the hard side of management will precede our professional downfall. Yet, as Simon Caulkin's piece on knowledge management, The knowledge within (p28), highlights or as Gary Hamel endlessly propounds when talking about the need for innovation and the democratisation of strategy, it is often in the soft stuff of management that corporate greatness lies.
Of course, the softest things are often the hardest to implement: Caulkin cites one guru who estimates that only 15% of knowledge management programmes are truly successful - and reckons that the number may be falling if anything.
Yet, the more our economy matures, the more important such soft activities become if we are to be able to create in an efficient timeframe the value that we wish to add. As with Sumantra Ghoshal's ideology that we should all create climates of 'stretch' in our organisations, putting an end once and for all to the era where satisfactory underperformance is the limit of most people's ambitions, the question asked by sceptics is rarely what or why, but how? The management guru who can come up with the answer to that one will deserve to make his - or even her - fortune.