Writer’s work: morgen witzel

Writer’s work: morgen witzel

Morgen Witzel is often recalled as the author of the book Tata: the Evolution of a Corporate Brand, a book the analyses the growth of one of India’s most well-known corporate brands. Over the last two decades, Witzel has garnered the reputation for his thought provoking writing on a variety of management issues. His most recent project is a book titled A History of Management Thought, a comprehensive survey of management thinking from ancient times to the present day. Witzel’s work has been translated into many different languages including Japanese, Chinese, German, and Spanish.

S. PREM KUMAR

Morgen Witzel

Morgen Witzel is often recalled as the author of the book Tata: the Evolution of a Corporate Brand, a book the analyses the growth of one of India’s most well-known corporate brands. Over the last two decades, Witzel has garnered the reputation for his thought provoking writing on a variety of management issues. His most recent project is a book titled A History of Management Thought, a comprehensive survey of management thinking from ancient times to the present day. Witzel’s work has been translated into many different languages including Japanese, Chinese, German, and Spanish.

TSC: How do you approach a new book you work on?

Witzel: Once I have an idea, first up, I just sit and think if it’ll make a book. I bounce it off my connections in the publishing world and listen to what they have to say. I think about who the ideal reader of this book will be and what the purpose of the effort is. Then, I draft a proposal and send it off to agents. Once I have the idea, style and frame of the book, I start with the research process. I usually write pretty quickly after all this. In the case of the book on Tatas, I research and interviewed in India for about five months and then wrote the first draft in about three weeks.

TSC: You’ve written over 14 books on business and management. What is the one big lesson you’ve drawn from this experience?

Witzel: Everything in management is very simple. But that doesn’t mean it is very easy. The core concepts that you need to run a company, you can write them down on two sheets of paper. It is the execution that is really hard. The problem with most management books – including some of my own – is that there is too much focus on the concepts and very little focus on the hard stuff, which is the doing.

TSC: How are e-books going to alter the publishing world?

Witzel: I am very optimistic about e-books. According to some statistics in the U.K. last week, sales of e-books are up by 35 per cent while sales of traditional books are down only by 2 per cent. This suggests that e-books are getting more people to read. E-books will increase sales, reach and penetration.

TSC: Can you give me a quick summary of your latest book A History of Management Thought?

Witzel: I was originally a historian before I went into business and management. In this book, we look at management theories and how they’ve evolved. The book by Daniel Wren The Evolution of Management Thought didn’t go far back enough. We realised that theories on leadership, management, organisational behaviour were all integral to our civilisation. Leadership in the Bhagavad-Gita and management theories in the times of Confucius and Plato might still be relevant. We look at whether we’re approaching management today in the best possible way or did it all just happen?

TSC: Please take us through your experience with the Tata Group.

Witzel: It was a fascinating project. We take readers through the origins of the Group and look at the thought process of J.R.D. Tata and Jamsetji Tata. The book itself was a conversation about the brand. We focused on 10 group companies and how the corporate brand played a role in each of these ventures. Personally, it was a pleasure interviewing some of the stalwarts of the group including Ratan Tata and Krishna Kumar. I was also deeply impressed with R. Mukundan of Tata Chemicals and Raymond Bickson of Taj Hotels, their passion and how deeply they feel about the Group.