Management thinking is notoriously faddish. One week, the gurus, star CEOs, pundits and professors are talking about downsizing as the solution to corporate bureaucracy and inefficiency. The next week, the bandwagon has moved on to knowledge-management. Then to empowerment. And so on – sometimes in cycles, such that old ideas are revived, dressed up and resold to a gullible audience. Serious thinkers might pooh-pooh all this as guru talk, driven by media hype and ‘thought leaders’ hawking their latest books. But fads matter. Often they capture real tendencies and point towards meaningful solutions. Total quality management (TQM), for example, was the hot fad of the early 1990s, but it contained real value. It was popular because many manufacturing firms had overemphasised scale and cost-reduction at the expense of product quality. TQM suggested that maintaining a higher and more consistent level of quality across all company operations was better for long-term performance. Companies and consumers benefited as waste was reduced, and product and service quality increased.