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Concept toolboxes, bundles of instruments that make a broad concept actionable

I keep wrestling with how to differentiate “tools” from other management ideas for general counsel, such as “concepts,” and “processes.” While pondering the distinctions, I realized a fourth category exists, which I have come to call “concept toolboxes.” A concept toolbox comprises many aids and instruments – tools in the toolbox – that accompany and give usefulness to a broad management concept. Examples of concept toolboxes include benchmarks, business process re-engineering (BPR), change management, financial calculations (Net Present Value [NPV], nominal changes, Return on Investment [ROI], and compound annual growth rate [CAGR]), Organizational Development (OD), project management, Six Sigma, statistics, surveys, and Total Quality Management (TQM).

Each of these concept toolboxes boasts many tools that translate the breadth of the idea into operational usefulness. For each of them, specialists write books, teach courses, offer accreditation, and extend the toolbox. This blog offers supplemental comments on each of them (See my post of May 29, 2008: benchmarks other than individual metrics with 28 references.).

A few posts have mentioned BPR in passing (See my post of Nov. 2, 2006: “ratio of law department business processes undergoing automation/business processing reengineering/Six Sigma — TQM — other quality improvement”; Aug. 28, 2005: future state of a reengineered process; Aug. 31, 2005: reengineering leases at Food Lion; May 11, 2008: whether e-billing leads to reengineered processes; Aug. 16, 2006: end-to-end process for contract management; and May 18, 2008: process re-engineering as one of a dozen cost-control tools.).

The other concept toolboxes mentioned , covered in varying degrees here, are cited in alphabetical order (See my post of Dec. 21, 2008: change management with 16 references cited; Sept. 25, 2006: distinguishes performance management, training, coaching, mentoring and organizational development (OD); June 24, 2007: project management with 5 references; Feb. 13, 2008: Six Sigma with 18 references; Jan. 20, 2007: statistics with 28 references; May 31, 2006: statistics; July 21, 2008: survey methodology with 40 references and 25 internal references; and March 7, 2006: TQM tools such as cause-and-effect diagrams, fishbone analysis, logistic regression, process mapping, root cause analysis, and value-added analysis.).

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