Thursday, 8 March 2012

Three Management Gurus Explain Management


Michael Hammer in his book "Agenda" talks about modern managers driven by an economy that is more than ever controlled by the customer. "Managers are rediscovering that business is about execution." He reminds us of the seriousness of watching the cash flow, fulfilling (rather than just getting) orders and the need to go beyond product ideas and focus more on product development. The role of managers is to help their company "devise products and services that satisfy customers and then create and deliver them in a profitable way that satisfies shareholders"; find ways for the company to "retain customers in the face of new competitors and respond to new needs without sacrificing its existing position"; develop ways for the 'company to distinguish itself from other companies with similar offerings and identical goals and maintain its success as times change'. "Devising the answers to these questions," he says, "is the eternal management agenda".

Peter F. Drucker in the "Essential Drucker" says, "Management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant". He also says "the basic challenges of mangers is to find and identify those parts of their own tradition, history and culture that can be used as management building blocks'. Drucker explains that managers must constantly reaffirm the company's vision, mission, values, goals and objectives; "enable the enterprise and each of its members to grow and develop"; 'build on communication and individual responsibility'; "think through what they aim to accomplish and make sure that their associates know and understand that aim; think through what they owe to others and make sure that others understand; think through what they in turn need from others and make sure others know what is expected of them". Finally he advises "neither the quantity of output nor the bottom line is by itself an adequate measure of the performance of management". "Market standing, innovation, productivity, development of people, quality and financial results are all critical". Of course the single most important measurement exists on "the outside of the organisation" how well you create a 'satisfied the customer'.

If you see businesses as social institutions or organs of society (and Drucker does) he adds one more area of concern, which is "managing social impacts and social responsibilities". Here he is referring to such community issues as; being a good neighbour, paying taxes, responsible disposal of waste, minimisation of pollution and a "fundamental concern for the quality of life" including the "physical, human and social environment".

Stephen R. Covey offers us some great insights into life and the pursuit of excellence in his book, '7 Habits of Highly Effective People'.

Covey gives an appropriate view of what mangers need to think about in seeking to effectively [rather than efficiently] manage the resources and people under their charge. Covey uses 'Aesop's fable' of the goose and the golden egg. He describes how the farmer out of greed in an attempt to get all the golden eggs at once, kills the goose. He suggests that within this fable is a "natural law, a principle - the basic definition of effectiveness". "Most people see effectiveness from the golden egg paradigm: the more you produce, the more you do, the more effective you are". He rightly points out that the story shows that "true effectiveness is a function of two things: what is produced (the golden eggs) and the producing asset or capacity to produce (the goose)". Additionally he says, "effectiveness lies in the balance", what he calls "the P/PC Balance". "P stands for 'production' of desired results, the golden eggs. PC stands for 'production capability', the ability or asset that produces the golden eggs".

The important lesson is that we as managers are often so busy producing the desired levels of output that we can neglect the assets that enable us to produce. Covey defines three types of assets, "physical, financial and human". To be an effective manager it therefore follows that we must constantly seek ways to maintain our production equipment, ensure the optimum use of what are always limited cash resources and be committed to the well-being of our staff, colleagues and the people we report to.

A point to note is that Covey believes that, "our most important financial asset is our own capacity to earn. If we don't continually invest in improving our own PC, we severely limit our options". This brings us to the one of the fundamental requirements for all managers (or people), that is that we must see ourselves a continuous learners and seek ways to constantly improve our competence. The PC principle regarding staff is "to always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers".

So to the question: Are their 'theories' more relevant than when they proposed them sometime back and which message is most important for now?.