Thursday, 8 March 2012

Three Management Gurus Explain Management

A FEW GURUS THOUGHTS ON 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?.

75 comments:

  1. Hi Richard,

    That is a great read Richard from three great minds Richard. Love this: "Management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant".

    And this: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".

    This blog goes straight to the pool room :)

    Gaye

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is important to solve the "greed" instinct in each and every member of the company.....Human beings are designed in such a way that their wants and needs are never completely satisfied. At this pont is where the "best" management/workers equilibrium must be worked on to lessen (no eliminate) their imperfections.

      Delete
  2. We live in a Time of Efficiency and Effectiveness. Covey is much more in line with today's Manager. Pleasing Stockholders is like Pleasing voters So hammer , Like politicians could see lots of ineffective managers . Goals often lead to Objectives that might Shun Efficiency. 1 Covey 2. Drucker 3 Hammertime

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is one of the better overviews of what the actual role of a manger is. Bringing people together to accomplish a common goal is no easy task - even in my military experience where I could issue an official order to comply. Some of the points touched on here were actually covered way back when we still had the NCO Academy (renamed something I've since data dumped). I was particularly pleased to se that it covers managers cannot rest on their laurels and must continue upgrading their skills. Really excellent post!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Richard, love your focus, would suggest read also:
    FIRMS OF ENDEARMENT.

    As to your question: more relevant today than ever and evolved quite a bit since Covey, and Drucker, who was more focused on manufacturers.

    Managers are there to maintain the status quo set forth by leadership. Therefore your review is more aptly applied to leaders responsible for the managers directives.

    Visionary leadership recognizes that the old business model paradigm has failed and the time calls for enlightened leadership

    An awakened company directorship realizes the real assets of the company are its employees, clients, vendors, stakeholders and stockholders and to increase revenue and legacy, all must benefit equally.

    When a company holds all expectations in their business as win-win situations it results in success and then all will experience the company products and services as an enhancement of life.

    The better a company does, the better the employees, vendors, stakeholders and clients will do. The more a company does and the more it gives to the world, the better the product available to the world, the better the world supports the company.

    The more the world supports the company the more the company can support the economy. The more the employees are supported, the more they can support their families, the more the company supports the families the more the families support the company.

    Great article
    cp

    ReplyDelete
  5. Efficiency is the name of the game and Effectiveness of managers brings rewards. If you are not effective and efficient then you will be looking for another job. Covey and his highly effective people brings home more of the issues. Not sure that Drucker is in tune with what is going on today.

    We must motivate people with less, but ask them to produce more and that is not always easy. We must continue to invest in our knowledge base so we can become very effective with our workforce.
    None of this happens overnight, but with a committed manager it can be successful.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Efficiency and effectiveness are not that easy to accomplish in this market as many managers are operating with less staff and less money.
    Many are working longer hours and with less staff and accomplishing more means learning more to be their best in management and with their skills. Covey is more true to the how things are than Drucker.
    The customer has always driven the marketplace. Hammer is correct.
    Managers who don't understand that should get in line for another job.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love that part where Drucker says "constantly reaffirm the company's vision, mission, values, goals and objectives". That goes for everything in life don't you think?

    ReplyDelete
  8. To continue learning, not only about the business, but about the people being serviced, was one of the first things I learned when I first became a manager. So many of the people in management in todays businesses tend to sit back and enjoy what they have earned, which is their new position. Their new position auntomatically requires them to put forth more effort, not less. They are now in a posiotion to make the company look good, while at the same time , make the employees feel good about their work.

    Customer service today is lacking in both departments. The people in this area appear to be there only because there was nothing else for them to do, and they allow it to show in their performance. Better managment skills could place the correct people, with the correct mind-set in this area, allowing the customer to feel they were "wanted" and not just a "bother".

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Richard, reading this reminds me of the findings of Tom Peters "In Search of Excellence: which I summarised as : 1. be close to the customer 2. focus on quality in production 3. develop and nuture an adaptive capacity. While businesses mainly focus on the first two they tend too ignore the 3rd. Most of the business Peters studied have gone by the wayside for this reason. Although we ask managers to focus on people, it is done in a way that is focussed on production rather than developing the adaptive capacity. While that continues we will fail to release the real value in human productivity.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Very nice read. The human factor here is essential to achieve competence by producing incentives through physical and financial factors. We never stop learning and improving.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is one of the great articles I have read! But whenever the question raised about a Manager (employee) job responsibility and accountability; it suppose be consider in both ways (Employer and Employee) to get the real impact. I mean, manager is responsible to mange for anything related to company either good or bad but have to think whether Employer really given h/her authority to perform his jobs or not! Without having the proper authority and environment; manager may not be able to perform or will not perform as required. Thanks for sharing!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I think the job of manager is all about being a facilitator

    ReplyDelete
  13. The landscape has change quite a bit in the last decade. It is common for today’s employee to view themselves as a self-employed even when they are working as part of a team. Also with a lot of companies stressing corporate culture the roll of a manager has expanded since Ducker’s time. In the end it is the manager’s job to not just lead but lead in the right direction.
    While the underlining principals of these works are still reverent they fall a bit short today and need to be updated. IMHO

    ReplyDelete
  14. Richard,

    Allow me to throw my Japanese "two cents" in here. What's oddest to me is how Drucker seems to be revered so much more in Japan than in America, but for people who study "...management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant," having worked for a number of Japanese firms, their actual management style is quite dehumanizing.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow, not signed in with Google, and redirected back, my two paragraphs went "poof." This will be brief, thus...

    To me, noting how the Japanese revere Peter Drucker, one would think "...management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant" - might inspire them to be less dehumanizing in their own management practices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually they are both here Saul... not sure why you need to sign in as settings are open. I will check them again. The other comment starts" Allow me to throw my Japanese "two cents" in here... "

      Delete
  16. If only Managers and owners of businesses were wiser

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'd say Covey's philosophy is more important than ever. I believe an organization's most valuable asset is it's people. Today, people are not content to simply be cogs in a machine in exchange for a paycheck. People want to make a difference. So, one of a manager's most important jobs is to develop a team atmosphere where everyone feels like they are valued and making a difference in the organization and the world. Without that people get bored or frustrated, they leave, and the organization loses production capacity.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have worked in a few companies under some managers. The one who comes to my mind on reading this awesome post is Mr.Ehsan Khan who was my manager incharge in a firm in Ann Arbor Michigan. Back in the day i used to walk 3.6miles to work and many a cold morning he used to pick me up seeing me walk. He goes true to the word Manager.
    "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 made our team a success story.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The one manager who comes to my mind on reading this awesome post is Mr.Ehsan Khan who was my manager in a firm i worked for in Ann Arbor MI. I used to walk a lot of days the whole 3.6miles (no money to buy a car) since i was still a grad student and he used to turn his car come along and pick me up. Made me feel so comfortable in the group of senior professionals.

    "...management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant" - Made us the whole team cherish coming to work everyday and success eventually happened without having to fret about it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for sharing the post. :) Sharing it too.

    ReplyDelete
  21. A manager no matter what the stakes are must try not to bring personal life into profession.

    ReplyDelete
  22. As I am an ISTP (MBTI) Steven Covey resonates best with me and brought following aspects to my mind re. "physical, financial and human".

    1) The situation with Foxconn in China who produce Apple's iPhone and had a number of suicides.
    2) How would you re-act when your P/PC was under targeted attack by a competitor who also knows about the power of P/PC and tries to wear you down ?

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks for the great post Richard, I wish that some of managers read it, because, think that most of them think only about profit.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks for the great post, Ric, I wish that some of managers read it, too.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Peter Drucker is the management genius with whom I have the greatest affinity. His concepts of management are timeless and effective. His ideas have been misunderstood by many managers, however, who failed to read his advice deeply enough, or missed the underlying principles.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Well not mush I can say, this is a great article & thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  27. It took me a while to really warm up to Covey, but over time I've seen his basic principles win through. They're even teaching the "Seven Habits of Happy Kids" as general principles of conduct at my daughter's school. She's generally happy, so it must be working.

    Drucker is a master of management as well. I've read some of his work and it humanizes things to a degree in that it really emphasizes the social underpinnings of the business environment without getting too personal.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I have no personal experience of the corporate world, but I did spend 18 years in two different public service organisations.Like Empire Avenue, the real motivation here was not money, but perhaps the desire to succeed and the competitive spirit. There was also less inspiration by individual leaders within the organisation than you would need in a company, though I do remember one effective manager who used to spend half an hour at the end of the day sitting with us and talking. He was adored.

    Most management gurus assume (as does much economic theory) that individuals act primarily out of self-interest. From observation, I don't believe that to be true - I think that doing something which you believe to be adding to the greater good is a more important motivator. Covey's seems to be the theory which makes the greatest room for this individual motivation. Drucker is much closer to the original 1930s studies which treated humans as units of production, pure and simple.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I don't think Stephen R. Covey got it right. The success of a business is not in PC or hardware. Rather, it rests on human capital. If investing right, employees could create much more success than a hardware could do. Hardware is only a tool. It could improve efficiency, but no more.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Very good reading and many great points! It is all/ should be about humans for humans and humanity! Everywhere and anytime! The time we all realize the interactions and the interconnections the best ditto for all of us!

    Have a nice w-e/ Pazi

    ReplyDelete
  31. Found this fascinating and will read again: "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."

    Yes! And so true in all areas of life. Easy to become so results focused that we forget the process of it all. No process, no results. Once we begin to treat people as if the results they create are the only part we are interested in, results often start to fall.

    ReplyDelete
  32. "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."

    Yes. Once we start to treat other beings as means to an end instead of partners/teammates then we have lost our way and eventually will lose our results. Support that golden goose, get more eggs. Typical Covey - witty, wise and "obvious."

    ReplyDelete
  33. Improve yourself is the most important...

    ReplyDelete
  34. Keeping a balanced perspective between my career and personal life assists me to achieve at a high level. I start the day thankful I have another opportunity to treat others as I want to be treated. This philosophy has worked for me.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thanks for sharing your point of view. I really can't judge whether these business theories are accurate or are more or less accurate than they were in the past.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I've learned in the past few years the trick of using "deliverables" and talk about what I am going to deliver on my annual goals for my manager. They seem to focus on that as described in the article.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Up front and personal, I loved this article. Managing is first and foremost about articulating your thoughts and then showing the best methods to achieve a particular result.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for an excellent blog. I agree that the important lesson is that managers are often so busy producing the desired levels of output that they may neglect the assets that enable them to produce. It is a trap that everyone needs to be aware of and try to avoid.

    ReplyDelete
  39. "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".

    This quote totally sums it up.

    I have applied this thinking since I managed my first #NYC Corporate Chain store back in the 80's. It has always served me well :)

    ReplyDelete
  40. Leaders are readers, is one of the tenets of my life beaten into me as a kid and has done me nothing but good since, this could so easily be translated as learners are earners with no loss of fidelity.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I don't think they are more relevant but they are definitely still relevant. Management today seems to be governed by profit rather than service. In my experience you treat your employees well and listen to them but don't treat them too well or it could be trouble. Never forget how valuable your staff are!

    ReplyDelete
  42. I think that they all have some good points that should be recognized.To keep it simple I beleive we must take care of the inner workings for the outer workings to be at their best.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I think they all have good points.To keep it simple I beleive it is absolutely vital to take care of the inner for the outer to be at it's best !

    ReplyDelete
  44. Some interesting points in the original blog and some even more interesting points in the follow-up comments.

    To me it is quite simple - I have no need to fluff it - management is about people. Any other comments, theories or credos re focus, drive, team-building are superflous. It is about people. If a manager cannot get the best out of the individual members that he is responsible for he should ship out.

    Why do many fail in that role? Because they can't manage themselves and as the mantra goes, "If you can't lead one, you can't lead any."

    ReplyDelete
  45. Hi Richard, What a thought provoking post! I love what you say about Peter Drucker: "Management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant"…'build on communication and individual responsibility' in order to create positive financial results for the company and the most satisfied customers possible.
    Of course, in order to do this a manager has to be a very strong leader with an acute ability to read and encourage their people, which means they need to have an acute awareness of their impact.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I believe that these theories maintain a certain level of relevance today. I also believe that Covey's theory is still the most important, but Michael Hammer's ideas are still very true as well.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Michael, Peter and Stephen have brought it all together in their creative writing. At the end of the day it's all about people and how to build, maintain and strengthen your success through teamwork and good managers.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I have a Masters in Knowledge Management and Drucker had alot to say regarding management especially in the manufacturing industries. He really loved getting managers to focus on finding sharing and exploiting the knowledge within everyone to move forward as a team.
    Technologies might have changed since those days, but the prinicples are still sound today.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Some very interesting points by the commenters too !!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Very interesting article Richard, Covey I have read, but many years ago. The other 2, and I will take on faith, that they were indeed gurus (Wise Teachers) further to this, I have no real experience of management except from within a military environment and as a Casino operative. Two very different stances and approaches to equally different challenges.
    I am not qualified to judge or comment on what has been outlined here as I have no direct experience of general production P The Golden Egg or PC the producer; the Goose.
    What I am able to say from direct experience. Is that the best work I have done, which has recently been highlighted as an important new model and via obscure statistics from the USSR farming practice.
    My best work has been about empowering me, not those I worked for.
    Firstly from the old Soviet Union. Collective Farm workers where allowed a 1/4 acre for their own production of food. 75% of all food in that arcane regime came from the personal 1/4 acre.
    Secondly, research that came out of a weekly practice, within I believe an Australian Company; where once per week, one whole days effort could be focused upon individuals own projects. The only criteia was that the results should be shared with the organisation.
    I don't remember the stats. But is was huge close to 90% engagement and resulting effectiveness to the organisations benefit. What this tells me, is that if we work on things (projects, ideas, problems, challenges) that we want to see brought to fruition; based upon a desired result, The Golden Egg! It is a win win for all.
    This may well be considered as a death knoll to traditional management styles and techniques of old. Further to this, it must be understood that change is the only constant. However this is a tough one because we like stability.
    Thank you Jonathan

    ReplyDelete
  51. I do love Drucker's attitude, but of the three I'd vote for Covey..

    ReplyDelete
  52. I have just spent 30 odd minutes writing my reply to this excellent article; only to find when submitting, losing everything, with a redirect.

    Essentially what I was saying was. having ha a cup of tea to calm me down, was:-

    We do our best work when we are personally engaged and undirected, other than guided by relevance to the task at hand.

    "We need a Golden Egg Goose, No rush"

    The stats and examples I offered for this rather extraordinary statement, were.

    75% of all food consumed in the Soviet Union came from the personal 1/4 acre allowed within the collective farm model.

    An Australian Company that allowed it's staff one half day to do what ever they wanted. The only criteria was that the outcomes were shared with the organisation. The stats here were in the 90 percentile in respect of engagement and productivity.

    Who need managers. Just visionaries and market analysts. Times change and that is the constant.

    My previous was more detailed but the salient points are outlined above.

    Note to self: Write off line, check for typos, add to post; submit.

    Thanks Richard

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry for the hassle actually not lost see above!

      Delete
  53. My experience in management was certainly an eye opener for me in that The disconnect from the top to the bottom was quite vast in the organization I worked in. Upper management was often clueless and without any ability to relate to lower management. In middle management we had to tow their line or get fired. If ever there was a group of managers that could benefit from these three books, it is those guys that I use to work with.

    Great Article too!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Great overview Ric, thanks! I'm mostly with Drucker here. To "enable the enterprise and each of its members to grow and develop" in my mind is the primary tast of any person that is in a management / leadership position. For a lot of organizations their human resources are their most important "capital", and the only way to be profitable in a sustainable way is to adhere to that vision. That implies investing in people too, also in times where the economy is challenging.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Thanks for a great post Ric! I'm mostly with Drucker here. To "enable the enterprise and each of its members to grow and develop" in my mind is the most important task of anyone in a management / leadership position. It's the only way to be profitable in a sustainable manner. That also means investing in people, even in times with a challenging economy.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Enjoyed the article Richard, thanks. You reminded me of the '7 Habits of Highly Effective People' book. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  57. Lots of food for thought here, Richard. I'm definitely bookmarking this for later reading. I'm a lousy manager, lol.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Great post except every time I try to post my comment I am sent on a wild goose chase!

    ReplyDelete
  59. I wonder whether the bank executives responsible for the current crisis read any of these authors!

    Very interesting reading!

    ReplyDelete
  60. I like this post and in particular the conclusions both in that part that says we have to be learning all the time and secondly about the way we have to treat our employes, as our best customers. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  61. Hi Richard,

    That's indeed a great post, Richard. I think a lot of manager should read and applied these advice. Unfortunately we live in a world where the human side is often forget, and the message in in this post is strong to change that situation.

    Thank you!
    Martin

    ReplyDelete