Is our practice of management getting worse? Kenneth and William Hopper in their book “The Puritan Gift” considered that there had been a marked decline since the 1970s. They had a high regard for American management of the mid twentieth century, in particular because their CEOs would have what they called “domain knowledge.” In other words they were steeped in the actual process of their firms – if it was manufacturing then they were very familiar with the actual manufacturing process that produced the goods. But from the 1970s, Universities starting promoting MBAs, and a perception crept in that University educated people could manage any organisation. One manifestation of this was the UK banking industry where not one of the CEOs of the top 7 banks had any banking qualification.
Other ares of concern has been that, through our computers, companies can produce any number of “stats” to the extent that managers fall into the trap of managing the whole from visible figures alone. We now have the commonly used phrase “If it cannot be measured it cannot be controlled. In fact those processes that provide measures amount to only 3% of the whole (from Edward Baker – of the Ford Motor Company) They other 97% – particularly the relationship between the parts – does have to be managed. “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth (W Edwards Deming)
A further concern is the use of standards or regulations. The standards have now become the customer. Instead of focusing on the customer, the service user, we have a tendency to think that meeting the standard is sufficient.
So may I open the discussion – Is “management” getting worse?