Management Disciplines

Developing your organisation through process requires a higher level of skill and diligence than simply dabbling on a one-off basis. For a start, there is a greater need to be able to consider the causal effects and the implications of any change, and secondly, the resulting impact is greater than with isolated interventions.
Fortunately, a number of tools and methodologies have been developed to help with the task. These have arisen from the application of systemic thinking in a range of subjects, been adapted for management through the experience of others undertaking this work, and have been progressively refined by repeated application. In short, they reflect years of learning in a practical, transferable process.
The temptation, however, is to ignore all this experience. To assume, despite our lack of experience in this work, that we know better, and to plunge ahead with our own ideas (half formed, untested & unrefined).
I know, I do it too (in other areas). And I pay the price!
So, why do we do this? The reason is probably a mixture of blind optimism, gung-ho attitudes, over-confidence, and a degree of arrogance. But it is also in large part down to a lack of time - a lack of time to truly explore and understand the role that we now need to adopt as managers.
The consequences are inevitably inferior solutions, delivered inefficiently, which prove largely ineffective. The proof of this lies in the performance of those companies companies who have adopted the disciplines, compared to their performance before adopting the disciplines - and, if we are honest with ourselves, it also lies in our own experience of change: once we strip away the excuses and the rationalisations, we know in our heart of hearts that management simply has to get more professional at this.
But what do we mean by more professional. What are the disciplines we are referring to? Below is a version of the disciplines for doctors and engineers, recast for managers. Management disciplines are essentially common sense, but the discipline lies in diligently applying it.
The Professional Manager:   The Unprofessional Manager:
Ensures a clear understanding of how value is added to the customer through extensive contact and communication   Assumes customer requirements from what has historically been provided, unless complaints indicate otherwise
Ensures a consistent set of values which are commonly shared   Probably focuses on a narrow set of budget or financial targets which have been 'handed down'
Systematically develops and
harnesses the potential of people
  Will respond to obvious deficiencies - otherwise is ad-hoc and reactive in developing staff
Consciously & professionally
designs and develops all processes
  Sees the work as a number of tasks with no clear improvement targets, unless problems arise
Establishes the data flows to invoke responsibility and enable accurate decisions   Has very little objective data as to the variability of performance, and decisions are largely subjective
Has a clear strategy to monitor and improve all of the above   Simply has a focus on getting through each year, and correcting problems as and when they occur
Seeks to develop their own approach through assimilating new learning on management.   Continues to manage in 'their own way' and holds new ideas and approaches at arms length.
These disciplines may be further explored in the section on
'Systematic Management'

Return to 'Systematic approach'


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