Looking Back to Look Forward – Day 4

Wednesday, 05:38am, Old Bethnal Green Road, London

The Executive Kitchen is a place for me to share thoughts, ideas and insights on what I’m learning as part of the MBA, and how they affect me as an individual, but also as a manager. As mentioned earlier, Sheila told us reflective writing can assist our learning process, so – well, here it is: my first real entry.

Having read about the various traditional theories of management, from the late 1800s to our current day, it struck me how fascinating the evolution of management is and how much we can learn from understanding the past. (Yep, my history teacher was right, after all).

Without exception, it seems each management theory is the result of the human drive to improve and advance a particular field. From the early ‘human engineers’ of the industrial revolution to corporate social responsibility that is commonplace today, each theory and those that advocate for it, is the result of current trends, be it in technology, innovation or communication, and also a manifestation of the current social, political and economical tendencies.

I won’t go into a detailed explanation of each theory; instead, here are my key takeaways:

  • Make sure you understand all work processes and functions before suggesting changes. If this isn’t possible, make sure you take advice from somebody you trust and is excellent (Scientific Management).
  • Without overall strategic objectives, you will not be able to achieve your goals (Administrative Management).
  • Nobody likes a mean boss (Rational-Legal Authority vs Charismatic Authority).
  • Identify both formal and informal social groups and think twice before doing any group work (Human Relations School).
  • Don’t be afraid to evolve your management thinking in response to both external and internal factors (Contingency Theory).
  • If you want to influence existing corporate culture, be sure you align the objectives of the individual, the team, the division, the organization and the owner/board (Corporate Culture).
  • Empower your team and co-workers to take responsibility for the quality of their work and encourage the use of problem-solving techniques (Total Quality Management)
  • Encourage and facilitate learning and sharing knowledge as it leads to empowering and developing people, which is ultimately good for the organization and for the individual (Learning Organisation and Knowledge Management).
  • Drive down cost as much as possible without affecting job security/satisfaction, social integration and business identity (Flexible Firm).
  • While cost-efficiency and streamlining is important, don’t transform an organization to a McDonalds restaurant – unless you are selling burgers (McDonaldization).
  • Work with virtual teams and maximise the benefits of virtual organisation, whilst addressing the challenges (Virtual Organisation).
  • Get other people to do specific jobs and tasks that in-house staff don’t need to do (Outsouring and Offshoring).
  • If you want to implement a CSR policy, make sure it’s a company wide exercise, as without individual ownership this can quickly become a moot strategy (Corporate Social Responsibility).
  • Am I able to make people feel fulfilled? (Working Identities)

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