The Changing Field Of Management

Basic Business Cents

Change in management methods are not just inevitable, they are already here. It is moving from traditional management to leadership. Is it passing you by?

Prior to about 1900, in most businesses owners made the decisions and directed employees to follow orders. Then along came Henry Ford who popularized mass production techniques focused on an assembly line. This era was called Traditional Management and was product oriented. In 1950, Japanese invited Dr. W. Edwards Deming to teach them the secret to American production techniques developed during WWII to jump-start their disastrous economy. He taught them process oriented thinking called Process Management.

Some of the elements of Process Management are:

Think and Act from a Systems Perspective

Decisions should be made on the basis of what is best for the total organization. There is always a reaction to every action so care must be made to be sure a decision to improve a narrow area has a positive impact on the total system and not just locally.

Management must share their vision of the future of the organization, its goals and strategy with all employees so they can all work for the common destination.

Challenge the Processes

Effective leadership is always looking for a better way to do things, challenging the status quo. Leaders need to understand the work processes, what is going on, the amount of variation, and why.

Effective leaders investigate waste, rework, and redundancy in work process and constantly work to eliminate it. They simplify these processes and remove complexity. In other words, they innovate present processes and innovate to develop new processes to improve the system.

Continually Seek to Acquire Knowledge

The world is changing so fast that leaders must study and learn continually just to keep up. They need to understand how their people learn. They must understand theory that can be supported or disproved and thereby learn from experience. Without theory of why things happen, experience by itself teaches nothing.


Leaders model the way because others in the organization are watching them and probably emulating them. Employees watch the leaders feet, not their lips. Leaders need to properly train employees to enable them and then empower them to make decisions.

Provide an Environment for Intrinsic Motivation

Leaders understand what truly motivates their employees. Extrinsic motivators such as money and promises of promotion can be dangerous and cause dissention and short-term decisions. Most people are more strongly driven by a sense of satisfaction of worthwhile accomplishments. Motivating efforts should be win-win to build trust and respect throughout the organization.

Whether we are comfortable with change or not, it is happening. We cannot stand still; we are either progressing or regressing. Technology developments and the changing desires and needs of customers are changing at a rapid and ever-increasing pace. This means leaders must constantly focus on improvement and innovation of the processes that produce their products and services while engaging the workforce to join in the quest for moving forward.