What Is Management?
 

What Is Management?

May 23, 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

I think each one of us has been confronted with the term of management more or less.

Now, if I asked you what management in fact means, what would be your answer?

Most people I’ve asked that question, just answered in keywords such as “to organize”, “to direct” or “to administrate”.

Certainly, these are also important tasks of management. But as far as countless other tasks could be added, it makes sense to start at first with a very simple and comprehensive definition of management:

“Management means the direction of socio-technical systems concerning the relevant resources with the help of professional methods.”

Socio-technical systems mean a combination of human beings and technology with regard to a specific result.

One can easily imagine that such a system depends on many different factors. Amongst others this is due to the fact that human beings are very diverse creatures.
The technologies are also very different, depending on the type of organization and the field in which you are working.

The term management can define a certain group of people (e.g. top, middle, lower management) as well as a collection of management tasks.

Here is a small excerpt from the different management tasks:

- to report
- to budget
- to decide
- to obtain information
- to defuse conflicts
- to motivate
- to set principles
- to structure
- to provide values
- to rate
- to delegate
- to execute
- to inform
- to derive
- to organize
- to solve problems
- to convince
- to represent
- to set goals
- to design
- to communicate
- to determine methods
- to plan
- to represent
- to take responsibility
- to provide goals
- …

The management is a crucial point in the system structure of an organization.
The main task of management is to align people and resources with a particular goal, to initiate necessary actions and to implement them.

Therefore management has always to find the most efficient way to transform a given actual state into a desired target state.

The major challenges for management result from the complexity, dynamics and intransparency of the corresponding influence factors.

Here is a brief explanation of these terms, since they are really essential for the concept of management:

Complexity: Amount of factors influencing a given situation

Dynamics: Continuous changes of the influence factors over the time

Intransparency: Amount of unknown factors

Example:

Peter F. manages the design department of a small company.

Evaluations of the internal accounting and product distribution have shown that the product portfolio of Peter F.’s department is obsolete and no longer in demand.

Peter F. decides to change this unsatisfactory actual state into a desirable target state. This one includes a product portfolio that matches the spirit of the time and especially the needs of the target group.

For this he has to develop the right ideas together with his team. Simultaneously he must accomplish in encouraging and motivating the members of his team for the upcoming project.

Instantly Peter F. is confronted with numerous questions:

Complexity

- What exactly is the reason that my products are no longer in demand?
- What does the target group exactly want?
- What are the costs and revenues of each product?
- Are there any regional differences?
- Are there certain megatrends that thwarted the former product strategy?
- Do I have the necessary know-how in my department?
- What could be a suitable project plan?

Dynamics

- What if the customer requirements change during the project?
- What if a very important team member suddenly resigns?
- What if the problem has been just temporary and sales increase again?
- What if the target costs of the new product can’t be achieved?

Intransparency

- Can policy have an influence on the project?
- What are our competitors actually doing?
- Are there any new megatrends?
- Are there any project opponents within the organization?

This example is about the strategic planning of a single department.
The problems become even more complex the higher the appropriate level of decision-making in the organization is.

Mangers have to master such confusing situations.
They have to find ways to handle the complexity, dynamics and intransparency of confusing situations.
Management must be able to identify the opportunities and to avoid the risks.

There are various management systems and management techniques available exactly for this purpose. Modern project management
also delivers a huge amount of effective tools and methods for this case.

A basic knowledge of these tools is an essential requirement for the manager job which is by the way as easy to learn as any other profession too.

Modern managers need a high level of technical, social and methodological competence in order to tackle such challenging tasks.

Theoretically these competences can be improved by participating in plan and role playing. But finally nothing replaces the own personal experience.

Learning management means to make experiences, to reflect them and to learn from them.

Of course you can also learn a lot from people who have already gained much experience in the management field.

My blog is intended be a platform for such an experience exchange.

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