Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Henry Foyal's Principles Of Scientific Management

Management has been practiced since time immemorial. When kings planned and executed war strategies, they were practicing management principles, albeit without a conscious understanding of the subject. But only at the beginning of the 20th century was management recognized as a field of study. Though the jury is still not out on the debate whether management is an art or a science, there are certain scientific concepts governing the field of management. Admittedly, these concepts cannot be proved like the concepts of pure science. However, the fact that practice of these principles always gets better results is good enough to categorize these concepts as scientific. That a lot of junk is passed on as management thought cannot undermine the viability of certain well-established concepts of management.

It was Henry Foyal who presented management as a subject of study and distilled the essential elements of management into six functions and fourteen processes. He is appropriately called the Father of Modern Management. Fayol believed management theories could be developed and taught.

Fayol advocated a flexible approach to management, one which he believed could be applied to any circumstance whether in the home, the workplace, or within the state.  In his book, General and Industrial Management Fayol advocates that every citizen is exposed and taught some form of management education and allowed to exercise management abilities first at school and later on in the workplace.

I am in full agreement with Foyal's contention that management can be applied to various situations and his suggestion that every citizen be taught some form of management. The creation of this blog is in consonance with Foyal's advocacy of extending management education to all so that more and more people will learn to use simple management principles for a wide spectrum of activities and reap the reward of superior outcomes of their actions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Management - Can You Learn It?

What is management? Is it possible for anyone to learn management or to be trained as a manager? Some people will assert that management is not a science that can be taught but a skill that comes with one's personality. The argument that management is an inborn trait is cited by people who will show, in support of their stand, innumerable examples of highly successful entrepreneurs with little formal education (and a host of professional managers who have ruined many a business establishment!) However, we can also see a large number of people who have become successful managers after undergoing professional management courses. The reality is that while some people do have an innate aptitude for management, learning the concepts of management  will definitely make one a better manager.

There is one common misconception about management. It is the idea that management concepts are needed or can be applied only to large organizations. Every organization needs it. In fact, it is only from the realization of the importance of management in all the areas of our life that the 'housewife' has been redesignated 'homemaker' during the last few years. If you need to apply management principles for running your home, you obviously need to use management to run organizations.

Notwithstanding such misconceptions, there has been a growing appreciation of the importance of management. This has manifested in the demand for management graduates from companies and the consequent growth in the number of institutions and universities offering courses on various aspects of management.

However, not everyone who wants to learn management gets an opportunity to learn the subject. Some may not have the time to pursue a full time or even part time or distant education program in management. Some may not be qualified to get admitted into a formal management course. And there are others who want to learn management just out of interest but can't think of taking up a course for quenching their curiosity.

To cater to the needs of such people, the essential elements of management are being presented here. The objective is to present the subject in a simple and lucid way so as to be intelligible to all. Yet a discerning reader will find the subject presented both in breadth and depth.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Management and Enterprise

Any business needs four inputs - place, people, capital and enterprise. I am assuming that you have a business idea, to start with. Each of these four inputs is essential, though the quantum of each will vary for different types of businesses.You can do a business from home but you need to earmark at least a few square feet of space for you to sit and work and to keep a few things like accounts books and memos. You can even start a business with almost no capital but you still have to spend a little on things like office furniture etc.You can run the business with no employee but you will have to provide your time and efforts towards the business.

But one thing you can't compromise on is enterprise. There can be no business without enterprise. The word 'entrepreneur' is probably the best term to describe a businessman. The dictionary describes an entrepreneur as one who organizes and manages a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. 'Initiative' and 'Risk' are the key components of enterprise.

Management mostly deals with enterprise. Though a professional manager may not be an investor, he should consider his stake in the business to be as much as that of an investor. Additionally, while an investor is not accountable to anyone else, a manager is accountable to the company, its employees, creditors, customers etc. This onerous responsibility devolves on him because if a manager does not perform well, it will affect everyone connected with the company.

To put it another way, of the four inputs we discussed earlier, the other three inputs are controlled by enterprise. Enterprise can either enhance their value or denude them. Let us see how the failure of an enterprise has a bearing on the other three inputs.

1) Place: When a business fails to generate the expected results, the place utilized by the business becomes wasted. It might have been put to some other use. Thus some other productive purpose is deprived of its potential resource.

2) People: People who are employed by the business lose the opportunity of gainful employment elsewhere. Apart from the fact that the time they have wasted and the income they have foregone are considerable losses to them, their future prospects also become bleak. Such dissipation of human resources is also a loss to the community/country who might have been benefited if these people had contributed their skills in a productive enterprise.

3) Capital: The capital remains idle without earning the interest due for its deployment. What more, it may also be eroded and even totally lost. Here again the loss is not confined to the investor but also to the community at large.

Considering the importance of enterprise, a separate function called 'management' is assigned to it. Management can be considered equivalent to enterprise or as an input that contributes to the quality of enterprise.

In short, the most important factor that governs (no pun intended!) a business is management.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Management - Do you really need this?

The question whether you need to learn management to run a business or carry on an activity may look frivolous. but the purpose of asking this question is to determine what one should know about management. While business schools are doing a great job in training people on how to manage a show, they are also, in my opinion, making things appear more difficult than they really are. In case this statement of mine has a ring of blasphemy about it, look at what a renowned management expert says about management.

"So much of what we call management  consists in making it  difficult for people to work."  - Peter Drucker

If the subject of management is going to make it difficult for people to work, do we need the subject and more importantly, should we use the subject. people who believe that systems are the only things we need and that people are not important will answer this question with a resounding yes. Most others including you (hopefully!)  and I,  who believe that systems can only aid, not replace people will prefer to deliberate on the question before coming out with a definitive answer.

A dispassionate analysis of businesses that have registered phenomenal success and those that have failed and the cross-section of the people who have managed them will reveal two facts.

1) All successful businesses have been managed well.

2) There have been management failures behind all business failures, businesses that have collapsed due to sudden, unexpected, catastrophic external developments being very few exceptions.

So, the answer to the question posed at the outset is simple. yes, you need to learn and use management to run a business.

But the management knowledge one needs to use doesn't have to be complicated, entrapped in recondite concepts and esoteric jargons.

Understanding certain basic concepts of management and applying them sensibly should be a relatively simple process.

This blog aims to unravel the elements of simple and effective management concepts that will be both intelligible and practicable. People with no formal training in management are likely to find these pages interesting, enlightening, revealing and profitable. The experts