“Management aims to accomplish group purposes with the least expenditure of material or human resources” (Koontz, 1969, p. 415). The term management philosophy seems almost oxymoronic in that they appear to work toward different results. The goal of management should be to improve the organization. (Kirkeby, 2000) suggest that the objective of management has always been the goal of making the group, institution, organization, or nation, into the strongest organism possible. Triumph, subjugation, gaining strength, and survival are all priorities of management.
These along with personal prestige, acquiring real estate (enlarging your territory), making lots of money, and transferring thought to action paint the perfect picture of today’s successful manager. (Kirkeby, 2000) believes that philosophy is just the opposite, suggesting that philosophy deals with power but in a different way, its focus is the power of thought instead of position or bottom line performance. The pursuit of philosophy is not one of financial gain for the individual but one of freedom and liberation of thought.
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Philosophy lends itself to a relationship with reality as opposed to management where goals exist to create, shape, and determine the best reality conducive to productivity. Philosophy does not insist on leading the individual to think, but rather presenting ideas and thought for evaluation and consideration of the individual, allowing them to pick, choose, and add to the original thought, and even completely dismiss.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming – The system of profound knowledge/System Theory Dr. Deming was a known for his work in the many fields to include management philosophy. The management philosophy of Dr. Deming is centered on the system of profound knowledge. The System of Profound Knowledge was presented in his book titled “The New Economics”, (Deming, 1994). The system of profound knowledge provides a map of theory with assist us in understanding the organizations that we work in. It is comprised of four major tenets (Deming); “Appreciation of a System, Theory of Knowledge, Theory of Variation, and Psychology”.
Deming goes on to suggest that “many themes show up in various parts of the System of Profound Knowledge, particularly those relating to organizational purpose, driving out fear in an organization, and understanding the implications of variation” (Deming, p. 11). Systems theory lays out management methods that can create systems out of organizations, and the advantages of these systems. There are many road blocks to the establishing an organizational system, (Deming, 1994) describes some of the road blocks as; focus on the benefit of performance from one aspect of the system.
This feeds self interest and promotion. Internal competition; this leads to business units with holding information and not willing to share resources and the use of the performance appraisal; this creates a mind-set geared toward individual performance. (Deming) breaks down the four tenets that make up the system of profound knowledge; the Theory of Knowledge or epistemology as it is often referred provides a description for a system that focuses on learning and the use of theory.
The Theory of Variation; its purpose is to assist managers in understanding what variation is and how this understanding will improve process within the system. Deming describes management as the ability to predict and for this reason an in-depth understanding of variation is all the more critical. Psychology; is seen and utilized in all aspects of Deming’s system. Deming’s suggest that manages must be able to identify psychological influences on and in their respective units if they are to become a true system.
Scientific Management There are examples all a round us concerning the benefit of Scientific Management; planes, trains, and automobiles, processes, and work environments that we engage each day. All of these examples and many others function and are produced at a higher rate of efficiently due to Scientific Management. Frederick W. Taylor born on March 20, 1865 considered “the father of Scientific Management”. He strongly campaigned for less human interaction and more machine driven production, even going on to say “In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first” (Worthy, 1959, p. 3).
One of the driving factors for Taylor’s scientific management was that he believed the industrial management of his day was run by individuals that had no professional amplitude Deming suggested that “management could be formulated as an academic discipline, and that the best results would come from the partnership between a trained and qualified management and a cooperative and innovative workforce” (Weisbord, 1987, p. 9). “Taylorism” became the first big management fad. Taylor’s scientific management consisted of four principles (Weisbord, 1987): 1.
Replace rule-of-thumb work methods with methods based on a scientific study of the tasks. 2. Scientifically select, train, and develop each employee rather than passively leaving them to train themselves. 3. Provide detailed instruction and supervision of each worker in the performance of that worker’s discrete task. 4. Divide work equally between managers and workers, so that the managers apply scientific management principles to planning the work and the workers actually perform the tasks. Taylor was the first to present a systematic study of interactions among job requirements such as tools, methods, and human skill.
To fit people to jobs both psychologically and physically, and to let data and facts do the talking rather than prejudice, opinions, or egos” (Weisbord, 1987, p. 10). As scientific management increased in popularity Taylor became more outspoken concerning his position on human relations in the work place, assuming that workers were “lazy, won’t take responsibility, lack desire to achieve significant results, demonstrate inability to direct their own behavior, show indifference to organizational needs, prefer to be led by others, and avoid making decisions whenever possible. ” (Montgomery, 1989, p. 6). Compare and Contrast
Scientific Management – although scientific management has played and will continue to be an important aspect of our universal business model for production, it is necessary to note the weaknesses that this method contains. Such as its negative influence in current work environments concerning the human contribution. The tenants of Scientific Management are not applicable to all modern organizations. Nelson notes that “Scientific Management is perhaps best seen as an evolutionary stage in management’s ever developing history. ” (Nelson, 1980, p. 14). Today’s the average employee has increased in their understanding of self-worth and their ontribution to the organization.
Employees are no longer content with just the financial reward for their work; they also receive satisfaction when allowed to participate in the benefit of the organizations success. The Scientific Management system viewed workers as interested only in the economic reward and working toward that end only. (Worthy, 1959, p. 42) states that “in current organizations it has been recognized that productivity and success is not just obtained by controlling all factors in the work place, but by contributing to the social well-being and development of the individual employee.
Scientific management’s negative aspects are apparent when evaluating the value of employees in the context of organizational contribution and success. (Nelson, 1980) uncovers that at the Taylor’s methods for managing the workers were not fully accepted by thousands of manufacturing plants due to fear of alienating the employees. Nelson states that “the principals of scientific management are unquestionably authoritarian in that they assume decision-making is best kept at the top of the organization because there exist a lack of trust in the competence of the employees. ” (Nelson, p. 27).
System of profound knowledge – Dr. Deming’s system of profound knowledge is quite different form that of Taylor’s scientific management in several ways that will be discussed here. The first is in my opinion the most significance, Dr. Deming’s system of profound knowledge unlike scientific management starts with the individual. Transformation of the individual is a key aspect of this system. This transformation is the result of understanding of the system of profound knowledge. (Deming, 1994) suggest that the once a person is transformed, they will understand that their life has value and real meaning.
These principles will then be applied to all relationships, personal, professional, and social. The individual upon understanding the system of profound knowledge now has a point of reference for decisions and for organizations that they are a part of. The one challenge that I can see with the system of profound knowledge is this constant pursuit to improve. How do you start? How do you set down all of the baggage in order for transformation to actually begin? The last challenge that I see with this system is that all four tenants have to be put into play, if one of the four is not operative then the other three become null and void.
Conclusion While both of these management philosophies/systems proved to be of benefit in different times when injected into different organizations, they are not without challenge and negative aspects. People, while they operate within systems, sub-systems, or processes, they are not comprised of them, however complex they are. When individuals are introduced into a system there has to be processes that will gage the individual performance outside of the system as well as within the system. If not the employee will always be subject to the system and not allowed to explore and identify their potential for success within other systems.