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Why Management practice is not practical?

In Management on July 24, 2017 at 5:31 am

Practice is a practice that is different from theory. Many of us argue that learning concepts are distinct from its application during practice. In this blog, I will discuss three arguments of practice discussed by academics, industry leaders and my own observation.

Theory and practice

Idea 1: Manager as coordinator and integrator

An academic will define coordination, and integration would be as good management practice for a manager. It does not matter how many hours an employee work. What is important – how a manager is integrating the unique abilities of its employees to achieve the goal. In fact, the success of a manager depends upon how he/she turns people talent into performance. In Physics, a force is called work when there is a displacement of the point of application in the direction of the force.

Idea 2: A Manager as ‘implementer’

Jack Welch (CEO, GE) believed to be a gatekeeper in transmitting the ideas to his managers by choosing right people, rightly compensated and channelizing their energy to implement the idea.

“If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings—and put compensation as a carrier behind it—you almost don’t have to manage them.” – Jack Welch

 Idea 3: A Successful Practical Manager

 In fact, when I returned after completing my PhD from University of Edinburgh, I found that practice requires impractical people. I argue that a short term thinking believes in practical management while a long-term approach leads to a sound management practice. Good management practice is not possible until senior management reward creativity by rightly compensating managers and establish an open and proactive culture.

Contrary to this, a new word for practical is unethical. In large organisations, rules and policies are set by the board of directors. This led managers to reject those projects which fall out of the scope of company’s policies. A practical manager will manipulate the language and may accept all the projects. He may show higher sales in short run and receive the bonus. In long-term also, that manager will gain as the consequences of accepting the projects will be faced by his/her successors. Very soon, rules will remain in paper and manipulation of language in a contract will become management practice. Competitors will also follow and may make it as the industry norm. If everybody is making some mistakes, it is nobody’s mistake.

P-O-L-C framework of management supports managers to respond to the challenge of creative problem solving.

Is something missing in this framework. I observed that management practice in general substantially differ from practical management. Ethics and risk management are important for managers. Ethics support in the decision making of what is right and what is wrong while risk management guides on the consequences. Surprisingly, both are not included in management curriculum at many places considering them as not practical. Planning, organizing, leading and controlling in normal market situation is easy however, it is very challenging in turbulent markets. We need reformist, leaders, veterans who can think, act and implement good management practices.

Corporate practices are full of such issues and to understand these practices, one has to be in business to learn how to do business. Another example could be word ‘professional’. Professionals are the people who are subject matter experts, have undergone specialised training and have capabilities for independent decision making. They are expected to demonstrate ‘ethical code of conduct’. With my current engagements in an Asian market. I found that many people talk about:

“Now a days’ doctors and lawyers have become professional”

I asked them that these doctors and lawyers are professionals from a long time, what’s new about it. They were pointing out the wrong definition of professionalism. From professionalism, they mean ‘unethical’. In this situation, everyone bears the losses due to some short-cuts are taken by others. Management as a practice will not survive until we don’t avoid unethical decision making under the umbrella of being ‘practical’.

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