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Great Management Thinkers

Business thinking has undergone considerable change over the past 80 years. Here are some of the movers and shakers responsible for the change. John Adair. Widely regarded as England's foremost authority on leadership, Adair is best known for his three-circle model of "action-oriented leadership." Born in 1934, Adair asserts that the three needs of task, team and individual (the basis of his three-circle model) are the building blocks of leadership. People expect their leaders to help them achieve the common task, build teamwork and respond to individuals' needs. Key book: Action-Centered Leadership Chris Argyris. Driven by his faith in human nature, Argyris, born in 1923, argues that organizations depend fundamentally on people and that personal development is, and should be, related to work. The problem in many organizations, he has said, is that the organization itself stands in the way of people fulfilling their potential. The task for companies is to make sure that people's motivation and potential are fulfilled and well focused. Key book: Organizational Learning Chester Barnard. Barnard's best-known book The Functions of the Executive may be dated in writing style but his thinking is very much contemporary. Both guru and businessman, ultimately serving as president of New Jersey Bell, Barnard (1886-1961) believed that the responsibility of a CEO was to nurture the goals of the organization. Key book: The Functions of the Executive R. Meredith Belbin. Called by some the father of team-role theory, Belbin, born in 1926, spent time both in academia and industry and now owns a consulting company. As a result of research carried out in the 1970s, he identified eight (later nine) useful roles that are necessary for a successful team. In the 1980s, he extended his work to explore the link between teams and the organizations in which they exist. As teams have become more extensively used, Belbin's significance in management thinking has grown. Key book: Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail Warren Bennis. Born in 1925, Bennis has studied the art of leadership for over three decades. As part of his work, he has interviewed some of the greatest business and cultural leaders of our time, analyzing their approaches to find common traits and success themes that make great leaders. He is the author or co-author of 27 books on leadership, change and management, including his latest Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values and Defining Moments Change Leaders. Bennis is a distinguished professor of business administration and founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. Key book: Leadership and Change Jeffrey Bezos. Founder and CEO of, Bezos may be considered one of the most well known of the entrepreneurs of the e-commerce revolution. The company he created may still have much to prove to the investment community but it has one of the best known online brands in the world. Key work: Robert Blake. Along with Jane Mouton, Blake (born in 1918) created the "managerial grid" that designates various styles of leadership. The grid identifies four extremes of management style and measures them on two dimensions: concern for production and concern for people. Key book: The Managerial Grid Kenneth Blanchard. His book, The One-Minute Manager, co-authored with Spencer Johnson, was ridiculed by the academic community but the best-seller made Blanchard a familiar name to executives. Similar books continue to keep him in the minds of managers. His message is a simple but popular one: we can all be, and inspire, winners, and achieving a healthy, balanced and happy life is possible for all of us. Key book: The One-Minute Manager Richard Boyatzis. He is professor of organizational behavior and chair of the Department of Organizational Behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve. For more than 30 years, he has played a pivotal role in identifying managerial competencies. More recently, he has turned his attention to the traits and characteristics of leadership. Key book: Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence (with Dan Goleman) Stephen Case. When Case founded America Online, he seemed instinctively to know what customers wanted. Not burdened with a technological background, he pitched the product at the average consumer and made the consumer experience as simple and as user-friendly as possible. "Our strategy has always been crystal clear," he told a reporter in an interview in 1998. "Consumers want one place where they can find good Internet content and meet interesting people. And they want someone to make it easy for them." Key work: AOL Stephen R. Covey. In his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey offers a holistic approach to life and work that has struck a significant chord with over-worked employees and managers. Habits 1, 2 and 3 deal with self-mastery. Habits 4, 5 and 6 deal with teamwork, cooperation and communication. Habit 7 embodies all of the other habits to help an individual move toward continuous improvement. His books can be found in the self-help section of bookstores, but his work would seem to offer answers to managers in this Age of Ambiguity. Key book: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Philip Crosby. Remember the concept "zero defects?" Crosby came up with it and it was fundamental to his work on quality assurance. At the height of the quality movement, Crosby's organization?Philip Crosby Associates?reportedly advised 200 of the Fortune 500. Key book: Quality Is Free Terence Deal. Although his book, with co-author Allan Kennedy of McKinsey & Co., dealt with corporate culture, Deal's argument for strong cultures led to businesses examining many internal elements, including rituals and values. Key book: Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life Michael Dell. The youngest CEO ever to run a Fortune 500 company, the founder of Dell Computer Corporation took the direct sales model and elevated it to an art form. Dell Computer Corporation has been consistently ranked number two in the world in terms of liquidity, profitability and growth among all computer systems companies and number one in the U.S. His products may not be the most innovative, but his inventory and delivery times show his ability to reap the most reward from the new manufacturing technologies. Key work: Dell Computer Corporation W. Edwards Deming. Widely acknowledged as the leading management thinker in the field of quality, Deming is credited with Japan's post-war economic transformation. The value of his ideas and practices were not recognized until much later in the U.S. Deming's 14 points add up to a management philosophy that spans both the scientific (hard) management and human relations (soft) management schools. Key book: Out of the Crisis: Quality, Productivity and Competitive Position Walt Disney. Disney, born 1901, started with a cartoon figure, Mickey, and finished with a film studio and amusement park, Disneyland. Disney World, opened in 1971 in Florida, following Disney's death in 1966. Amusement parks followed in other countries. Today, the company that Disney created spans a huge entertainment industry that even he could not have imagined. Key work: Disney Corporation Peter F. Drucker. If there is a father of 20th century management, it is Peter Drucker, born in 1909. While Drucker prefers to be known as a writer, both practicing managers and business journalists throughout the world regard him as the management guru. He remains the doyen of modern management theory, not so much because he can lay claim to being the founder of any particular concept but because he has demonstrated the rare ability to apply common sense to the analysis of management challenges. His work is considerable?33 books. Key book: The Practice of Management Bill Gates. Gates dropped out of Harvard University to devote his energies to Microsoft, the firm he founded while a sophomore there. Guided by the belief that the computer would be a valuable tool on every office desktop and in every home, he began developing software for personal computers. Gates' vision for personal computing has been central to the success of Microsoft and the software industry. Today, the company he founded has more than 50,000 employees. Key work: Microsoft Corporation Harold Geneen. As CEO of ITT, the former accountant grew the organization by one acquisition after another. From 1959 to 1977, ITT's sales went from $765 million to nearly $28 billion. Geneen (1910-1997) allowed for no frivolity and, even in his late eighties, worked a ten-hour day at a firm he bought into in 1992, upon his retirement from ITT. He combined hard work and an apparently slavish devotion to figures, understandable in a former accountant. After his departure, ITT rapidly disintegrated. To Geneen, the firm's fall in fortunes validated his philosophy. "After I left, the company veered on to a new course, emphasizing consolidation rather than growth?.Often, I have felt the stab of frustration and regret, wondering what might have been," he wrote. Key book: Managing Marshall Goldsmith. Dr. Goldsmith is considered the foremost expert in helping leaders make positive, measurable change in behavior: for themselves, their employees and their teams. He is one of the editors of AMACOM's book Partnering: The New Face of Leadership. In 2000, Forbes listed him as one of the five top executive coaches and Human Resources magazine ranked him as one of the world's leading HR consultants. Key book: The Leadership Investment Andrew S. Grove. Born in 1926 in Hungary, Grove came to the U.S. in 1957. In 1968, he founded Intel, with colleagues Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore. He became its COO in 1979 and CEO in 1987. In today's value-battled environment, Grove stands out for his action in 1994. Faced with a flaw in the company's flagship product, the Pentium processor, he made the tough decision to replace the chips, reinforcing Intel's quality reputation. Key work: Intel Arie De Geus. De Geus joined the Royal Dutch/Shell Group in 1951 and spent over 35 years with the firm, eventually becoming group planning coordinator. While there, he charted the regular and widespread demise of companies that were thought immortal, which in turn led to identification of what allows companies to reach a ripe old age. De Geus called these firms "living companies" and has observed that such firms are dedicated to long-term development. Their managements see themselves as "stewards" encouraging growth and renewal. The living company, says De Geus, survives because it learns, adapts and evolves?thus making De Geus a member of the school of management thought that talks about "learning organizations." Key book: The Living Organization . Gary Hamel. In the early 1990s, Hamel, with mentor C. K. Prahalad, challenged the thinking about the strategic planning process, when he said, "separating the sh__ from the shinola, the hype from the reality and the timeless from the transient." Born in 1954, Hamel and Prahalad argued that organizations shouldn't talk about strategy or planning but rather should talk of strategizing. They need to ask, "What are the fundamental preconditions for developing complex, variegated, robust strategies?" Key book: Competing for the Future Charles Handy. Handy introduced the concept of "discontinuity of change" in 1989 in his book The Age of Unreason, but his talk about change would never be more appropriate than today. After all, his age of unreason is "a time when what we used to take for granted may no longer hold true, a time when the only prediction that will hold true is that no predictions will hold." The organization of the future he advocates: a "federal organization that allows units and divisions individual independence while preserving corporate unity." Key book: The Age of Unreason Milton Snavely Hershey. This is the man who brought the world the Hershey Chocolate Bar. In 1893, Hershey (1857-1945) found the equipment he needed at the World's Fair in Chicago. He perfected a recipe for milk chocolate and mass produced the bars. He also came up with the idea for the famous Hershey Kiss. Indirectly, his firm built the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Any discussion of Hershey needs mention also of his enlightened management approach for the times. Concerned with the well being of his employees, he saw that the Hershey-town had the schools, parks and churches his employees needed. Key work: Hershey Frederick Herzberg. Born in the year AMA was founded, in 1923, Herzberg is one of those whose work underlies our thinking about what motivates employees. Herzberg separated motivational elements of work into two categories?those serving people's basic needs (hygiene factors) and those meeting our self-actualizing needs (motivation factors). Hygiene factors?also labeled maintenance factors?were determined from research to include supervision, interpersonal relations, working conditions, salary, corporate policies and procedures and job security. When these factors deteriorated to a level below that which employees considered acceptable, said Herzberg, then job dissatisfaction occurred. Hygiene alone was insufficient to motivate. Herzberg argued that true motivation came from achievement, personal development, job satisfaction and recognition. Key book: The Motivation to Work Geert Hofstede. If any one can be said to have invented the management subject cultural diversity, Geert Hofstede is believed to be the person. In his mind, culture is the crux of business. He defines it as "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another." Born in1928, the Dutch academic conducted considerable research to show that the way people think becomes crystallized in institutions and tangible products in the form of culture. Key book: Cultures and Organizations Lee Iacocca. Remember the turnaround of car giant Chrysler in the 1980s, and Iaccocca on TV as spokesperson for Chrysler? He was a corporate hero. Iacocca ran not one but two of the top three auto manufacturers during his career. He started out at Ford where he worked his way up through the ranks to become president. After an internal power struggle, Iacocca was fired in 1978. He joined Chrysler the next year as CEO. The company was running out of money and Iacocca turned around its financial situation by eliminating excess inventory, renegotiating contracts with car rental firms Hertz and Avis, and laying off employees. Finally, he went to the federal government for a loan of $1.2 billion. Operating with a tight budget (Iacocca cut his own annual salary to $1), Chrysler turned around its financial situation and in 1983 the company was able to pay off its debt. Subsequently, Iacocca grew Chrysler through acquisitions?including American Motors and Jeep. He retired in 1992. Key work: Chrysler Steve Jobs. If the New Economy has a folk hero, it is Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer. The company was started in a garage by Jobs and his co-founder Steve Wozniak?and its Apple PCs changed the face of computing. But Apple got its strategy wrong, tying the Mac operating system software to Apple hardware. Microsoft (see Bill Gates) got it right, licensing its operating system to any and every PC manufacturer. Removed by John Scully who was hired to turn the company around, Jobs eventually was asked to return. His subsequent success ensures his reputation as one of the great technology entrepreneurs. Key work: Apple Computer Joseph M. Juran. In Juran's viewpoint, W. Edwards Deming's approach to management was overly reliant on statistical analysis while his own approach is based on making quality the responsibility of everyone within the organization. Juran, born in 1904, first visited Japan in 1953. For two months, at the invitation of the Japanese Federation of Economic Associations and the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers, he studied Japanese practices. Based on his studies, he trained managers and engineers in what he called "managing for quality." For his work in Japan, Juran was awarded the Second Class Order of the Sacred Treasure by the Emperor of Japan?the highest honor for a non-Japanese citizen?for "the development of quality control in Japan and the facilitation of U.S. and Japanese friendship." Key book: Quality Control Handbook Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Partly responsible for the rise in interest?if not practice?of both change management and empowerment, Kanter is very much a part of the very strong American humanistic tradition. When it comes to the issue of innovation and creativity, Kanter?whose theories echo those of another female management theorist, Mary Parker Follett?attributes the stagnation at corporations to "suffocation of the entrepreneurial spirit in segmentalist companies." Key book: Change Masters Philip Kotler. Born in 1931, Kotler is known for the recognition of marketing as a central business function. He said, "Good companies will meet needs; great companies will create markets." Among his conceptual creations is "demarketing"?which is the idea that an element of marketing is to dissuade customers from desiring a particular product or service. In the 1970s, Kotler also originated "social marketing" or the use of marketing in the dissemination of socially useful ideas. But his most enduring contribution to management thinking is his advocacy that organizations shift from "transaction-oriented marketing" to "relationship marketing." "Good customers are an asset that, when well managed and served, will return a handsome lifetime income stream to the company." Key book: Marketing Management John P. Kotter. The Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School and a frequent speaker at top management meetings around the world, Kotter is the author of the book Leading Change. On the subject of leadership, Kotter says, "People say 'leadership' but describe 'management,' talk only of a commanding style, serve up speeches about how more than one leader creates chaos or talk in mystical terms. I have witnessed this cluttered thinking endless times in intelligent people. When capable individuals make such remarks, we have a clear indication of the need for a better understanding of what leaders really do." Key book: What Leaders Really Do Ray Kroc. If there is someone responsible for all the commercials we see on TV for burgers and fries and other fast food, it may be Ray Kroc, the former milk shake machine salesman, who turned a modest investment in a hamburger stand into a $500 million fortune. The public bought McDonald's burgers by the billions. By the time of Kroc's death in 1984, the firm's golden arches were a symbol around the world for convenient, consistent, inexpensive food. Key work: McDonald's Douglas McGregor. McGregor (1906-1964) is best known for his division of motivational theory into Theory X and Theory Y. These were the centerpiece of his 1960 classic, The Human Side of Enterprise. Theory X was traditional carrot-and-stick thinking whereas Theory Y was based on the principle that people want and need to work. He wrote, "The motivation, the potential for development, the capacity for assuming responsibility?are all present in people. Management does not put them there." Key book: The Human Side of Enterprise Abraham Maslow. The behavioral psychologist Maslow (1908-1970) was a member of the Human Relations School of the late 1950s. He is best known for his hierarchy of needs?a concept that was first published by him in 1943. In this, he argued that there was an ascending scale of needs that had to be understood if employees were to be motivated. After presenting his hierarchy of needs?shelter and food, safety needs, social needs and self-actualization, in that order?Maslow went on to further study self-actualization. He researched 48 people he considered to be self-actualized, including Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt. Maslow found that they shared some of 12 characteristics?they perceived reality accurately; accepted themselves, others and nature; lived spontaneous, simple and mature lives; were problem- centered; liked privacy and detachment; didn't take life for granted; had mystical or peak experiences; had a social interest; had profound interpersonal relationships; had little racial, religious or social prejudice; were creative; and were resistant to having ideas or cultures thrust upon them. Maslow's work can be regarded as utopian but it was a powerful argument for participative management in later years. Key book: Motivation and Personality Kenosuke Matsushita. This Japanese industrialist (1894-1989) emphasized efficient production and quality products. Entrepreneurial in spirit, he took risks and backed his beliefs at every stage. An example of this is the development of the video cassette. He developed VHS video and licensed the technology. Competitive firm Sony also developed a video system but failed to license the technology. The world standard is VHS and the other firm is consigned to history. Matsushita's basic management objective, coined in 1929, said, "Recognizing our responsibilities as industries, we will devote ourselves to the progress and development of society and the well-being of people through our business activities, thereby enhancing the quality of life throughout the world." Key book: Not for Bread Alone Elton Mayo. The Australian researcher (1880-1949) is best known for his contribution to the Hawthorne experiments in motivation. The studies offered important insights?for example, changes in working conditions led to increased output, even if the changes weren't obviously for the betterment of working conditions. Mayo's work redressed the bias in management thinking, offering an alternative to the scientific management thinking of Frederick Taylor. Key book: The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization Henry Mintzberg. Born in 1939, Mintzberg believes that management should be less driven by discipline and rather should be organized around five mindsets: the reflective mindset, the analytic mindset, the worldly mindset, the collaborative mindset and the catalytic mindset. From this thinking, Mintzberg divides a manager's work roles into interpersonal (including leader and liaison), informational (disseminator of information, spokesman and monitor of information flow) and decisional (including entrepreneur and negotiator). Key book: The Nature of Managerial Work Kenichi Ohmae. This Japanese consultant and author (born 1943) published a book in the United States the same year as Peters/Waterman's book In Search of Excellence, although it had been published in Japan seven years before. In it, he exploded some Western myths about Japanese management. For instance, the Japanese art of strategic thinking, he admitted, is "basically creative and intuitive and rational." He also revealed that the customer was at the heart of the Japanese approach to strategy and key to corporate values. In more recent work, he has included globalization in the equation: "The essence of business strategy is offering better value to customers than the competition, in the most cost-effective and sustainable way. But today, thousands of competitors from every corner of the world are able to serve customers well." So, he concludes, leaders have to understand events in the rest of the world and respond accordingly. Key book: The Mind of the Strategist Laurence J. Peter. This is the Canadian author and educator behind the Peter Principle. Like Scott Adam's Dilbert, Peter's alphorisms are grounded in corporate reality. For instance: "An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen" and "Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it." Best of all: "In an organization, each person rises to the level of his own incompetency." Key book: The Peter Principle Tom Peters. In Search of Excellence, the book by Thomas J. Peters (1942) and co-author Robert H. Waterman, marked a watershed in business book publishing. For a decade, the business book publishing industry benefited from the title that offered American businesses an answer to Japanese manufacturing and marketing successes. Each subsequent book by Peters reflects his latest thinking, sometimes recounting contents of his earlier books, although there are constants, like his emphasis on customer satisfaction and creativity. His earlier works focused on the large manufacturers, but his newer thinking heralds freewheeling project-based, hierarchy-free teams in constant communication. Key book: Thriving on Chaos Michael Porter. Porter's genius lies in producing brilliantly researched models of competitiveness at a corporate, industry-wide and national level (he has served on the executive committee of the Council on Competitiveness, a private sector group of business, labor and academic leaders formed in 1986). Most recently, Porter has written about how the intensity of domestic competition stimulates national success on a global stage. Key book: Competitive Advantage C. K. Prahalad. His contributions to strategic thinking have been widely acknowledged. In September 1993, The Wall Street Journal's Special Report on Management Education named him one of the top ten teachers in the world. Business Week called him one of the most influential thinkers on corporate strategy today. Prahalad's work is concerned with the ability of large organizations to maintain competitive vitality when faced with international competition and changing business environments. Key book: Competing for the Future (with Gary Hamel) Reg Revans. Born in 1907 in England, Revans has been involved in education throughout his life, yet he has been highly critical of the value of traditional "chalk and talk" learning. He has argued that people learn most effectively not from books or lectures but from sharing real problems with others. Consequently, his "action learning" concept requires solutions to be implemented, not just recommended. Key book: Action Learning: New Techniques for Management Peter Senge. Born in 1947, this academic coined the term "learning organizations." The concept grew from research carried out by Senge and his team at the Center for Organizational Learning. In practice, it promotes an organization in which managers encourage employees to be open themselves to new ideas, communicate frankly, understand how their firms operate, share a common vision and work together to achieve that mission. Key book: The Fifth Discipline Adrian Slywotzky. Considered "one of today's hottest strategists," Slywotzky is like the young boy in the story of the emperor's new clothes, pointing to the issues that others are ignoring. He has worked extensively at the CEO level for several major corporations on issues relating to new business development and value growth. His focus has been on developing customer-based strategic perspectives and effective new business designs. He is a vice president and member of the board of directors of Mercer Management Consulting. Key book: How to Grow When Markets Don't Samuel Walton. Walton was already operating some high-priced, small-town variety stores when he opened his first Wal-Mart store in 1962. That same year, K Mart, Woolco and Target chains were launched. Discounting had hit America in a big way, and Walton hit the road to open stores wherever he saw an opportunity. He would buzz towns in his low-flying airplane studying the lay of the land. When he had triangulated the proper intersection between a few small towns, he would touch down, buy a piece of farmland at that intersection and build another Wal-Mart store. As his chain grew, he realized that he needed just-in-time inventory controls and went about hiring experts who could provide computerized merchandise controls. Today, Wal-Mart's computer database is said to be second only to the Pentagon's in capacity. Key work: Wal-Mart Thomas Watson, Jr. As head of IBM, Watson (1914-1993) played a significant role in shaping today's IBM?not so much technologically as culturally. Watson said that a culture could only be sustained by "a sound set of beliefs, on which it premises all its policies and actions." As CEO, he established many of those. And, as Watson observed, beliefs rarely change. Key book: A Business and Its Beliefs Jack Welch. Born in 1935, Welch reigned as head of General Electric for 20 years?from 1981 to 2001. Named in 1999 as Fortune's "Manager of the Century," Welch started at GE as a trainee in 1960. At the age of 33, he was the youngest general manager in the company's history. Under his leadership, GE's profits increased 600 percent. Over 100 consecutive quarters, the company showed increased earnings. Key work: General Electric.

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