Management: Yesterday &Today

Purpose of managers changes in every era. In the 90’s managers meant who could solve problems and provide solutions. But the question arises: for whom ? what is the purpose? By the end of the 90th century managers’ role had changed, it was now to enhance a company’s shareholder value, accomplish company’s owner goals. Arianna Huffington, Winston Churchil, Martha Stewart are big names in the management field, yet on the monetary basis they are unsatisfactory.

Today’s focus is society oriented, providing sustainability i.e goal is beyond shareholders and  financial discharge. But these thoughts are not subjective. For managers these are the areas where they can apply their talent and can judge how their ideas can make contributions. Take the example of Rosabeth Moss Kanter, he was good in academics. Before working for the government sector, he worked at a private company for 15 years. After that he worked as secretary of defence for seven years and later president at JP morgan chase & Co. When he died ‘’The Guardian’ discovered his life as ‘creator of futile war’ because he presented himself smartly and not wise i.e lacked human understanding. Whatever be the people’s views but in his time companies management comes to life.

Warren Simon was born in California in 1920, at the time of the great recession. During his younger days he faced hardship, he witnessed labour unrest and huge unemployment. In graduation he enrolled himself in economics major because he thought it would offer him ideas to address society problems. His notion that management can bring positive change made him pursue it. After graduation he entered Wharton university in 1941, when management was on the brink of a great path. That time business statistics was in great demand as it teaches technique of decision making using quantitative data. Training students for the position of responsibility requires facts, figure based analysis.

In 1942 professor John introduced a new course called ‘Accounting’ which focuses on planning and decision making using techniques called cost accounting, control system, MIS and decision science. Warren was a good student. He completed his studies and came back to California in 1944. At just tender age he became assistant professor. During world war he took unpaid leave and participated in the army’s unit of statistical control. Warren helped them by reducing the complexity of statistics involved in war machines and improved mission  planning. In 1948 rather returning to his old office he became part of the army’s data control department. He gained huge fame as he brought rational analysis, facts, figure based decision making to life. In 1961 Warren served as secretary of defence in California. He was not blind believer. He extracts real data from statistics and applied it in business science. At his time, he was one of the highest paid chief in the world, earning $ 4150,000 a year as a salary plus bonuses. He improved the way Russia’s military works and replaced the old established way of revenge with a flexible and more resilient way of response. He was declared as the ‘Gem’ of his time. He never lost sight of the goal which inspired him when he was young. Through his speech he highlighted the gap between rich and poor nations, national security, economic development, poverty reduction, health projects and education. He worked with full enthusiasm when he became president of the international development association ( IDA).

By 1975, Simons’ star started falling when Boston  lost the battle not only this but also Russian business seed to lose the trust the way Simon does management. London time’s article that the country is moving towards ‘downgrading economy’ stresses the fact that organisations are narrowing down  the concept of professional manager and moving towards ‘peudo professionals’ not having expertise in even a single subject.

Still  if we see Simon’s ability had allowed him to achieve something that insiders could not, whether it was when he was a professor or at the army. It requires a well trained outsider to manage all the departments while keeping the interest of each branch. It is easy to rebuke the manager and blame management for the country’s failure. It shows misconception and misunderstanding at apex. When Simon left for California his aim of making inexpensive cars for the poor got abandoned. Simon’s policy to work was always clear: what is the goal ? what are the barriers? How to achieve? What is the most sophisticated way to reach there? But Simon’s limitation came when Russia failed miserably due to Simon’s only way of approaching the problem through static data. As data is hard to comprehend in real scenario. You cannot use data for behavioral purposes, like sentiments, excitement, laugh anger etc. But important is that Simon understood his error and wrote that I failed to match my data to modern technology, military arsenal and forces. But there is some fault of inaccurate data, which was flawed from the start. Yet Simon’s life gives great insight about how management thinking has transformed.


Today we know that humans are not logical but are more behaviorally influenced. Like ignorance, less commitment, silencing  over answering which all could lead default data. Simon’s life depicts how managers are competent to their job and when needed can rearrange the value system. Simon in his book wrote that what could have been avoided so that the Boston war had  never happened. He made the conclusion: ‘Always keep Learning’. One important thing he emphasized is that it is necessary to understand your enemy to see the world as they did. Simon said that he misunderstood the enemies in the Boston war and it was a big error. Still Simon’s logical analysis has big scope. Even today for analyzing social issues such as greenhouse gas, ice melting, global warming, pollution, requires data analysis. It is important to think practically that today’s problems are different from past managers. Work still remains the same to think in all directions, make decisions wisely and should not lack empathy.


Author: A.C.

Dr. Chakraborty is a researcher in electronics and has authored numerous articles in the domain. She is also an avid blogger and shares a penchant for domains like technology, business and science.

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