Competitive advantage in the 20th century was created by making quality products and services faster, cheaper, and moving them quickly around a town, state or nation. Business organizations in the 21st century must continue to produce goods and services faster and cheaper than its competitors; however, unlike the 20th century, competitive advantage is gained only when a business can customize the goods and/or services to meet customer demands and have them delivered around the world. Ironically, while the pace of doing business has magnified thousands of times, employees desire more than ever to slow down and balance work with family. People who successfully manage this 21st century paradigm must comprehend all facets of the organization and how they compose the company’s competitive advantage. Manager’s in particular have to find ways to secure competitive advantage via innovation of the process of planning, organizing, staffing, directing, and controlling the organization’s rules, procedures, processes and people who execute them.
As seen in week one organizational theory has evolved to embrace a human centric framework. This week theme one seeks to explain how 21st century businesses’ must blend 20th and 21st century management theory and application to create a competitive edge. In theme two the material for the week begins to explain that the foundation of most existing managerial practices stems from Fayol’s four functions of management. It is upon Fayol’s foundation that manager’s will have to build their practices for a new agile organization structure. In the coming weeks, students will examine the four functions so that they can understand the common practice upon which new ideas of management are built.
Theme 1: Helping a business to create a competitive edge among competitors is a crucial job of the manager.
Theme 2: The Functions of Management and the New Organization
The role of the manager in a business organization has been defined as a person who can implement the vision, purpose and mission of the business by creating processes, procedures, and short/long term goals that put the organization on a competitive path. The manager does this through the implementation of the four primary functions or pillars of management – planning, organizing, leading/directing, and controlling. Henri Fayol’s functions of management mentioned in our organizational theory timeline has created a foundation for the modern management role and are very much alive in running businesses today (it should be noted that it is currently five not four [to include staffing] management pillars). The challenge for the manager in the 21st century is to merge the traditional functions of a manager to include a greater role in developing long term goals and leading people while still maintaining the traditional functions of management. This week’s themes explore the definition of the four functions of management and how they form the foundation of the manager’s job.