Tag Archives: peacetime

Management Philosophy

A couple pieces on business management (via HN).

Matthew Stewart, founder of a consulting firm that eventually grew to 600 employees, cuts to the heart of management theory:

Between them, Taylor and Mayo carved up the world of management theory. According to my scientific sampling, you can save yourself from reading about 99 percent of all the management literature once you master this dialectic between rationalists and humanists. The Taylorite rationalist says: Be efficient! The Mayo-ist humanist replies: Hey, these are people we’re talking about!

For any given management theory, the support is from numbers (where Stewart mentions, “[pacifying] recalcitrant data with entirely confected numbers“) or emotions (where Stewart says, “And who would want to take a stand against creativity, freedom, empowerment, and—yes, let’s call it by its name—love?“).

Ben Horowitz, CEO of Opsware (acquired by HP in 2007), describes the difference between peace and wartime CEOs:

Peacetime in business means those times when a company has a large advantage vs. the competition in its core market, and its market is growing. In times of peace, the company can focus on expanding the market and reinforcing the company’s strengths.

In wartime, a company is fending off an imminent existential threat. Such a threat can come from a wide range of sources including competition, dramatic macro economic change, market change, supply chain change, and so forth.

The piece goes over the top in describing the difference in thinking of peace VS war CEOs. That said, it does a great job of explaining that different CEO roles are needed when a company is looking for the right product/market fit (aka a viable business plan) VS growing their market share.