Management: a simple how-to guide

Businessman Drawing Goal WordAchieving objectives is at the core of management. What should be done to get the desired results has been synthesised and abstracted in numerous theories.

One of the most prominent theories was offered by Henry Fayol, who said that management consisted of the following six functions: forecasting, planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling.

While people who have studied business administration are all familiar with this list, it is also interesting to see what we can find in a business dictionary. One definition states that management is about creating corporate policy, organizing, planning, controlling, and directing an organization’s resources.

Both lists of functions provide us a good guideline of what is needed to attain successful management. Unfortunately, they are both theory oriented and hard to remember and apply. Allow me, therefore, to provide a simple description of how to manage, either your business, your career or your own life.

By taking into account both theoretical and practical considerations, I have simplified management functions into the following sketch.

Management How-to

To manage properly, we should go through this cycle of analyzing, planning, executing and evaluating.

Step 1

Before beginning to plan anything, it is essential to analyze what the current situation is. Analyzing is one of the most key functions in the management process. Without the proper analysis, we would plan erroneously. Just as in a construction, we need to build solid foundations or the structure will be unstable. Management consultants like McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and Bain help with this analysis step that is essential for all types of corporate decisions.

When I worked at CMC Consulting Group, a large part of my work was to analyze: market, competition, conflicts of interest among shareholders, financial performance, synergy effects, etc. Analyzing allows us to understand the current status and it is only after analyzing that we should proceed to the next step. Allianz Global Investors has highlighted the importance of this step by incorporating it into their corporate philosophy: Understand, act.

Step 2

This step is the one most people have probably heard about. We all know that if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. I do no need to emphasize this step. What I have to say, however, is that we need to plan in advance. The trick is precisely in knowing how much in advance we should plan.

For example, if you want to increase sales next year, you have to start planning the resources now, because a sales cycle can take up more than 6 months. If you want a comfortable life abroad, you should prepare at least half a year in advance (language, VISA procedures if required, accommodation, etc).

Step 3

After having devised a plan, we need to execute it. This third step is the step that will materialise our dreams. However, we cannot reach 3 without 1 and 2. We need to analyze and plan before executing. On the other side, if analysis and planning are ready, there is no reason to delay execution. Executing quickly can gain you advantage over the competition, especially when you execute quicker than the competitor consistently over time. In addition, if execution were delayed, circumstances could change, and the plan designed at step 2 might no longer be useful.

The former CEO of CMC Consulting, Claus Michelfelder, was very surprised at how quickly I delivered results, to the point that he said I was the quickest employee he has ever hired. My performance might have surprised him, but I understood the importance of quick execution.

Step 4

We need to evaluate while we are executing. This aspect is, however, not well-understood. We cannot wait until the end of execution to evaluate the action; unless of course the execution were only a simple task. In most cases however, we are talking about executing over a longer period of time. It then becomes important to evaluate continuously over the process. Continuous evaluation gives us the chance to improve on the way and accelerates our learning curve. This crucial step was also highlighted by leaders at DLD some time ago. These leaders continuously check, several among them daily, whether they are satisfied with their work.

When I was in the university and was given an assignment, I would check regularly with my professors to receive intermediate feedback and improve the work during the process. If I had waited until the deadline for evaluation, I would not have had the chances to correct and adjust my work.

In real life, these 4 steps are intertwined. However, I split them here for explanation purposes. I hope this description and the examples I used give you some inspiration about how to apply management in your own business, career and life.

In essence

To manage in the right way is to analyze thoroughly, plan early, execute quickly and evaluate continuously. (Tweet this quote!)

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