The concept of Philosophy is about determining exactly what the company values - what it pursues and endeavours to attain. At a corporate level this is likely to be described in terms of business and performance targets. In some cases these will be financial, in others they may concern market strength or output.
At a departmental level these may be interpreted in terms of other, more specific targets, such as delivery performance, efficiency, or customer satisfaction. At an individual level these may break down further into competence and behavioural targets.
A well executed Philosophy exists where the targets at teach level are clear and unambiguous, where they efficiently link from level to level, and perhaps most important of all, where they live in the hearts and ambitions of the company's people.

Establish a common value set, and build real commitment
to clear targets for the improvement of all aspects of the
company's performance.

Most businesses are now very familiar with setting objectives and business targets, and at the top level of the company they are well understood and fairly clear cut.
Unfortunately, as they translate down through the organisation they become increasing complex and conflictual. Personal aspirations and single mindedness lead to sub-optimisation and failure - in short the behaviours do not combine to reach the goals - what benefits a decision-maker does not necessarily benefit the business and vice versa.
Peter Scott-Morgan called this “The Unwritten Rules of the Game”, and it was well explored in a paper by Nadler and Lawler which concluded “Organisations get the behaviours they reward which are rarely those they desire”.
What actual behaviours do you reward? Do you know?
Plainly, breaking down objectives into sub-objectives and expecting them to build back up is not enough, and effective management processes have to develop a more comprehensive picture of what they value (standards and behaviours), why and how.
Many companies are discovering the hard way that it's not enough to say what is expected - people often can't hear it over the cacophony of body language and hidden agendas. But for efficiency it must be clear and uniform - the wasted effort from silo mentality is increasingly clear.
Management is, above all else, the development and harnessing of behaviours to achieve standards. An effective management process is one in which managers understand how and why it rewards certain behaviours, and works to consciously adjust the company environment so that it promotes the standards and behaviours that it needs. It does not see setting standards as simply establishing objectives and rules, but sees instead a complex interaction of management and peer responses which need to be developed through careful and pragmatic experimentation. One way to begin this is to ask at a junior level of the company “What behaviours are likely to get you promoted here? And what aren’t” Honest perceptions will be of value to you in understanding your company philosophy, as will be the events that shaped those perceptions. Try it with someone you trust but don't challenge their answers - even challenges are a factor in the value set of the company!

To understand more about 'Philosophy':
 Exploration provides an understanding of the principles that underpin this aspect of the management process
 Evaluation provides a simple scale by which you might reflect on your own organisation's progress in this area
 Tools provides a brief overview of some of the approaches that are available to support further development

Move on to 'People'; Return to 'Systematic Management'


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