What Is Management?


​First management is not a “business term”. Management is just a generic human activity, mainly:

Management is any activity that creates empowerment

But what is empowerment?

Empowerment is the complex result of of ability, motivation, drive and action. Only when all four components are active, does empowerment start.

There are four basic tenants of empowerment:

  • it must cause action. Without action we have no empowerment, ability, motivation and drive alone only make demagogy.
  • it fails if it does not give ability. Without ability you are not empowered but merely enthusiastic. Curb it and save the energy.
  • it needs to inspire motivation. Without motivation you are given a job, not empowerment. This usually results in stagnation.
  • it has to build drive. Without drive you are simply educated, not empowered. That is because missing drive means missing meaning. Try and say that fast.

By effect, management as an activity should result in ability, motivation, drive and action. But it is only management if the four results are intertwined by a common goal. Otherwise it is activism, not management.

Management types

Management creates three forms of empowerment:

  1. leadership
  2. vision
  3. expertise

In general you can only have two concurrent types of empowerment, not all three. The two factors that cause this “two out of three” situation are common to any human activity. They are: limited time and scarce opportunity.

Leadership and expertise give the expert leader.

The expert leader is a manager that brings motivation among the people. They will create boosts of progress in whatever they’re doing management for.

You do not want the leading expert as a manager. They are too narrow. They make the perfect academics but fail to empower because they miss drive. Drive feels immediate, has some urgency to it while leading experts appear to have all the time in the world. Life is short.

Vision and leadership give the visionary leader.

The visionary leader creates drive and ability. A visionary leader identifies needs correctly. There is no better fuel for drive than need. A visionary leader creates ability mainly by untangling “red tape” in all its shapes and forms.

You do not need a leading visionary as a manager. Too wide views. They are perfect theoreticians but fail to empower motivation. Motivation needs short term results to be born.

Vision and expertise give the visionary expert

A visionary expert excels at action. They understand the “what” better than anyone, but also have key insights on “how”.

Oh, and not an expert visionary, never. You know this one … “expert visionary”. I can’t even. Whatever.

Management and business

In business, leadership empowers people, vision empowers the organization, expertise empowers the product.

Management is what makes businesses more or less successful, responsible and sustainable. Empowerment is not positive by default. Thus management results go either way, for better or for worse.

In business mission is defined by founders or boards. Management delivers the vision. The reason is because the mission is the why, while the vision is the how. Management also delivers the what, aka the product. So mismanagement can make a business very successful (profitable and / or growing) but not responsible, or sustainable. What a business does and how a business does it are the tweaking buttons of success, responsibility and sustainability. Management, from CEO to team lead, has them all.

In business all three types of management work. Most likely visionary leaders will find their way to the top. Middle management gets populated with visionary experts. Lower management has all the expert leaders it can get. That is “most likely”. Reality is much more complex because management structure depends on the mission, created by founders and boards.

Management and politics

In politics leadership empowers people, vision empowers the society and expertise empowers the government.

As a corollary to management creating empowerment: governments should not have the management of corporations.

Governments and corporations have two very different “raison d’etre” and this causes profound differences in the kind of abilities, motivations, drives and actions their empowerment results in. A corporation is a joined human activity with an economic purpose. A government is a a joined human activity with a social purpose. Society and economics only coexist because we collectively consider that progress is a form of greater good. If suddenly we’d globally change our minds and progress becomes just a side effect of existence, then economics becomes far less relevant.

Parties should put out for election good managers.

Management should be the key activity from president to any elected representative. Management should be the key activity from prime minister to any named official. The empowering that results is the reason these structures exist in the first place.

In politics visionary experts should be seconded by visionary leaders. In practice it is usually the other way around, because the government is by the people. The people propel leaders not experts, and usually this is what makes governments fail in being for the people. We should have government by society and for the people. But, alas, this just sounds too complicated.

Management and life

In life leadership empowers joy, vision empowers happiness and expertise empowers pleasure.

For stupid reasons we stay away from doing management for our life, yet we should! In doing so, we create concerted ability, motivation, drive and action in ourselves and in the people around us. That is what no man is an island is for!

The thing with life is that only you should be the manager. You should not pick anyone else to do management for your life. You could of course, but that will most likely lower the joy, rarefy happiness and dim pleasure. Not to mention alienating your experience from yourself. As a recursive being only you can really know thyself and hence do management for yourself properly.

In life one could benefit from expert leaders. Outsourcing vision in life will never come close to empowering your happiness. Visionary leaders and visionary experts are not welcome here.

Mismanagement

You cannot “be managing” anything. You can only “do management for” something. The moment you entitle as manager of anything you loose sight of the fact that you are doing an activity only about the others. A good manager doesn’t entitle and keeps it at doing management for something. In doing so they’re constantly aware of having an effect outside of themselves.

To manage should not equal to handle. Handling it involves the self as the primary goal. Handling is a form of survival and is always short term and short sighted. For example, the notion of managing a crisis is different from handling a crisis. Handling a crisis is simply overcoming it. It distributes human effort to bring the situation to normal. Managing a crisis creates a distributed human framework. This framework will dissemble the root cause of the crisis and avoid it in the future.

Oh, one more thing. Empowerment is not a default positive thing. You can create empowerment for all kinds of morally, ethically and humanly questionable or condemned things. Management is not good unless we make it so. Management is not bad unless we make it so.