Management Defined

Management is ….

If you have ever reported to a Manager, your finishing thought for the statement above is likely correct, or at least partially correct. A number of “experts” including the one name that every business student knows, Peter Drucker, have defined management. Fortunately, they are all right, for the most part. Unfortunately, if everyone is right, then everyone is also wrong, at least somewhat wrong. The experts are right and wrong because Management is … more than one thing at one time and therefore extends beyond the bounds of any one definition.

Management is an Art and a Science. Management is here and now as well as the future. Management is people, places, and products (outcomes). Management is time, money, and returns. Management is defining, applying, and achieving, Management is a beginning, a path, and a destination. Management is the thing that all parties affected by Management at any moment in time think it is. Therefore, Management is many things to many people.

To understand Management, note that the word “define” is not used, find the qualities that all parties affected by Management can agree on. This exercise suggests that any understanding of Management will change based on the input of those affected, which is true, but makes understanding Management a never-ending task. To provide an end and achieve consensus, consider Management as a painting. Everyone viewing a painting may see the image differently, focus on particular parts of the image, note the technical detail, examine the materials used, and even declare the thing is upside down. However, the viewers, all the parties affected, will agree that the painting is indeed a painting. Framing Management so that all parties can agree provides a sufficient ending to the statement Management is…

Drawing from the collection of Management statements above, an agreeable understanding of Management might include art and science, a time component (now and future), resources (people, places), goals (defining, achieving), and movement or change (beginning, destination). A logical order to this understanding might read; Management is the art and science of connecting resources and goals through time to create change.

This open Management frame provides sufficient boundaries while leaving room for interpretation and varied applications. Perhaps more importantly this frame does not make Management the focus, rather, what Management does remains the focus. This matters because any valid Management definition, understanding, or frame makes Management transparent to demonstrate that Management is… many things; however, Management is never an end.


©2014 Margins and Corners