Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Management Information

Dear Colleagues

Management information is central to good management. Accounting information is central to management information. This is not talked about very much any more because accounting is fully integrated into most corporate management information systems, but it was very much a subject of debate in the 1960s when the first wave of corporate computerization was being undertaken.

I have defined management information in the following manner:
"Management information is the least amount of information that reliably ensures that the best decisions are being made"
In the corporate world management information is of this type ... but in the world of academia and in the international relief and development community, information of this type is almost totally absent.

This explains to some degree why it is that the international relief and development sector has been responsible for so little success. The management information available did not ensure good decisions were being made ... and worse, the accounting information itself was very weak.

Tr-Ac-Net is of the view that a universal system of management information that provides accountability to the public for use of resources and the impact on the community is needed ... and is developing a prototype to demonstrate what such a system can do.

With good information ... and good decisions ... the potential for an improvement in the global quality of life is huge. But good information is not yet being embraced by the well known major established organizations. The reason for this is unclear.

Good management information leads to good management, and then to good results.


Peter Burgess

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Management is One of America's Great Strengths

Dear Colleagues

Management is one of America's great strengths. Americans have been decades ahead of the rest of the world in management creativity, and this has helped to build the American economy and its wealth.

The story of the industrial era in the United States was only possible because some of the great industrial entrepreneurs were also great managers.

I did not understand this until I observed the difference in productivity between the integrated iron and steel mills in the USA and in the UK and Europe. American managers were pushing the technology to the limit in cooperation with the steelworkers ... and steelworkers were being paid much more than in the UK and Europe, yet US manufactured product was costing less ... significantly less.

Famously ... the building of the Esso oil refinery in Fawley in the UK went smoothly with hardly any labor stoppages. This was at a time when labor unrest was rampant in the UK ... and explained by the willingness of American managers to become involved with the work and figure out how to solve problems. As Vic Feather is reported to have said "The American managers put gumboots on ... and got shoulder under ..." while the UK manager at the time would merely have "written a memo criticizing the workers!"

Great managers have continued to be important for the US as great science has been applied in all sorts of technological development ...

But sadly great managers have not been as visible in defending the commons of society as a whole ... not in the US, and not around the world.

It is to be hoped that management, American style, can be deployed in the future to get efficiency and effectiveness in all the areas where society needs initiative, and not only in profit maximizing situations.


Peter Burgess