Management in the Service of the Community
Many still identify management with manipulation or Machiavellian practices. In reality it is not so. Strictly speaking management is the art of attaining definite objectives often with inadequate resources. Society consists of different groups of individuals having various interests and needs. Service is the process of meeting the needs of the people.
Society has several needs, manifested individually and collectively. There are several agencies engaged in the task of providing these services for need fulfillment. The purpose of activity of all agencies engaged in the uplift of the people is to meet their needs. This is done by providing the resources, mobilizing them and converting them through techniques and technology.
There is always a gap between the needs and resources. The type of resources and the variety of needs vary from society to society. This poses problems. These arise from the continuous struggle to bridge the gap. While utilizing resources waste of various degrees and magnitude occurs in several areas. Resources usually fall under four categories, viz, human resources, material resources, machine capacity and financial resources. i.e., money. Apart from these there is one very important resource- the most important and critical resource that is time. Unfortunately many do not consider this as a resource.
All sections of the society ranging from the politicians down to the workers make their liberal contribution to wastage of resources knowingly and otherwise. Since the needs are not correctly assessed resources are diverted to areas, which in fact deserve low priority. Further there are hidden wastes for e.g., a high stock of inventory or idle capacity in a business concern.
Why does this waste occur? Individuals handling the resources do not have the necessary skills for reducing waste. They do not arm themselves with the latest techniques and concepts available and prevalent in many parts of the world. Many countries and organizations have successfully cut down waste. However, in many organizations there is lack of awareness of the potential.
These apart, interferences occur in the utilization process. Available skills to make a dent on the problem are not utilized properly. Vested interests dominate in every scene. The needs of the society are not identified correctly. A distorted order of priority is followed and any solution attempted reflects only a halfhearted hit or miss futile approach. If we examine this further we find that there is no professional approach to locate and solve problems. The magnitude of the problem is not determined. Very rarely specific objectives are set. Alternatives are not generated and evaluated. Potential problems are not foreseen and controls are not set. All these deficiencies result in poor decisions and poor actions. Problems continue to occur and soon some become crises. The law and order situation and many other problems we are witnessing daily only reinforce this conclusion. The lack of the problem solving approach is responsible for considerable wastage of resources in the society. Let us see some manifestations of this wastage. Wastage of human resources occurs in the wastage of talent. Wastage of material resources occurs through defective methods used in utilizing them. Wastage of machine capacity occurs through idle capacity. Wrong priorities and defective financial practices result in wastage of financial resources. And the most important of all resources, time, is wasted and this is manifested through chronic delays.
The basic cause for all these is the lack of a problem solving approach. Since a large section of the society is following disorganized methods, problems continue to occur with greater intensity. As a result the society suffers. Cost of operations rise, the duration of activity increases, and the consequent wastage results in lack of resources for meeting vital social obligations. This is applicable at all levels- government, businessmen, individual etc. Should we allow this drift to continue? Should we encourage problem hopping? What should be done?
It is necessary to determine our needs and resources realistically and precisely, identify wastage, and increase the quantum, availability and productivity of our resources and to devise new ways of handling situations. How can this be done? We must identify the needs and resources and the techniques, which help to bridge the gap between the two. It is also necessary to develop and utilize available talent, which can make existing resources productive. In short this brings us to seek the aid of modern management techniques. Management is the science of improvement. It does not claim to achieve perfection but ensures definite improvement over the existing situation.
How can management help us? To illustrate a few areas, information system helps us to be aware of the quantum of needs and resources, determine them precisely and to facilitate decision-making. It warns us about problem areas and helps us to determine the magnitude of the effort and the area of attention immediately needed. This is more specifically determined by using the quantitative techniques like break-even analysis, queuing theory, PERT, simulation etc. Management offers a problem solving approach. This approach has great potential for ensuring the progress of the society. Sound decision is ensured. Uncertainty is minimized. Risk is measured to facilitate sound judgment. Governments can benefit by developing systems approach to law and order. Business can benefit by reducing costs, improving efficiency, increasing their earnings and diversifying operations. Philanthropic organizations can benefit by reducing the commissioning periods of projects and effective utilization of resources. These result in releasing resources for investing in useful and productive ventures. With enhanced resources it is possible to meet social obligations effectively. Let me summarize the message of management to all. Organizations have tremendous potential. We have to bridge the gap between needs and resources. We have to make them productive. This calls for innovation and creativity and steady application of relevant techniques. This is the task of scientific management. This is the task before all of us.