Most of you are familiar, I imagine, with the 14 Principles that my old colleague at the University of Michigan Prof. Jeff Liker describes in his landmark book The Toyota Way. And, I imagine most of you also know Dr. Deming’s 14 Principles of Quality Management from the 1980s (perhaps one of you Deming experts can clarify whether it was actually the 80s when he came out with them. Also, did he actually call them “principles”?). Since I spent some time discussing with Jeff as he was writing the Toyota Way, I think I can say that the similarity -- the number 14 -- was coincidental (Jeff, if you are there, please feel free to verify or correct!). But, I bet most of you do NOT know the original set of 14 management principles.
Henri Fayol laid down the first theory of general management and statement of management principles about 100 years ago. A French engineer, industry executive (in mining, where he was a successful turnaround executive), and management theorist in the 1800s, he wrote A Theory of Administration (I am told that would be “Administration Industrielle et Generale" in French) in 1916. For you Frederick Taylor fans, that would be five years after The Principles of Scientific Management.
I don’t read French and have never found a good English translation, but as I have pieced it together you can compare Fayol and Taylor like this: Taylor took a frontline engineering approach, examining work methods and efficiency, while Fayol took a top-down business administration approach, examining management, and organization. They both embraced functional specialization and a reductionist approach to understanding how organizations do and should operate.
Fayol discussed five functions of management, not dissimilar to other views (Drucker for example) of the tasks of managers:
- Coordinating activities
- Controlling performance
But, what has long fascinated me about Fayol is his list of 14 principles. Aside from the funny fact that his principles total exactly 14 - same as both Deming and Liker - what is significant about Fayol’s early articulation of management principles is the basic thinking they represent. These 14 principles of management of Henri Fayol comprise a comprehensive framework of general organizational management:
- Specialization or division of labor
- Authority with responsibility
- Unity of command
- Unity of direction
- Subordination of individual interests
- Clear line of authority
- Lifetime employment
- Esprit de corps
Note in particular, Fayol’s number two -- authority with responsibility-- an important topic dealt with in Managing to Learn. The basic assumption that authority should equal responsibility is the root of much organizational evil, a topic I will return to again. In the meantime, you can check out the relevant sidebar that appears on page 81 of MTL here.
These 14 principles of management of Henri Fayol comprise a comprehensive framework of general organizational management. Even though you never heard of them until today, they have been infecting the way you’ve thought about organizations your whole work life.
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