Biography[ edit ] Malik studied economics, social sciences, logic and philosophy of science at the universities of Innsbruck and St. He earned his doctoral degree in at the University of St. Gallen, where he habilitated in for managerial economics. From to , he was associate professor for managerial economics at the University of St.
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Fredmund Malik is a university-level professor of corporate management, an internationally renowned management expert and the chairman of Malik Management, the leading knowledge organization for wholistic cybernetic management systems, based in St.
Gallen, Switzerland. With approximately employees, a number of international branch offices and partner networks for cybernetics and bionics, Malik Management is the largest knowledge organization, offering truly effective solutions for all types of organizations and their complex management issues.
Thousands of executives are trained and advised about wholistic general management systems. Fredmund Malik is the awardwinning and best-selling author of more than ten books, including the classic Managing Performing Living. He is also a regular columnist for opinion-leading newspapers and magazines and one of the most prominent thought leaders in the management arena. Copyright notice All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner. They are a guide for carrying out management tasks and the application of management tools.
They form the core of management effectiveness. I suggest that they also be considered as the essential part of every practical corporate culture. I think these values can be most usefully and clearly expressed in the form of principles. Before I explain the principles individually, a few preliminary notes are necessary to prevent misconceptions.
Simple but not Easy The pattern of behavior, which I will explain in the form of principles, is not easy to recognize unless we have learnt to perceive it. Neither is it very easy to explain in words. However, once these principles are clearly formulated, they are easily understood.
No academic study is required for their understanding. Their simplicity, from an intellectual point of view, is perhaps also the reason why these principles are seldom, if ever, taught. This is true particularly in the academic field.
Teachers are not very interested in them and, among the students, only those who already have considerable practical experience are interested.
The others are not in a position to relate them to practice, as they have no experience of practice. In this sense, they are simple to understand; but acting in accordance with them is difficult for many. There are three reasons for this; of which the last one is to be taken particularly seriously. Firstly, the application of principles requires discipline; we must overcome our natural inclinations — something not many people like to do.
Secondly, many believe that principles cause them to lose flexibility. This is almost always an error; flexibility is often confused with opportunism. However, there is a third reason, a genuine one that makes the application of principles difficult. Though the principles as such, and this is my theory, are the same for all organizations and applicable to the same extent, they are always applied in a specific individual case, which can be quite unlike previous cases, has probably never occurred before, or has never been experienced by a particular manager.
A principle can be simple, but the individual case and its specific circumstances are usually very complex. Therefore, understanding principles is something very different from their application, because it is not only the principle that has to be understood. More important for the application of principles is what I know and understand about the actual details of the specific situation. Even the issue of deciding which, if any, principles are to be applied in a particular case can create difficulties.
All of this may sound complicated but most people are familiar with the essence of it. Lawyers are entirely familiar with this idea; it governs a substantial part of their profession. It is one thing to know the laws, it is quite another to apply them. However, everyone has already experienced this kind of situation to some degree.
Before we can get our driving license, we have to first learn the traffic rules in theory; even if we have learnt them very well, it does not mean that we are good drivers who can drive confidently and with experience — I will use this word often — in accordance with the provisions of the Road Traffic Act.
The key to the application of principles is training and experience. Useful in Difficult Situations As long as we have to deal with situations that are easy to cope with, we do not require principles either in management or anywhere else. The principles to be discussed here are useful, or even necessary, only in a difficult situation, when we are confronted with complex issues for which there are no obvious solutions.
We need principles when we are still sitting in the office late on a Friday evening, working on a difficult problem, when everyone else has already begun their weekend and we ask this question: What should I do in this situation?
The situation must be portrayed in such graphic detail because one school of thought in management emphasizes the complexity of organizations and consequently the situation faced by managers. With regard to this perception, it disputes or doubts the utility of simple principles. I agree with this in so far as I accept the basic assumption of great complexity and consider this to be one of the main problems of management.
Beyond this point, opinions differ significantly with regard to the solutions to this problem, or to express it in a better way, with regard to suitable, sensible or correct behavior within a highly complex environment. I am of the opinion that the formation and functioning of complex structures, systems and organizations can, above all, be explained by rules, and that successful behavior within them should also be guided by rules.
I have explained this in detail in another of my books. It is precisely this perception that made me search for rules of behavior for managers in organizations which would help them deal with complexity — to seek principles of effective management. The principles can be very simple, though the outcome of applying and observing them can be highly complex.
Or vice versa: Highly complex systems can result from the observance of very simple principles. Not Inborn — Must Be Learnt by Everyone No one I know of was born with these principles or with behavior that conformed to these principles.
Everyone has had to learn them. Not everyone has immediately or readily admitted this. However, whenever I have had the chance to look behind the scenes, I have found that even those who, for some reason, did not want to agree with this view, did not have natural talent but had had to learn management just as everyone else did. Why they were inclined to portray themselves as naturally talented has never been clear to me.
If everyone had to learn management, where did they learn it? Time and again, the same three ways crop up: The vast majority learnt management, and this is the first way, simply through trial and error, by trying out all sorts of solutions. This is a lengthy and laborious way, many mistakes are made, and the manager is relatively old by the time the lessons have been learnt. At the age of 20 we do not know what is important in management. Most were well into their late thirties and many way past 40 when they realized, to some extent, what was essential in management.
A small majority, and this is the second way, was very lucky to have had a competent boss in their first or second job, that is to say quite early in their career. Please note that I am not talking about a cooperative, pleasant or modern supervisor but a competent one. There are people who are both pleasant and competent, but most are not.
Neither are they cooperative on principle or because it is considered modern. They are cooperative when it is sensible and effective to be so. Therefore, the people who belong to the second group have, at the start of their professional life, had a supervisor from whom they can learn something. In the case of a few, the drive and sometimes even the passion to learn something about management, and be better at it, stems from the opposite experience, namely an incompetent boss, from the trouble they had with their bosses, or because they suffered under them.
However, only the impulse was born here; they then learnt in the first or second way. Typical examples are people who were heavily involved in youth organizations, those who were actively involved in certain types of sports, or others who were always, not just once, selected in school to be the class representative by their schoolmates. It is easy to see that this third way is a variant of the first; it is learning through trial and error.
However, since these people started early, they gained experience much earlier. These three ways in which management is typically learnt are not characterized by any particular system. At some point in time, we learn enough to be able to carry out our tasks to some degree. I do not hold the opinion that our organizations are filled with bad managers. However, the ways in which people assume or rather stumble into important and sometimes top positions are often highly problematic.
It is inconceivable that people in other professions would rely on this type of learning. Ideal and Compromise If something is formulated as a principle, it sometimes has the appearance of being an ideal. Compromises must always be made. It is precisely because of this that principles or ideals are required, not in order to implement them but to gain the ability to differentiate between two types of compromises. Banal though it may sound to some, these are right and wrong compromises. Reaching the right compromise more often than the wrong one is one of the elements that differentiate good management from bad and responsibility from irresponsibility.
Every organization requires a few people in key positions who can differentiate between opportunism and clever behavior. Managers are required who, in difficult situations, not only ask the question mentioned 14 above, What should I do? There are managers who do not look for the easiest or most pleasant option, who are not concerned with what the media or the unions expect, with what would best serve their careers or income, but who are sincere and honest in searching for what is right.
This does not guarantee that they will always find an answer. Even these managers strike a wrong compromise sometimes. However, the occasional incorrect compromise does not cause any lasting damage. It is damaging and dangerous when wrong compromises accumulate, and this usually happens when the ideal is no longer set as the standard and the principles are forgotten or ignored.
What Type Should Be a Model? What type of manager do I mean when I talk about good or competent managers? I first want to mention the type I do not mean. In three years, a short time, almost anyone can be successful. This is relatively easy.
However, this does not prove anything and is not evidence of success. Previously, such people fascinated me because they shot into the limelight. However, short-term success is meaningless. What counts is being successful in the long run, for a period of not three but 30 years, always making fresh starts, despite all the setbacks encountered by everyone at some time.
I have long since given up taking the media wonders seriously and studying them. These people either disappear into oblivion just as quickly as they emerged from it, or there is a very different, much more dangerous species: the multiple three-year wonder.
Books by Fredmund Malik
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