The purpose of this book is to provide the reader with an appreciation that there is a better, more natural approach to managing people and technology than that which has characterised much of the last twenty years of hi-tech business. Previous methods of management have been anything but natural. They have been structured around authoritarian hierarchies and reliant upon opaque master / servant thinking. Their routine operation has been governed by owner-driven money making rather than customer-centred service provision.
This book examines the historical origins of quality management from the 18th century to the present day. It describes the major contributions made by those exceptional entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and managers who, over the centuries, have helped to weave a fabric of understanding about how the material and human worlds can most profitably interact. In particular it identifies how 'connected (systemic) thinking' and 'seamless (process) working' can be powerfully combined to create a better way of managing. It is a way that transforms an organisation into a world-class business delivering superior value to customers through its products and services without incurring a cost premium - the essence of what the author terms, for good historical and practical reasons, 'economic-quality'.
The new way of managing that emerges from this broad review of some three hundred years of management experience is shown to be founded on three simple principles: 1) that business organisations can only achieve economic-quality by respecting the very same laws that govern all natural systems; 2) that as the customer always occupies centre-stage in the economic marketplace a process approach to management will, by definition, drive a business more successfully than would be possible using the traditional functional approach, and 3) that fast advancing technology, however spectacular, is only as useful as the ability of people to appropriately and intelligently apply and deploy it.
This book offers readers insights into the socio-technical realities of business and presents a number of axioms that the author maintains are central to all business management. The axioms relate particularly to the 'first metre' of the customer / supplier journey. The author suggests that it is the conduct of this initial stage, and the decisions taken therein, that primarily influence, more that any other part of the journey, the eventual success or failure of any business process or project. Extra costs, schedule over-runs and reduced reliability - so often seen in large capital construction projects and major computer software implementations - all result from a failure to coherently respect the disciplines of 'first metre' working outlined in this book about managing in the 21st century.