For most of our lives, we are members of one organization or another – college, a sports team, a musical or theatrical group, a religious or civic organization, a branch of the armed forces, or a business. Some organizations, like the army and large corporations,are structured very formally. Others, like a neighborhood basketball team, are more casually structured. But all organizations, formal or informal, are put together and kept together by a group of people who see that there are benefits available from working together toward some common goal. So a very basic element of any organization is a goal or purpose. The goal will vary-to win a league championship, to entertain an audience, to sell a product – but without a goal no organization would have a reason to exist.
All organizations also have some program or method for achieving goals – a plan. The plan might be to practice playing skills, to rehearse a certain number of times before each performance, or to manufacture and advertise a product. Whatever it is, without some plan for what it must do, no organization is likely to be very effective.
Organizations must also acquire and allocate the resources necessary to achieve their goals. Perhaps a playing field or rehearsal hall must be available, or money must be budgeted for wages. All organizations depend on other organizations for the resources they need. A team cannot play without the required equipment, manufacturers must maintain contracts with suppliers.
Managing Organizations. Management is the practice of consciously and continually shaping organizations. All organizations have people who are responsible for helping them achieve their goals. These people are called managers. These managers – coaches, conductors, sales executives – may be more obvious in some organizations than in others, but without effective management, organizations are likely to fail.
This subject is about how organizations are managed. More specifically, it is about how managers can best help their organizations set and achieve goals. Our emphasis will be on the so-called formal organizations – such as business, religious organizations, government agencies, and hospitals – that provide goods or services to their customers or clients and offer career opportunities to their members. But no matter how formal or informal, all managers in all organizations have the same basic responsibility: to help other members of the organization set and reach a series of goals and objectives.
As part of this process, managers can set the tone, influencing the attitude that employees have about their work. At Southwest Airlines, for example, CEO Herb Kelleher has developed a loyal and committed staff built on three values: 1) Work should be fun… it can be play… enjoy it; 2) Work is important… don’t spoil it with seriousness; and 3) People are important … each one makes a difference.