• Starting early in the 20th century there has been a continuous evolution of tools for management and their advisers to address different parts of the overall productivity ratio

  • Some proved more effective than others

  • Their common aim invariably has been the same viz:

    ‘Either to increase outputs and outcomes or reduce inputs and costs’

  • A spectrum of tools has emerged over the following decades – with inevitable acronyms:

    • 1930s:

      • O&M – Organisation and Methods

      • WS – Work Study, aka ‘Scientific Management’ – Time study, Method study

    • 1960s:

      • Corporate planning – Strategy formulation

      • Mainframe/ Mini computers – e.g. IBM 1401, IBM 360

      • MBO – Management By Objectives

      • OR – Operations Research – Linear programming, Regression analysis, Simulation

      • SA – Systems Analysis

      • SWOT analyses – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

    • 1970s:

      • Boston Grid – ‘Growth Share’ matrix

      • PIMS study – ‘Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies’ study

      • SPC – Statistical Process Control

      • VA – Value Analysis

    •  1980s:

      • BS 5750 (UK)  –  ISO 9000 (RoW)  –  Baldridge Award (USA)

      • Downsizing – LIFO

      • Expert Systems – Planned Maintenance

      • MBWA – Management By Walking About

      • Micro computers – Word, Visicalc software

      • PPF – ‘Putting People First’ – Culture change programmes

      • TQM – Total Quality Management

      • 5 Competitive forces – Porter, Harvard

      • 7 S’s – Success factors – Parker, McKinsey’s

      • 8 A’s – Attributes of successful companies – Peters & Waterman, McKinsey’s

    • 1990s:

      • BSC – Balanced Score Cards – Kaplan & Norton

      • BEM – Business Excellence Model

      • BPR – Business Process Re-Engineering – Davenport & Hammer

      • WWW – World Wide Web – Internet – Berners-Lee

      • LEAN

      • Outsourcing – Offshoring

      • 6 σ – Six Sigma

    • 2000 onwards:

      • AGILE

      • Apps – Software application algorithms

      • AI – Artificial Intelligence

      • KM – Knowledge Management

      • Onshoring

      • Social Media – iPhones, Androids


Agile is an approach first developed for software development because of all the failures of large-scale IT systems It has many advocates An article in the Harvard Business Review entitled ‘Embracing Agile’ even said: “Given its success to date, it should become the go-to means for organisation-wide transformation” But its success record has not been …

BSC – Balanced Scorecards

Robert Kaplan and David Norton first proposed a ‘Balanced Score Card’ to measure all KRAs – Key Result Areas – where it was vital that an organisation performed well if it was to achieve its longer term aims – otherwise, its very survival could be in jeopardy However, they gave no clear steer on the …


Lean was invented by Taiichi Ohno and evolved at Toyota over the last 50 years Its goal is to eliminate waste and continuously improve productivity in every area of work, including customer relations, product design, supplier networks and factory management Wikipedia says Lean aims ‘to produce less low-value human effort, less inventory, less time to develop …

OR – Operations Research

Most improvement projects do not need much more than common business sense and basic maths and statistics skills to find good solutions – but some do OR aims to find optimal solutions to complex management problems when there’s a clear objective and a large number of variables and choices involved – it’s the cream of …


To stay competitive, the recent trend has been to outsource whole processes because: Others, whether at home or abroad, can complete them better or cheaper They’re only needed occasionally They’re supportive, not core, and only the latter must be controlled closely Over the last three decades, many UK organisations have resorted to outsourcing abroad viz: …

PPF – Putting People First

In the mid 80s, British Airways had completed a major cost cutting exercise, including labour shedding, and was starting to be profitable again Bosses Lord King and Sir Colin Marshal decided that a complete change of attitude towards customers, both internal and external, was then needed by all staff at all levels and in all …

Quality Circles

Managers and their teams should be forever looking for ways to improve anytime, anywhere, at any level, no matter how small the improvement One popular ‘Continuous Improvement’ approach is the use of Quality Circles, first devised by Dr Akira Ishikawa – he also invented the cause-and-effect fish diagram Quality Circles assume most employees will want …

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a statistical approach which aims to drive up profits by putting extra special effort into ensuring goods or services conform to specification As with SPC – Statistical Process Control –  it’s applicable to repetitive processes but some goods and service organisations need much higher precision with their outputs if they are to …