General Management

Scope of general management


Public and Business Management imply a commitment to policies, implementation and following through on actions.

  • Many situations exist where actions are taken, while no tangible decisions have been made.
  • Many situations exist where decisions taken are not followed through by monitoring subsequent actions.

This applies particularly to the area of policy making, and strategic management. Jeffcutt (1994) has expressed this equivocal nature of management as follows:
“The understanding of organization is inseperable from the organization of understanding.”

Drivers and Barriers of Change

Strategies are inputs to processes of change. Companies and political institutions – particular examples of social systems – are continuously involved in balancing forces of change.

Managing organized complexity

Actors are shaping and continuously re-shaping a system of interactions – a social organization – that may generate an outcome that is beneficial to all parties involved. This system of interactions constitutes forms of organized complexity, in which company policies, economics, technology, and social choice are entangled. The related strategic goal setting can be characterized as follows. Personal and social characteristics, loyalties, and interests mold the strategic problems. Therefore, they are dynamic and lack a definite expression. Each strategic commitment triggers actions, which make the original problem formulation rapidly obsolete. The process of formulation and reformulation of strategy is ongoing. The formulation of what is at stake, and the options to solve it are inseparable. Reformulation leads to different options, leading to reformulation of the issue. Strategic goal setting has no closure. Restructuring the companys socio-economic system sows the seeds for the next round of restructuring. It is interconnected with managing risks and opportunities in areas such as, finance, material resources, human capital, information, government policies, etc. Strategic problems are unique; history provides the actors little guidance.

These notions have among others provided the input for the design of the general management game “FUNO”.

Design specifications of the general management game: FUNO

Who is the client?
The client was a major management-training institute in the Netherlands. Accountable for the design was the then deputy director of the institute. The problem owner was the then head of Research & Development, in charge of setting up the new training program “The New Manager”.

What is the purpose, and what is the context of use?
The purpose was to design an integrated (general) management game that should be positioned at the beginning of the new management-training program. It should at the start of that program enable the participants to assess their strengths and weaknesses as a manager, and to help them to detect blind spots in self-perception about their way of functioning in a company. Therefore, FUNO is not aimed at training certain skills. It should address potential capacities and learning needs to improve management competency. Those needs are subsequently addressed during the following phases of the training program. As the institute had ample experience with business simulations, a precondition for FUNO was that it should not be a computer-supported game. It was made clear by the client – right from the beginning – that such games would give the participants the wrong impression about managing a company. It would give them the wrong idea that, if they would succeed in mechanistically manage a company through such a business simulation, they might wrongly view themselves as competent managers in an increasingly volatile economy. The institute expressed that conveying such a message through a standard business simulation, would contradict common experience that management (including leadership) is an ongoing process of structuring the company. FUNO catches the flavor of the more fuzzy and less structured sort of work of the upper level of management, involved in long term strategic, normative decisions and entrepreneurship based on ideas, and a vision of the future. The overall training program consists of seven modules, spread over a period of one year. FUNO is part of module two: Strategic management and Cooperation. It should enhance the framing of a Personal Development Process profile (PDP), including the core competencies needed as defined by each individual participant. FUNO should run for 2 – 3 days, for 20-25 participants.

What is the subject matter?
FUNO should address the following issues, which are embedded in goals of the overall training program: integrated management & business administration, strategic and change management, entrepreneurship, leadership, vision, guts, adaptability, strategic understanding, supporting drivers of change and helping the participants in achieving their goals.

Intended audience
FUNO aims at senior managers, board members, and entrepreneurs, motivated to improve their capacities to handle ongoing change and innovation processes. They have 10-20 years of managerial experience, and are between 33 and 48 years of age. FUNO should improve their competency as company leaders. As classes of The New Manager include 20 – 25 participants, FUNO should provide each of the participants a meaningful role to play. The profile for participants, and therefore of FUNO players is sketched as follows:

  • You have experience in various management functions
  • You lead change processes in your organization
  • You are up to a more challenging function
  • You invest in your career, and improving competency is important for you
  • You aim at improving your impact in the organization
  • You want to change the course of events and are aware that the key to success is your behavior, your integrity
  • You are a people manager during change processes
  • You are interested to broaden your scope, beyond the kinds of knowledge taught at traditional business schools. More explicit knowledge does not imply more capacity to know how and when to act properly.

For further details, see Chapter 11 of the book:
The Magic Circle: Principles of Gaming & Simulation