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The lower the rank of managers, the more they know about fewer things. The higher the rank of managers, the less they know about many things
- Russell L. Ackoff, 1967

A manager is a person whose job is to administer something, such as a business, a restaurant, or a sports team.

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  • Most managers receive much more data (if not information) than they can possibly absorb even if they spend all of their time trying to do so. Hence they already suffer from an information overload.
  • The lower the rank of managers, the more they know about fewer things. The higher the rank of managers, the less they know about many things.


  • Dodge v. Ford still stands for the legal principal that managers and directors have a legal duty to put the shareholders' interests above all others and no legal authority to serve any other interests - what has come to be known as "the best interests of the corporation" principal.
  • Like every other department in Zephyr, Training Sales has an open floor plan, which means everyone works in a sprawling cubicle farm except the manager, who has an office with a glass internal wall, across which blinds are permanently drawn. Open-plan seating, it has been explained in company-wide memos, increases teamwork, and boosts productivity. Except in managers, that is, whose productivity tends to be boosted by—and the memos don’t say this, but the conclusion is inescapable—corner offices with excellent views.
  • How she became manager remains a mystery. But there are only two possibilities. One is that Senior Management mistook her tirades for drive and a commitment to excellence. The other is that they knew Sydney was a paranoid psychopath, and that’s exactly the kind of person they want in management.
  • The strategies that managers employ are at least as important as the facilities at their disposal.
  • I believe that leaders and leadership teams working together in a proper design will run the business more effectively than by hierarchical, command-and-control managing. But I can't prove that. And there are no models.
  • I think that not relying too heavily on one bank and one bank manager is a good rule to learn.
  • It’s simply to say that managers and investors alike must understand that accounting numbers are the beginning, not the end, of business valuation.
  • If you have a great manager, you want to pay him very well.
  • After one look at this planet any visitor from outer space would say "I WANT TO SEE THE MANAGER."


  • As for the employees, the payment in stock options revives, somewhat ironically, the old anarchist ideology of self-management of the company, as they are co-owners, co-producers, and co-managers of the firm.
    • Manuel Castells (2001) The Internet Galaxy - Reflections on the Internet, Business, and Society, p. 92
  • These are the duties of the overseer: He should maintain discipline. He should observe the feast days. He should respect the rights of others and steadfastly uphold his own. He should settle all quarrels among the hands; If any one is at fault he should administer the punishment. He should take care that no one on the place is in want, or lacks food or drink; in this respect he can afford to be generous, for he will thus more easily prevent picking and stealing.
  • Roughly speaking, I think it's accurate to say that a corporate elite of managers and owners governs the economy and the political system as well, at least in very large measure. The people, so-called, do exercise an occasional choice among those who Marx once called "the rival factions and adventurers of the ruling class."
    • Noam Chomsky (1970) "Government in the Future", talk at the Poetry Center of the New York YM-YWHA, February 16, 1970
  • Concentration of ownership in the media is high and increasing. Furthermore, those who occupy managerial positions in the media, or gain status within them as commentators, belong to the same privileged elites, and might be expected to share the perceptions, aspirations and attitudes of their associates, reflecting their own class interests as well...
  • [I]n the humanities and social sciences, and in fields like journalism and economics and so on … people have to be trained to be managers, and controllers, and to accept things, and not to question too much.
  • Only the general manager can mold the resources, processes, and values that affect innovation, into a coherent capability to develop and launch superior new products and services repeatedly.
  • We have overwhelming evidence that available information plus analysis does not lead to knowledge. The management science team can properly analyse a situation and present recommendations to the manager, but no change occurs. The situation is so familiar to those of us who try to practice management science that I hardly need to describe the cases.
    • C. West Churchman (1964) "Managerial acceptance of scientific recommendations". In: California Management Review Vol 7, p. 33. cited in: Peter P. Schoderbek (1971) Management systems. p. 199
  • Everybody's daily life consists of problems arising from what you decided yesterday. Managers understand that. Mathematicians want to solve a theorem, publish the results and walk away clean. Managers never walk away clean. The real world is a very dirty place.
    Clarity is supposed to be the objective of science. I disagree. I think the objective of science is confusion, because confusions carries you into problems.
    • C. West Churchman cited in: Peter R. Horner (1993). "TIMS Turns 40," in: OR/MS Today, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 40-43.
  • When a manager asks for hard data, that's usually just his way of saying no.


The manager's function is not to make people work, but to make it possible for people to work.
- Tom DeMarco, 1987
  • The manager's function is not to make people work, but to make it possible for people to work.
    • Tom DeMarco (1987) Peopleware, Productive Projects and Teams. p. 34
  • Part of America's industrial problems is the aim of its corporate managers. Most American executives think they are in the business to make money, rather than products or service...The Japanese corporate credo, on the other hand, is that a company should become the world's most efficient provider of whatever product and service it offers. Once it becomes the world leader and continues to offer good products, profits follow.
  • A manager of people needs to understand that all people are different. This is not ranking people. He needs to understand that the performance of anyone is governed largely by the system that he works in, the responsibility of management.
  • A manager sets objectives - A manager organizes - A manager motivates and communicates - A manager, by establishing yardsticks, measures - A manager develops people.
  • A manager's task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weakness irrelevant - and that applies fully as much to the manager's boss as it applies to the manager's subordinates
    • Peter Drucker (1992) Managing for the Future: The 1990's and Beyond p. 139


  • Systems analysis, conceived in a policy sciences framework, is the macro instrument of the systems manager for understanding, evaluating and improving human systems — which are defined as goal oriented interdependent units incorporating people, organization and some form of technology for control, administration or output.


  • To manage is to forecast and plan, to organize, to command, to coordinate and to control. To foresee and plan means examining the future and drawing up the plan of action. To organize means building up the dual structure, material and human, of the undertaking. To command means binding together, unifying and harmonizing all activity and effort. To control means seeing that everything occurs in conformity with established rule and expressed demand.
    • Henri Fayol (1916) cited in: Russell C. Swansburg (1996) Management and Leadership for Nurse Managers, p. 1
  • [In France] a minister has twenty assistants, where the Administrative Theory says that a manager at the head of a big undertaking should not have more than five or six.
  • Lack of specificity around stakeholder identity remains a serious obstacle to the further development of stakeholder theory and its adoption in actual practice by business managers. Nowhere is this shortcoming more evident than in stakeholder theory's treatment of the constituency known as 'community.
    • R. Edward Freeman (2001) "Enhancing Stakeholder Practice: A Particularized Exploration of Community,"


  • The greatest problem before engineers and managers today is the economical utilization of labor. The limiting of output by the workman, and the limiting by the employer of the amount a workman is allowed to earn, are both factors which militate against that harmonious co-operation of employer and employee which is essential to their highest common good.
    • Henry Gantt (1904) paper presented before the International Congress of Arts and Sciences at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition, St. Louis, 1904. Published in: H.L. Gantt (1910) Work, Wages, and Profits: Their Influence on the Cost of Living. 1910
  • The increase of this efficiency is essentially the problem of the manager, and the amount to which it can be increased by proper study is, in most cases, so great as to be almost incredible.
    • Henry Gantt (1910) Work, Wages, and Profits: Their Influence on the Cost of Living. p. 14
  • We certainly have at present the dismal situation that the most imaginative men are directed by a group, the top managers, who are among the least.


  • Everybody has his own theatre, in which he is manager, actor, prompter, playwright, sceneshifter, boxkeeper, doorkeeper, all in one, and audience into the bargain.
    • J. C. and A. W. Hare, Guesses at Truth, in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 4-6.
  • the net effect of increasing scale, centralization of capital, vertical integration and diversification within the corporate form of enterprise has been to replace the 'invisible hand' of the market by the 'visible hand' of the managers.
  • Managers are to information as alcoholics are to booze. They consume enormous amounts, constantly crave more, but have great difficulty in digesting their existing intake.
    • Robert Heller (1975) "Research in light of a dark tunnel" Audit AGB research. London, Spring 1973
  • In the unexamined American Dream rhetoric promoting mass higher education in the nation of my youth, the implicit vision was that one day everyone, or at least practically everyone, would be a manager or a professional. We would use the most elitist of all means, scholarship, toward the most egalitarian of ends. We would all become chiefs; hardly anyone would be left a mere Indian.


  • I think managers have realized that most software people are slightly brain damaged, that they're off on their own planets.
    • Eugene Jarvis (1982) From an interview with Wayne Robert Williams of Joystik magazine, September 1982


  • The project manager’s job is not an easy one. Project managers may have increasing responsibility, but very little authority. This lack of authority can force them to “negotiate” with upper-level management as well as functional management for control of company resources. They may often be treated as outsiders by the formal organization.
    • Harold Kerzner (1979) Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling p. 10 (2e ed. 1984)
  • In business the 80/20 principle is behind any innovation, any extra value. It is an entrepreneurial principle, a formula for value creation utilized not only by entrepreneurs, but by most managers and organizations.
    • Richard Koch (2003) The 80/20 Individual Chapter: The 80/20 Principle Is at the Heart of Creation


  • There is something wrong with the way in which we make our decisions. The Government listen too much to the pollsters and the party managers. The trouble is that they are not even very good at politics, and they are entering too much into policy decisions. As a result, there is too much short-termism, too much reacting to events, and not enough shaping of events. We give the impression of being in office but not in power. Far too many important decisions are made for 36 hours' publicity.
    • Norman Lamont (9 June 1993) "Resignation speech to the House of Commons]"
  • We are not utopians, we do not indulge in "dreams" of dispensing at once with all administration, with all subordination; these anarchist dreams…serve only to postpone the socialist revolution until human nature has changed. No, we want the socialist revolution with human nature as it is now, with human nature that cannot dispense with subordination, control and "managers." … The united workers themselves…will hire their own technicians, managers and bookkeepers, and pay them all, as, indeed, every state official, ordinary workmen's wages.


  • The manager treats ends as given, as outside his scope; his concern is with technique, with effectiveness ... The therapist also treats ends as given, as outside his scope; his concern also is with technique, with effectiveness ... Neither manager nor therapist, in their roles as manager and therapist, do or are able to engage in moral debate. They ... purport to restrict themselves to the realms in which rational agreement in possible—that is, ... to the realm of fact, the realm of means, the realm of measurable effectiveness.
  • If a manager asks an academic consultant what to do and that consultant answers, then the consultant should be fired. No academic has the experience to know the context of a managerial problem well enough to give specific advice about a specific situation.
    • James G. March & Diane Coutou Ideas as Art. Harvard Business Review 84 (2006): 83-89.
  • Instead of deciding once in three or six years which member of the ruling class was to misrepresent the people in Parliament, universal suffrage was to serve the people, constituted in Communes, as individual suffrage serves every other employer in the search for the workmen and managers in his business.
    • Karl Marx The Civil War in France : "The Third Address" (May 1871)
  • As far as possible the duty of a leader is to foresee dissatisfaction and to remedy injustice before complaints are made. To accomplish this he must maintain close contact with the men he controls. Let him go into the trenches if he is a general; let him arrive at the factory with his workmen now and then if he is the manager. He must have some imagination; an understanding of other men's lives is necessary to him, so that he may be able to protect those under him from unnecessary suffering. The secret of gaining their affection is to feel affection for them and to be able to do their jobs as well as they do them themselves. Men endure taking orders, and even like it, if the orders are given intelligently.
  • Failure to delegate causes managers to be crushed and fail under the weight of accumulated duties that they do not know and have not learned to delegate.
    • James D. Mooney (1931), cited in: Guy Kimberley Hutt (1990), Organizational decentralization and delegation in large New York. p. 1
  • We find that the manager, particularly at senior levels, is overburdened with work. With the increasing complexity of modern organizations and their problems, he is destined to become more so. He is driven to brevity, fragmentation, and superficiality in his tasks, yet he cannot easily delegate them because of the nature of his information.
  • Theory is a dirty word in some managerial quarters. That is rather curious, because all of us, managers especially, can no more get along without theories than libraries can get along without catalogs — and for the same reason: theories help us make sense of incoming information.
  • We tell our young managers: 'Don't be afraid to make a mistake. But make sure you don't make the same mistake twice'.
    • Akio Morita, cited in: Nick Lyons (1976) The Sony vision. p. 101
  • The most important mission for a Japanese manager is to develop a healthy relationship with his employees, to create a familylike feeling within the corporation, a feeling that employees and managers share the same fate.
  • The anxiety has been greatly increased by this government's multiplication of exams and emphasis on starting training as a middle manager in a computer company from the age of six.
    • John Mortimer (2003) Where There's a Will: Thoughts on the Good Life


  • In their work, designers often become expert with the device they are designing. Users are often expert at the task they are trying to perform with the device. [...] Professional designers are usually aware of the pitfalls. But most design is not done by professional designers, it is done by engineers, programmers, and managers.


  • I believe that science is best left to scientists, that you cannot have managers or directors of science, it's got to be carried out and done by people with ideas, people with concepts, people who feel in their bones that they want to go ahead and develop this, that, or the other concept which occurs to them.


  • Managers within organizations sometimes confront a type of problem that is difficult to solve, in part, because the problems involve many stakeholders with diverse perspectives. The different assumptions from each perspective result in differing views of the problem and potential solutions. It is difficult to produce a satisfactory potential solution when the formulation of the problem definition is the major concern and when applying a potential solution risks unintended consequences. Churchman (1967, p. 141) writes that the solutions proposed to solve these problems "often turned out to be worse than the symptoms"
    • Lars Paul (2010) A method for developing Churchmanian Knowledge Management Systems.p.2 Citing: C. West Churchman (1967) Guest editorial: Wicked problems.


  • To manage, learn your management skills from the greatest managers and those who were perfectionist by reading their failures.
  • It is a human inclination to hope things will work out, despite evidence or doubt to the contrary. A successful manager must resist this temptation.
  • The man in charge must concern himself with details. If he does not consider them important, neither will his subordinates. Yet “the devil is in the details.” It is hard and monotonous to pay attention to seemingly minor matters. In my work, I probably spend about ninety-nine percent of my time on what others may call petty details. Most managers would rather focus on lofty policy matters. But when the details are ignored, the project fails. No infusion of policy or lofty ideals can then correct the situation.
  • The corporate manager who achieves success by honest efficiency in giving the best service to the public should be favored because we all benefit by his efficiency. […] he should be helped by the Government because his success is good for the National welfare. But a man who, grasps and holds business power by breaking the industrial efficiency of others, who wins success by methods which are against‘ the public interest and degrading to the public morals, should not be permitted to ‘ exercise such power. Instead of punishing him by a long and doubtful process of the law after the wrong has been com- mitted, there should be such effective Government regulation as to check the evil tendencies at the moment that they start do develop.


  • We have an autocracy which — which runs this university. It's managed. We were told the following: If President Kerr actually tried to get something more liberal out of the Regents in his telephone conversation, why didn't he make some public statement to that effect? And the answer we received — from a well-meaning liberal — was the following: He said, "Would you ever imagine the manager of a firm making a statement publicly in opposition to his Board of Directors?" That's the answer.

    Well I ask you to consider — if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the Board of Directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I tell you something — the faculty are a bunch of employees and we're the raw material! But we're a bunch of raw materials that don't mean to be — have any process upon us. Don't mean to be made into any product! Don't mean — Don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We're human beings!

  • The world doesn't need a manager, or a boss, or a policeman. These aren't the heroes of today. The heroes of today are those who are doing what they want to be doing, having a good time, and introducing the one thing that every man, woman and child hungers for on a daily basis: happiness.
  • Now the secret to successful managing is to break down your club. The first 15 guys you don't have to bother with. They are always playing and don't need the manager. The next five play only occasionally, so you got to keep buttering them up. The last five you gotta watch all the time because they're plotting to get you fired.
    • Casey Stengel, speaking with reporters in December 1964 at MLB's Winter Meetings, as recalled by then-Cleveland Press reporter Bob Sudyk, and quoted in "Casey at the Bar: A Writer's Recollection of Stengel Stingers and Suite Stories" by Sudyk in The Hartford Courant (March 14, 1993), p. 18


  • While an equilibrium between worker and manager is possible, because both are workers, that which it is sought to establish between worker and owner is not. Their proposals may be excellent: but it is not evident why they are where they are, or how, since they do not contribute to production, they come to be putting forward proposals at all. As long as they are in territory where they have no business to be, their excellence as individuals will be overlooked.
  • … The war has shown us that we have tremendous resources to make all the materials for war. It has shown us that we have skillful workers and managers and able generals, and a brave people capable of bearing arms. All these things we knew before. The new thing — the thing which we had not known — the thing we have learned now and should never forget, is this: that a society of self-governing men is more powerful, more enduring, more creative than any other kind of society, however disciplined, however centralized.


  • Big businesses are often run by managers or bureaucrats, not entrepreneurs. So they morph into the Civil Service.
    • Malcolm Walker, British businessman. Interview for Director Magazine, June 2010.
  • Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.
  • Little things win or lose big games. It is not the job of a manager to think for the players, but to show them how to think for themselves.
    • George Weiss, as quoted in "The Powerhouse" by Jimmy Powers, in The Daily News (March 25, 1954), p. 81


  • If you want to do something that's going to change the world, build software that people want to use instead of software that managers want to buy.

See also

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