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What is management

This is the third speech in the humorously speaking manual. The objective of the speech is to use jokes in the speech, open and close the speech with a funny story.

Dear chairman, fellow toastmasters, honored guests. A big engineering firm outsourced to Africa and hired four cannibals. On the first day of work, at the end of the orientation, the boss said to the cannibals, “You will make good money as engineers. You can enjoy free food in the cafeteria. Don’t trouble other employees.” The cannibals promised they will not trouble other employees. For four weeks, things is working pretty well, but one day the boss found the co-op student is missing. He came to ask the cannibals, “Do you know what happen to the missing co-op student?”. The cannibal swear they know nothing about the co-op students and the boss went away. After the boss is gone, the lead of the cannibals asked, “Who ate the co-op students?”. One hand raise hesitatingly, and the leader yelled at him, “You fool, we have been eating managers for four months and no one has notice they are missing. Now you ate a co-op student…”

What is management? How many of you have read the Dilbert cartoon? When we think of managers, we always think of the pointy hair guy, sitting in a big office doing nothing, knowing nothing except giving a harsh time to Dilbert. Unfortunately, many people has this misconception about management; and even some managers has the same misconception themselves. Management is the mean to enable a large group of people joint together to form a large organization that deliveries and performs. With out management, any large organization will degenerate into a mob.

Management is a relatively new discipline. It exists merely for 150 years. In ancient time, there was no management, there were only slave and the slave masters. Slave masters don’t manage people, they whip their back. The longest surviving large organization in history is the army. That’s why at the dawn management, managers often borrow ideas from military schools. Command and control is the most common management style in early large organizations. However there are some fundamental difference between a company and the army. A manager can ask the employees to march left and right like a soldier, but they can’t ask the employee die for the company. By the turn of the century, management get a new life when Henry Ford invented the assembler line. Management has became scientific management. The managers break down complicate tasks into simple tasks and trains unskilled labor work together. The managers also measure the performance and output of the workers. After World War II, our society has changed from a blue collar manufacturing society to a knowledge society. Manager has to co-ordinate different people with diverse knowledge and skill in to work together and perform in a large organization.

When we think of management, we often think of business management. It is wrong. Management is a lot more than business. Management is essential to any large organization to perform and delivery result, whether it is a business, a hospital, a university of the government. The result of a business is a satisfied customer. The result of a hospital is a healed patient. The result of a university is a student who can put his knowledge into good use after graduation.

Someone thinks management is science. It deals with numbers, the bottom line, ROI, six sigma and lots of techniques to measure the performance. Someone thinks management is humanities. It deals with people, culture, value, psychology to foster a harmony working environment. Management is really a liberal arts. It is an art deal with knowledge. Not just the knowledge about the service or product of the organization, but also the knowledge possessed by other people. Manager enable a group of people capable of joint performance through a common goal and common value.

There are three men, a manager, a hardware engineer and a software engineer, going to lunch. On their way to the restaurant, they found a magic lamp. They rub the lamp, a genie appears and says, “Usually, I grant you three wishes, but since there are three of you, I will grant each of you a wish.” The hardware engineer goes first, he says, “I want to spent the rest of my life living on a Hawaii beach, with lots of money and lots of beautiful women.” The genie grants his wish and sends him to Hawaii. The software engineer goes next, he says, “I want to spent the rest of my life living on a Mediterranean island, with lots of money and lots of beautiful women.” The genie grants his wish and sends him to the Mediterranean. At last, the genie asks the manager, “It is your turn, so what is your wish?” The manager replies, “I want my engineers back after lunch.”

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