Marvin Bower

American business theorist

Marvin Bower (August 1, 1903January 22, 2003) was an American business leader, considered by the Harvard Business School as "the father of modern management consulting."

Marvin Bower

Quotes edit

  • The performance of business leaders during the next decade will play a major role in determining not only business but political and social trends for a long time to come. Here are some of the principal reasons:
    - Business leaders control the economic well-being of and stockholder.
    - The course of business shapes public opinion.
    - Business leaders shape public opinion.
    So, in addition to his or her prime responsibility of managing his or her enterprise at a profit, the business leader of today is faced with new and larger responsibilities. And, at the same time, the job of managing his or her enterprise at a profit is increasing in complexity. Consequently, the imposition of additional responsibilities makes the nation’s task of developing an adequate number of properly equipped executive leaders a staggering one indeed.
    • Marvin Bower (1949) The development of executive leadership. Harvard University. Graduate School of Business Administration. p. v

The Will to Manage (1966) edit

Bower, M., (1966). The Will to Manage: Corporate Success Through Programmed Management. New York: McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-07-006735-X
  • 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.
    • p. 7
  • People should be judged on the basis of their performance, not nationality, personality, education, or personal traits and skills.
    • p. 24 cited in: Rodney B. Plimpton (1976) Top management leadership and organizational performance. p. 52
  • Decisions should be based on facts, objectively considered — what I call the fact-founded, thought-through approach to decision making.
    • p. 24
  • A business of high principle generates greater drive and effectiveness because people know that they can do the right thing decisively and with confidence.
    • p. 25
  • A business of high principle attracts high-caliber people more easily, thereby gaining a basic competitive and profit edge.
    • p. 25
  • Fourteen basic and well-known managing processes make up the components from which a management system for any business can be fashioned.
  1. Setting objectives: ...
  2. Planning strategy: ...
  3. Establishing goals: ...
  4. Developing a company philosophy: ...
  5. Establishing policies: ...
  6. Planning the organization structure: ...
  7. Providing personnel: ...
  8. Establishing procedures: ...
  9. Providing facilities: ...
  10. Providing capital: ...
  11. Setting standards: ...
  12. Establishing management programs and operational plans: ...
  13. Providing control information: ...
  14. Activating people: …
    • p. 26
  • The business with high ethical standards has three primary advantages over competitors whose standards are lower:
    • A business of high principle generates greater drive and effectiveness because people know they can do the right thing decisively and with confidence. ...
    • A business of high principle attracts high-caliber people more easily, thereby gaining a basic competitive and profit edge. ...
    • A business of high principle develops better and more profitable relations with customers, competitors, and the general public, because it can be counted on to do the right thing at all times. By the consistently ethical character of its actions, it builds a favorable image.
      • p. 26
  • In large-scale organizations, the factual approach must be constantly nurtured by high-level executives. The more layers of authority through which facts must pass before they reach the decision maker, the greater the danger that they will be suppressed, modified, or softened, so as not to displease the "brass". For this reason, high-level executives must keep reaching for facts or soon they won't know what is going on. Unless they make visible efforts to seek and act on facts, major problems will not be brought to their attention, the quality of their decisions will decline, and the business will gradually get out of touch with its environment.
    • p. 31
  • The difference between a leadership and a command company can be very great indeed, because in a hierarchical situation, people who have concerns about reactions against themselves would simply not put forward negative information.
    • p. 34
  • I believe that in a leadership company most people will like their work. But the company will be an even more enjoyable place to work if the culture is designed to make it that way. Leading fosters a working atmosphere that stimulates an open exchange of ideas and fosters dissent. People should show a genuine concern for one another and treat one another with fairness, as peers and friends. With such an atmosphere it should be a pleasure to come to work.
    • p. 131
  • ... for all the reasons we have discussed in these pages, judgments brought to the board by leaders are likely to be better than those coming to the board in a command company. Moreover, the effective working relationships between leaders and directors in a leadership company further ensures the exercise of sound judgments for such momentous decisions ...
    • p. 134

Quotes about Bower edit

  • Marvin Bower, Rhode Island Alpha '25, was honored by Fortune Magazine this year when he was elected to the National Business Hall of Fame. He is considered the "father of modern management consulting.
    • The Bent of Tau Beta Pi. Vol 79-81 (1988). p. 10
  • Marvin Bower was a great leader and a great teacher. He did not believe leadership could be taught, but he did believe it could be learned. I had the opportunity to observe his deep personal influence on legions of business people and colleagues one by one. For that was his way. One by one.
    • John H. McArthur in: Elizabeth Haas Edersheim (2010) McKinsey's Marvin Bower: Vision, Leadership, and the Creation of Management Consulting. Foreword

External links edit

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