Effective Management—Scientific Techniques vs Practical Experience
by GORDON L. MURRAY Partner, Executive Office
Adapted from an address given before the Financial Executives Institute, Columbus—November 1964
I ORIGINALLY DEVELOPED the material for this talk in response to a request from the Los Angeles Chapter of The Financial Executives Institute that I speak on this specific subject. They asked that the talk touch on four points:
Effectiveness of Operations Research and Pure Mathematics vs. Practical
Are computers taking over and financial executives becoming obsolete?
Is the financial man relinquishing part of his responsibilities to new specialists—by default, by lack of training, or unwillingness to accept new changes?
What is effective management and how may the financial man keep himself
abreast of new developments?
The Los Angeles request ended up by suggesting, "Please make this controversial, if you want to."
I liked this last point but the fact is, I don't have to. The very essence of the subject matter is controversial. Business literature is replete with comment on this subject. The whole matter is being churned, analyzed, and discussed and no clear pattern of thought appears
to have emerged.
Comment runs the whole range from speculation of the Jules Verne science-fiction variety to a cynical attitude that scientific management-operations research-mathematical sciences are a fad without substance and without a real contribution to make in business affairs. A speaker on this subject has several choices open to him. He can dream and speculate that the mathematician and the computer are about to inherit, if not the earth, at least the management of our business affairs. He can speculate and philosophize on the socio-economic effect of the math-science-computer trend. On the other hand he can debunk the whole subject and conclude that all this is not for him or his company—that the subject is "way-out"—and he can be amused by it all.
I too like to dream and speculate about what may be in the future, but circumstances require that I earn my living by dealing with what is here today. It is difficult to "sell" what "may be" as a professional