While the secrets to success may change from time to tim and while management fads come and go, the fundamental principles of sound management remain remarkably similar over time.
* Quality product/service
Whether you managed in the 1930s or whether you manage in the 1990s, the creation of a quality product or service is a sound strategy.
As a CEO of a large company put it, "When it comes to quality, I'm an S.O.B." And remember, it is not design, production, marketing, or quality-assurance people that define quality; rather, the customer defines quality.
* Investor's long-term value
Often, in the rush of fixing blame for our problems, we forget that it is the risk money of investors that makes possible the delivery of our goods and services.
Sound managers work hard to increase earnings per share, stockholders' equity and stock prices.
* Employee treatment
Recently, I asked the founder of a long-term, successful company why he had the foresight to develop employee involvement and recognition programs more than 40 years ago. His response was, "It just seemed like the right thing to do."
Paying well, encouraging ownership, communicating openly and candidly, encouraging meaningful participation and dignifying others was sound management in the 19th and 20th centuries and it will be so in the 21st century.
* Financial soundness
Society of today (or of yesteryear) does not have much respect for individuals who lack the discipline to pay their debts, and the same is true for managers who financially extend their companies beyond the brink.
There is a fine line between reasonable, calculated risks and ego-driven, monument-building efforts. Sound management principles require that you know the difference.
* Community involvement
Whether in this nation or another, it is society that grants the right for our companies to exist. When societies experience pollution, ethical, safety, health, discrimination and crime problems, companies also suffer.
While it may be morally appropriate for management to get involved in helping society, it is also a sound, long-term strategy for success.
Gerald Graham is a professor at Wichita State University and a management consultant. Send questions to The Wichita Eagle, P.O. Box 820, Wichita, Kan. 67201. He will answer representative questions in the newspaper but cannot respond to every request.