I took my first business class, Management 101, as a college freshman in 1975. At the time, I admittedly didn’t know anything about business, management, or much else of any depth or significance. But I did know one thing for sure: I had to pass Management 101 to eventually secure a business degree and to get on with my career.
Within the first 15 minutes of that first entry-level management class, our professor introduced us to what he called the four management functions. I remember the phrase distinctly. I wrote it down. He made a point of emphasizing those words. As a result, I felt certain they would reappear in some form as a future test question.
I was right. The four management functions did appear again—and not just once. They kept appearing and reappearing, again and again and again, in various tests, projects, studies, and discussions for the full four years of my business education. By the time I graduated from the university, business degree in hand, I was honestly pretty sick of hearing about these four functions and their various iterations. I was ready to move on—to cast off management theory and to embrace management practice.
But even then, I couldn’t get away from the four management functions. Within hours of starting my first job out of college, I was surrounded by their reality yet ...