Every company has a management system; few of them know what their system is. There are several management theories available (here one link, but you can find a lot of data on each one of those theories – https://www.cleverism.com/popular-management-theories-decoded/).

Management Systems

Each company intentionally or (most common) unintentionally adopt several ideas from several management systems and create their own application. The day-to-day application of different management theories is the management system.

Few organizations took the effort to define their management system. The majority of managers have their own perception of the organization management system and they are following their version.

In this post, I will define 3 main types of management systems. I won’t give them any names or colors or any other characteristics that imply a subjective point of view. I’ll call them system one, two and three.

Each organization has these three types of management systems used differently by managers/leaders. The percentage of usage of each management system type is different in any organization. Sometimes, you’ll find these 3 systems in each organization unit.

I will define these three management systems based on twelve perspectives. First, I will explain each perspective. Just after understanding the perspective I’ll walk you through how each management system suggests management/leadership approach each perspective.


  1. Defending people: This perspective defines what to expect from people. Are people basically “good”, “bad” or a combination of those? This basic definition of people has a big influence on what to expect from people and how to handle them.
  2. Organization metaphor: What is the basic metaphor that explains how organizations are working? This definition defines how to look at organizations. Different metaphors change how managers/leaders see the organization and expect from people in organizations.
  3. Information sharing: When and with whom information and data shared. Sharing information and exposing people to data has a big impact on both people and organizations.
  4. People motivation: Every management system has a different point of view, what is the main way to motivate people. Some of them understand that it might be tailored to different people’s needs, but they have a basic concept that they follow.
  5. Influencing science: Since the early days of management (100 years ago), management was based on trends in science. The evolution of science from deterministic and linear to contemporary science influences different management systems. The type of science a management system based on, tell everyone a lot about the management system.
  6. Work location: Different management systems have different views where the work should be done. There are a lot of variations from working at the office to working remotely.
  7. Thinkers / Doers relations: Several management theories that started 100 ago defined that managers should be thinkers and employee doers. Different management systems have a different point of view on this topic. Obviously, this topic has a significant impact on organizations and people.
  8. Organizing work: Different management systems have different concepts on how work should be organized and how people should perform the work.
  9. Who should do the work: Work can be done by internals, externals or any other combination of the mentioned options. Each option sets different worldviews on staff and externals as part of the organization.
  10. Risk-averse: The level of risks management system defined as acceptable to take has a significant influence on almost any aspect of the company. Quite a few of today’s business problems are rooted in the risk-averse level of companies.
  11. Organize people: This topic refers to the preferred organization structure by a management system. Organization structure is one of the main influences that management systems have on an organization. Structures are visible, tangible and therefore influence people the most.
  12. The company serves: Companies can serve owners, stakeholders, customers, communities, etc. Each management system has its perception of whom the company needs to serve.

Management system types

After describing the twelve perspectives, let’s see how each management sees those perspectives and expect managers/leaders to behave.

Management System 1Management System 2Management System 3
Defending peoplePeople are bad. Pessimistic view.Bad unless proven different. People can change.Good, unless proven different. Optimistic view.
Organization metaphorOrganizations are like machines.Partly a machine and partly living organism (people, process, technology)Organizations are living organisms.
Information sharingOpaque. No sharing.Knowledge on a need to know basisTransparent. All information and knowledge are available.
People’s motivationFear and money (Money used as fear)Just money. The Bottom Line is that most of the people care just about money.People needed to be inspired to be motivated. No fear
Influenced scienceDeterministic and linear sciences (Newtonian)Influence by relativityNon-deterministic and linear sciences (Chaos, complexity)
Work locationOffice / factorySome flexibilityRemote
Thinkers/Doers relationsMgmt – thinkers
Staff – doers
Mgmt – servant thinkers
Staff – initiative doers
Everyone is a thinker and a doer
Organizing workControl. work needed to be controlled.Empowerment. Give some control to people, but verify.Self-managed people
Self-organized teams
Who should do the workJust employeesStaff & consultantStaff, consultant, and long-term gig-economy consultant
Organize peopleSilos / HierarchyMetrix organizationsHybrid groups
The company servesOwnerStakeholdersCustomers / community

After understanding the three main management systems, it’s your time to figure out which management system is used at your company. Again, there is no right or wrong.

Please share in a comment, what your company preferred management system. It’s interesting to see which system is more dominant today.

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