Herbert Simon on Why the Principles Of Good Management are not Widely Practiced

Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize laureate and polymath, offered many contributions to the world in fields such as computer science/artificial intelligence, cognitive psychology, economics, and management.

This brief excerpt, taken from the his remarkable autobiography offers some timeless wisdom.

The principles of good management are simple, even trivial. They are not widely practiced for the same reason that Christianity is not widely practiced. It is not enough to know what the principles are; you must acquire deeply ingrained habits of carrying them out, in the face of all sorts of strong urges to stray onto more comfortable and pleasant paths, to respond without inhibition to provocations, and just to goof off. “

The principles of good management are simple but not easy. They require discipline and focus to maintain at the best of times. When things get tough we are further tested.

One thing that comes to mind for me is focus and the ability to say no. In a corporate setting the hardest thing in the world can sometimes be to say no to a good idea. Steve Jobs focused on saying no. And Warren Buffett commented on it when talking about the difference between successful people and very successful people. It’s easy to say yes. And yet we must stay away from the urges to say yes to everything. You need self discipline.


Still Curious? Simon literally wrote the book on Administrative Behavior.