A Management System should be designed based on a generic model on what it should contain. You may think of this as the generic building blocks of an Organization. The ISO Management System standards put explicit requirements on the content and has a generic definition of a Management System. But the ISO standards does not tell us how to do the specific design of a Management System.
If we search in the literature to find examples of such generic models we should include the term Organization Model in the search. A Management System I view as a part of the wider term Organization Model. This term is more commonly used compared to Management System, in the context of how to design internal structures of an Organization. There exists a number of different models for Organization Design. In the book “Guide to Organizational Design” Naomi Stanford presents an overview of seven different system models of organization design. Certainly two of the models, Mc-Kinsey 7-S model, Galbraith’s Star Model, has a big impact on the way many think of organization models. All models described by Stanford includes “soft” elements, e.g. people, behavior, leadership, culture, etc. In the case of the McKinsey model four elements are soft. These four are style, shared values, staff and skills. Three of the element are “hard” elements. These are system, strategy and structure.
In my approach to design of a Management System, I do not include any “soft” elements. This is because I have a technocratic approach to the design of Management Systems. I think of the Management System as the tangible building blocks one should use to build an Organization. It may be an Organization Structure, Competences, Processes, etc. These you can design, develop and implement in an organization. As such building blocks are tangible, everyone working in an organization can relate to them and use them. This means that the Management System can be made visible and explicit. And I believe that explicit building blocks has direct impact on the people’s behavior in an organization and enables control of executions. The design of explicit building blocks enables management of an Organization.
I think of the Management System as the tangible building blocks one should use to build an Organization.
This approach to organization development or design of Organization Structures is a rather technocratic approach, and I find it important to understand for any manager. But I like to make it very clear that I do not neglect the importance of “soft” elements of an Organization Model. People, behavior, styles, culture, leadership, etc. are of course very important for any organization in order to reach its objectives and ambitions. But I also want to make my standpoint clear; you shall not mix the two aspects of soft and hard elements in one dimension. It is like different kind of worlds and has to be handled differently. At the same time I believe that a bad design of a Management System creates uncertainties and opens up for inefficient behavior in an organization. And a well-designed Management System supports positive behavior. (Stanford, 2007), page 22.