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Overview of the Management System 3.1 (Open Source Reference Model)

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)


The Management System (Open Source) leverages the cumulative knowledge of management practitioners and evidenced based research from the past 130 years.[1][2][3][4]

The system was developed by DoD components in partnership with industry experts and academic researchers and builds off of the US Department of Wars version 1.0 open source management system - Training Within Industry.[5][6]

The system integrates the four organizational components of Product, Structure, Process and People. In addition, the system is based on the 4 capabilities of rapid problem solving underlying the Toyota Production System:[1]

  1. Design and Operate Work to See Problems (See Problems).

  2. Solve Problems Close in Person, Place & Time (Solve Problems).

  3. Capture and Share Knowledge from solving those problems (Share Knowledge).

  4. Managers Coach their Team in capabilities 1-3 (Managers Coach).

Derived from the original research of Steven J. Spear (Harvard Business School, Massachusetts Institute for Technology),[7] the system balances the two dimensions of high performing organizations: integrate the whole (product, structure, process & people); and increase the rate of problem solving to manage the whole (4 capabilities outlined above).[1][8]

Fundamentally, the system sets the standards of management by outlining a doctrine of rules, tactics, techniques, procedures & terms. The standards are intended to motivate change by creating a tension between the organization’s "current condition" and the "ideal condition" (i.e. True North).[9]

The objective of the system is to deliver more value, in less time, at less cost relative to the competition (better, faster, cheaper).[3] For the DoD, competition is defined by the threats posed by current and potential adversaries.

Open Source (Many Names)

Over the last 25 years, the US Department of Defense has leveraged evidence based research in their attempt to improve the management capability of the Department. DoD's need for change comes from an increased threat of adversaries and the requirement to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.[10]

This requirement to improve effectiveness and efficiency comes from established laws for "achieving an integrated management system for business support areas within the Department of Defense" (e.g. Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 and section 904 of Public Law 110-181 of the National Defense Authorization Act 2008).

The concept of open source promotes a free exchange of ideas within the DoD community to drive creative, scientific and technological advancement. The Management System (Open Source) is a reference model that captures the underlying doctrine driving many of the DoD's efforts to improve. For example, the Chief of Naval Operations line of effort called High Velocity Learning is based on the 4 capabilities outlined above. In addition, The Distribution Management System is based on those same underlying capabilities.[6][11]

Given that many programs come and go, it is important that the Department of Defense captures and shares the underlying doctrine of management that evidenced based research shows to be valid for producing high performance organizations.

Management Matters

"When we take stock of the productivity gains that drive our prosperity, technology gets all the credit. In fact, management is doing a lot of the heavy lifting" (Joan Magretta, Harvard Business School).[12] A growing body of evidence based research is showing the correlation and causation of management’s impact on organizational performance (productivity, growth, patents, profit, ROIC, etc).[13][14][15][16]

The Management System (Open Source) is based on this body of research and managerial practice. The research findings is best captured by Clayton Christensen, former Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School (HBS): "Management is the most noble of professions if it's practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team."

As a result, the system establishes the "practice routines" for the management profession. Evidenced based research in the field of practice shows that "practice makes permanent, so practice perfect".[17] This is echoed in Vince Lombardi's admonishment - "Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect". Therefore, the Management System outlines the practice routines that enable the profession to engage in daily and "deliberate practice"[18][19]

To be successful in the profession of management (as outlined by the Management System), the daily and deliberate practice routines require a manager to commit to three fundamental values: Respect for People, Continuous Improvement, and Customer First (similar to those stated in the Toyota Production System).[20]

Doctrine of Management

The Management System is a doctrine that outlines the fundamental rules, with supporting tactics, techniques, procedures and terms used for the conduct of managerial work in support of the DoD component’s objectives.[21] It is authoritative but requires judgment in application. Each organizational element of Product, Structure, Process and People outline the standards of management using the following construct:

  • Rule: An explicit and validated instruction governing the thinking and actions of managerial work (i.e. how to think and what to do). Validated means proven true in a given circumstance.

  • Tactic:  The employment and ordered arrangement of elements (e.g., products, structures, processes and people) in relation to each other in order to achieve an objective.  Employing a tactic may require integrating several techniques and procedures.

  • Techniques:  Effective and/or efficient methods used to perform tasks. Managers choose specific techniques based on the circumstance and objectives established.

  • Procedures:  Standard and detailed steps that prescribe how to perform specific tasks.  They consist of a series of steps in a set order that are completed in the same way, regardless of circumstance.

  • Terms:  The words and definitions used in the conduct of managerial work.

Underlying Research

  • Product: The doctrine of product is heavily shaped by the research of Clayton Christensen (disruptive vs. sustaining innovation, job to be done), Michael Porter (competitive advantage for creating & capturing value) and Donald G. Reinertsen (cost of delay, the invisible product architecture).[3][2][22]

  • Structure: The doctrine of structure is heavily shaped by the research of Elliot Jaques (level of work, accountabilities & authorities) and Alfred D Chandler Jr. ("structure follows strategy").[23][24]

  • Process: The doctrine of process is heavily shaped by the research of Steven J. Spear (rules in use - decoding the DNA of Toyota).[9][25]

  • People: The doctrine of people is heavily shaped by the research of Chris Argyris (model I & II theory in use, ladder of inference, inquiry & advocacy) and Elliot Jaques (potential capability: commitment, problem solving capacity, knowledge & temperament).[4][26][27]

Underlying Management Practitioners

  • Product: The advancement and application of product doctrine is best represented by Thomas Edison (phonograph, motion picture camera, practical electric light bulb) and Steve Jobs (Mac, iMac, Pixar, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad).[28][29]

  • Structure: The advancement and application of structure doctrine is best represented by Andy Grove ("guy who drove the growth phase of Silicon Valley") and Hyman G. Rickover ("Father of the Nuclear Navy").[30][31]

  • Process: The advancement and application of process doctrine is best represented by Taiichi Ohno ("father of the Toyota Production System") and Henry Ford (continuous flow production).[32][33]

  • People: The advancement and application of people doctrine is best represented by all of the above management practitioners: Taiichi Ohno (adoption of Training Within Industry), Thomas Edison ("organized science and teamwork to the process of invention"), Steve Jobs (challenged people and whole industries to "Think Different"), Henry Ford (pioneer of "welfare capitalism"), Andy Grove ("training is the boss's job"...and training takes place between people..."meetings are the medium of managment"), Hyman G. Rickover (his legacy of people development and technical achievement is undeniable: "United States Navy's continuing record of zero reactor accidents").

Learn More (Next Sections):

The Four Organizational Components (Product, Structure, Process, People)

The Four Capabilities (See Problems, Solve Problems, Share Knowledge, Managers Coach)


  • Information in this post was provided to Wikipedia contributors to develop an article. We are reproducing much of their article here.

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