Management System Glossary of Terms

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

W. Edwards Deming said an "operational definition" is the first step towards effective management.

It helps us build a clear understanding of a concept so that it can be measured.

  • You can’t manage, what you can’t measure;

  • You can’t measure, what you can’t define;

  • You can’t define, what you can’t understand.


Accountability: A situation where an individual can be called to account for his/her actions by another individual or body authorized to do so and to give recognition to the individual for those actions.

Alignment of Functions: The process of getting the right functions at the right level.

Applied Capability (AC): The capability someone has to do a certain kind of work in a specific role at a given level at the present time.

Arrogant Pessimism: A mindset in which a person views the world around them as fundamentally flawless (arrogance) and if there are any flaws they can’t be corrected anyway (pessimism). For a manager, this is believing that the system they manage is perfect as designed and anything that doesn’t work they don’t believe it can be fixed.

Assess the People: TTP’s to assess the applied capability of people in their current role and potential capability for their future role.

Assumption: A thing that is taken for granted. It can be something that was proved true in the past and is now taken for granted or, for planning purposes, it can be something that has not yet been proven true but has to be taken for granted in order to plan a future endeavor.

Authority: Legitimated power – that is to say, power vested in a person by virtue of role to make decisions (to say both yes & no) and to expend resources – material, technical, and human.



Capability: The ability of a person to do work. Made up of the following elements:

  • Values and Commitment (V/C): Those things to which an individual will give priority or wants to do. Values are vectors which direct our actions. How much we value a role determines our commitment to work in it.

  • Skill: An ability, learned through experience and practice, to use given knowledge without having to pay attention (i.e., what a person has learned to do without thinking through the steps involved.)

  • Knowledge: Understanding gained through experience

  • Problem Solving Capacity: The ability of an individual to handle complexity in solving problems.

  • Temperament: Refers to the personality or enduring temperamental characteristics of a person, the key being that there are both negative and positive characteristics that can impact someone’s ability to apply their capability to the fullest.

Capability (Two Types):

  • Applied Capability (AC): is the level at which a person is actually working now in a role that may or may not call upon that person’s exercise of full potential, and is a function of CMP as affected by their Values & Commitment and the Skilled Knowledge that is applied

  • Potential Capability (PC):A person’s potential capability is made up of a) the ability to solve problems, make decisions & take actions that positively impact the future; b) their current knowledge & experience; c) what they value and are interested in (i.e. their commitment) and d) that they do not possess personality traits or deep-seated behaviors that would derail their ability to be effective in role.

Capture Value: TTP’s to capture a portion of the value you create in order to have a sustainable business model that continues to create value.

Causation: The relationship between cause and effect (A caused B)

Coaching: The process of teaching, instructing, and training an individual or group based on a formal relationship

  • Relationship: To establish authorities and accountabilities between the role of coach and learner.

  • Teaching: To tell and show the learner(s) the what, how, and why; or help them discover the what, how, and why using active listening, inquiry and reflection.

  • Instructing: To direct or advocate that the learner take action; and to help the learner do what was taught with feedback (help them do it as soon as possible and learn by doing).

  • Training: To practice what was taught and instructed using realistic working conditions with feedback (train as you will fight; fight as you train).

Complexity: Complexity is determined by the number of factors, the rate of change of those factors, and the ease of identification of the factors in a situation.

Complexity of Mental Processing (CMP) the maximum scale and complexity of the world that you are able to pattern and construe and function in, including the amount and complexity of information that must be processed in doing so.

Condition: A description of the circumstances (designs) affecting the way people work.

  • Current Condition: A description of a set of circumstances (design) that currently exists ("every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it gets").. "what is actually happening."

  • Standard Condition: A description of a set of circumstances (designs) that are expected or supposed to be in place (e.g., the way a process was designed to operate, or a product was designed to perform).

  • Target Condition: A description of a set of circumstances (designs) we are trying to reach but have not yet reached, it is better than our current design on the way toward ideal.. "what is should be happening."

  • Ideal Condition: A description of a future state set of circumstances (design) that is ideal (perfect) which are based on the best known science.. "true north"

Correlation: The relationship between two sets of variables.

Counseling: Discussion for the purpose of helping an individual to sort out personal difficulties.

Create Value: TTP's to enable strategic choice by 1) classifying the type of product you are developing and 2) how to position it for competitive advantage.

Culture: A pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group, as it solved its problems, of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered as valid, and therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, feel in relation to those problems.


Data: Facts which may be transformed into information.

Decision: The making of a choice with the commitment of resources.

Delegation: The act of assigning tasks to a subordinate.

Develop the People: TTP’s to develop the capability of people for their current role (coaching) and for future roles (mentoring).

Discretion: The exercise of judgment in making choices in carrying out a task. [p.p.]

Doctrine: A body of knowledge that is held and taught to practitioners as the correct way to perform within that entity (e.g., management within a specific organization), includes all the rules, tactics, techniques, procedures, and terms.


External: xxx


Functions: Types of work activity comprising clusters of accountability.


Goal: The object of a task; a what-by-when.



High Performance: A description (condition) of the highest achieving organizations (across any industry) who are solving problems faster than rivals to design, produce, and deliver to customers with twice the value (better), in half the time (faster), at half the cost (cheaper) and for a long period of time (>15 years).

Humble Optimism: A mindset in which a person views the world around them as riddled with imperfections (humble) but no matter how flawed with an energetic, open-minded commitment to discovery, they can always do better (optimism). For a manager, this is believing that the system they manage has flaws in its design and operation but that those flaws can be improved upon.


Ideal Condition: In a perfect state. True North. Ideal condition "creates the gap" from where you are (current condition) to where you want to be (Ideal condition).

  • Ideal Product: A product must create 100% value by entering the market with 0 cost of delay, and with perfect fit (i.e. delivering both the highest "non-price value" and the highest "price value" simultaneously with no trade-offs); and must capture 100% if the value rewarded by the market (i.e. revenue generated from both the highest unit price and the highest unit volume sold).

  • Ideal Process: A process must design, produce & deliver the product: on demand (actual pull signal by customer); no waiting (0 lead-time); no waste; in a batch size of one; with perfect safety (physical, emotional, professional).

  • Ideal Structure: A structure must perfectly match the vertical hierarchy and its functional grouping of roles to the nature and frequency of problem solving required of the product and process in order to solve those problems close to person place & time.

  • Ideal People: The "size of the person" (commitment, problem solving capacity, knowledge, and temperament) must be perfectly developed & matched to the "size of the role" outlined by the structure (i.e. "level of work") This is respect for people.

Implementation: The act of carrying out policies and programs by means of the assignment of tasks.

Individual Contributor: An individual contributor is anyone who is mainly engaged in producing direct output; this person does not delegate his/her work. Individual contributor work may occur at any level in the organization. Individual contributors may be managers of subordinates who provide them with direct output support.

Internal: XXX


Job Breakdown Sheet: A tool used by management to break a job into manageable segments of training and to help the manager prepare for and deliver on-the-job training to employees.

Job to be Done: A theory for understanding the motivation for why customers hire or fire products to help them et their job done.

Judgment: The weighing up of the factors in a problem, interplaying verbalizable knowledge and data and non-verbalizable mental processing in relation to each other.


Knowledge: Understanding gained through experience.

  • Know-how: The processes, procedures, techniques and tools you use to get something done.

  • Know-why: Relates to understanding the context of your role and the value of your actions, a key to generating commitment from team.

  • Know-what: The facts required to complete a task, the information needed in order to make a decision and the things you need to collect together before making something.

  • Know-who: Includes knowledge about relationships, contacts and networks or who to call for help.

  • Know-where: The ability to navigate through and find the right information.

  • Know-when: The sense of timing – to know the best time to do something, to make a decision, or to stop doing something.


Leadership: Is a required ability of a Manager. The ability to lead "is a social process that enables individuals to work together to achieve results."

  • Direction: Agreement on what the collective group is trying to achieve together - vision [target condition].

  • Alignment:Effective coordination & integration of work so that it fits together in service of the shared direction.

  • Commitment: People who are making the success of the collective group a personal priority (not just individual success).

Level of Work (LoW) in Role: The weight of responsibility felt in roles as a result of the complexity of the work in the role. The level of work in any role can measured by the time-span of discretion of the tasks in that role.

Level Pull: TTP’s to level the type & quantity of production over a fixed period of time; and a pull method of production control where downstream activities signal their needs to upstream activities


Management: The act of managing subordinates.

Management System: 1. A system to manage the interacting components (Product, Structure, Process, People) of an organization 2. A system based on the 4 Capabilities required to increase the rate of problem solving (i.e. learning):

  1. Design & operate work to see problems

  2. Solve problems close in person, place & time

  3. Capture & share knowledge from solving problems

  4. Managers coach & structure their team (1-3)

Manager: A person in a role in which he or she is held accountable not only for his/her personal effectiveness but also for the output of others; and is accountable for building and sustaining an effective team of subordinates capable of producing those outputs, and for exercising effective leadership.

Managerial Accountability Hierarchy (MAH): A system of roles in which an individual in a higher role (manager) is held accountable for the outputs of persons in immediately lower roles (subordinates) and can be called to account for their actions.

Manager-once-Removed (MoR): The manager of a subordinate’s immediate manager is that subordinate’s manager-once-removed.

Market Time (Cost of Delay): TTP's to measure the time it takes to respond to market opportunities; and to prioritize development decisions by calculating the impact of time on value creation & capture.


Mental Processing the process by which you take information, pick it over, play with it, analyze it, put it together, reorganize it, judge and reason with it, make conclusions, plans and decisions, and take action.

Mentoring: Discussion by a manager-once-removed to help a subordinate-once-removed to understand his/her potential and how that potential might be developed to achieve as full a career growth in the organization as possible.



One Piece Flow: TTP’s to produce and move one product at a time (or in small batches) continuously across processing steps.

Organization: A structure of interconnected people (individuals and teams) that interact to design and operate cross-functional processes in order to design and deliver products that are of value to a group of customers.

Organizational Learning: The process of improving actions through better knowledge to achieve intended outcomes.

Output: The countable product of the completion of a task.

  • Direct Output: Output which is signed off directly and neither sent up nor sent down.

  • Aided Direct Output: Direct outputs carried out with the assistance of subordinates.

  • Delegated Direct Output: Outputs which are assigned to be produced and sent out at subordinate levels.


People: Individuals occupying a structural a role.

  • People Rule Statement: Develop the process to deliver “just in time” (right product, right qty, right time, right cost).

Personal Effectiveness: The effectiveness of an individual’s work in producing outputs under prevailing conditions as judged by that individual’s immediate manager.