Extraordinary Management And The Rational Model


Any institution will adopt management approach that best suits its functions. However, some organizations choose approaches that end up stifling the operations and development of its members. This mostly results from the lack of knowledge on the appropriate approach and their effects. However, the fear of losing power can also force some people in management to adopt a particular approach. This is sometimes done at the expense of the organization's development. In other occasions, the existing management may lack adequate skills to run a given approach effectively. This therefore calls on the management to do thorough research and find out which system to apply and when. Otherwise, the organization may not be able to achieve its goals even if all resources are available (Huber, 2006).


Ordinary management refers to a type of management that is practiced when most of the managers in the organization have a common understanding on the mental models or paradigms. It entails rational processes which strive to achieve harmony or convergence to a configuration and it moves in an incremental manner (Tovstiga 2010). Extraordinary management refers to challenging the existing paradigms by questioning and shattering them and creating new ones after toppling the existing ones. This process is characterized by contradiction and tension. Therefore, it can be referred to as a process that involves the use of political, intuitive, group learning modes of decision-making as well as self-organizing forms of control in open-ended situations of change (Tovstiga 2010).

Characteristics of ordinary management

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Ordinary management is based on a legitimate organizational system that is bureaucratic, hierarchical and has an officially approved ideology. Secondly, it emphasizes consensus, team building and conformity among managers. Thirdly, it is characterized with progressive and incremental change that uses a rational approach to strategy. Fourthly, control is predominantly negative feedback control type whereby no deviation from the standard behavior patterns or the target plans followed by the firm is allowed. This type of management therefore requires a high degree of certainty and predictability in the business environment (Botten, 2006).

Characteristics of extraordinary management

The extraordinary management has the following features: first, it has a spontaneous system of self-organization which operates through a shadow system of political contacts and networks in the organization. These are often working against the official hierarchical and bureaucratic structures. Secondly, it has an organizational learning process from which creative and innovative directions are formed. Thirdly, it builds on the tactic knowledge which refers to the unexpressed or unconscious knowledge of the group members. This knowledge comes out as awareness or expertise in a given area rather than communicated plans and instructions. Fourthly, this type of management does well when the organization is near the edge of disintegration and the deeply held norms are questioned. Lastly, the members under this approach do not purse a particular goal; instead, they make irrational decisions that are focused on gaining members' commitment (Botten 2006).

Organization's support systems

Both approaches, ordinary and extraordinary management, can and/do exist in any given organization at one particular period. However, ordinary management flourishes in the legitimate system while extraordinary management does well in the shadow system. Therefore for a clear understanding of the two management approaches it is important to examine the two systems that separately support the two systems (Carr & Gabriel, 2001).

Legitimate systems

In any organization, there exists a hierarchy which essentially makes up a legitimate system. The boundaries of the legitimate system are clearly cut and generally encompass the pursuit and conduction of the primary task of the organization. Therefore every member of the organization is required to focus on attaining the goals. This means that the themes encouraged in the system are those that are consistent with the official ideology. In essence, it is possible to view the legitimate system as a mechanism that helps the organization maintain equilibrium. As a result, the members of the particular organization are able to execute their mandate with minimal effort (Marion, 1999).

Attempts to introduce change will be countered with defense mechanisms which result in single loop learning or negative feedback loops. These defense mechanisms include 'undiscussables' whereby the management labels certain philosophies and activities as 'undiscussable' hence no one is allowed to discuss them. The organization can also use a defensive mechanism called defensive routine whereby some activities are automatically initiated to subvert the new idea. Examples of the defensive routines include ignore mode whereby a new idea is simply ignored. The management can also use genuine management activities to suppress change whereby committees are formed with no intention of reaching a conclusion (Delahaye, 2002).

The shadow system

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This refers to the interactions between an organization's members that are outside the outlined rules of the legitimate organization system. The shadow system is made of informal networks. Its main role is to allow for causal conversations and tasks to be done in an informal way (Carr & Gabriel, 2001). This system has no clear boundaries, however, people are able to self-organize themselves and learn through these informal networks. This system tends to pull the organization towards chaos and is characterized with a diversity of thought and approach. As a result, much of the creativity in the organization originates from the system (Burke, 2004).

Importance of ordinary management

Any organization is faced with two types of strategic management problems which can be either ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary management is helpful in dealing with ordinary problems. Managers dealing with such a problem are likely to agree on what the problem is because they operate under a known agreed model which has been proved to be practical (Stacey, 1996). Therefore, they can easily understand and agree on the solution to the problem. Moreover, they are only required to run through a procedure or make rational choices from potential alternative solutions. They also will be using a standard which is an agreed performance indicator. Examples of standards include profit growth or market share. Through ordinary management, dealing with ordinary problems may seem like playing games and solving puzzles with the aim of achieving clear objectives using agreed strategies within a relatively stable environment (Stacey, 1996).

Importance of extraordinary management

Extraordinary management can be helpful in managing extraordinary problems because such problems are always open-ended. This means that they are not definable and are not easily agreed on. Extraordinary problems also have no clear boundaries and are prone to contradictions and dichotomies. Such problems may not have any known procedure that can be used to solve them or a performance indicator that the managers can agree on as a standard. Therefore, extraordinary management comes in handy because it seeks to abolish the current system in favor of a new one as opposed to ordinary management that focuses on modifying and maintaining the system. This is because extraordinary management always tries to find the unique factor of the problem which ordinary management cannot deal with (Lundy & Cowling 1996).

Advantages and disadvantages of ordinary management

Ordinary management has both advantages and disadvantages which can be explained as follows: The first advantage is that through ordinary management, an organization can be able to formulate realistic targets and monitor them to ensure that they are achieved according to the plan. This is possible because formulation of the plan is always made before the project is initiated. In addition, learning is done before action and the findings are recorded in documents for future reference. As a result, the management is able to measure the outcomes, compare them with the policy and correct the difference (Lessem 1998).

The second advantage is that collected information is validated before application. This ensures that all information used in the system has been tested and found to be producing the required results; hence, this is important in reducing wastage and promotes efficiency and effectiveness. This is possible through the comprehensive collection of information which is then channeled to the centre for analysis before it is used for policy formulation. The third advantage is that there is uniformity in implementation of decisions because the ordinary management draws authority from the legitimate system. As such, instructions for implementation are passed down the hierarchy and the subordinates are expected to implement them without deviation (Oliver 2001).

The main disadvantage is that ordinary management acts as a hindrance for the much needed creativity and innovation in an organization. The management focuses on maintaining stability by insisting on the existing procedures and frustrating any effort for change. Such measures suppress any innovative ideas that would have enabled the organization to move to another level or have a competitive edge over its rivals. The other disadvantage is that pure ordinary management approach does not last. In essence, stagnation results from an organization's tendency to stay in equilibrium all the times. This means that pure ordinary management can only guarantee survival for the short-term but cannot provide for enduring growth or even growth in the long-term (Oliver 2001).

Advantages and disadvantages of extraordinary management

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The main advantage of extraordinary management is that it can be used to tap in to the creativity and innovations to the benefit of the organization. This approach provides room for the members of the organization to come up with new ideas of which some are even outside the organization's policies. A rich environment is created such that creativity is enhanced. Therefore, the new ideas can be collected and examined to find out their practicality. As a result, the organization will be able to come up with new ways of operations and products that will give it a competitive edge over its rivals (Stacey, 1996).

Secondly, this type of management approach promotes a strong relationship between the management and the subordinates and among the subordinates themselves. The members of the organization are allowed to have their informal networks through which they interact and develop one another. They end up knowing each other's needs and meeting them. On the other hand, the room created by the management enables the members to be free with their management hence they can interact freely. This in turn increases the bond between the members of the organization and ensures that the organization can withstand a relatively high amount of instability in its environment (Dervitsiotis, 2005).

One disadvantage of this approach is that it is prone to inefficiency in the use of resources. The main reason for this is lack of set targets thus measuring performance becomes difficult. As creativity is encouraged, no monitoring is done to evaluate what has been achieved. The main goal is not to achieve a set target but to have members agreeing in going in a given direction. Therefore, the decision to pursue a given goal is made irrationally based on the commitment of the members to go in that direction. Secondly, an organization operating under this approach may end up not achieving anything at the end of a given period. This happens since individuals feel free and able to deal with situations as they arise and as they feel appropriate. Furthermore, change from one idea to the next is not made rationally. This worsens the situation because if members keep shifting from one idea to another, they may end up achieving nothing at the end of the day (Parker, Stacey & Institute of Economic Affairs (Great Britain), 1994).

Cooperation between ordinary and extraordinary management

Considering the importance of both ordinary and extraordinary management approaches, it is important that the management knows how and when to use each of them. It is clear that creativity resides in the shadow system which supports extraordinary management. However, extraordinary management promotes wastage of resources. On the other hand, ordinary management ensures that there is efficiency in the use of resources although it hampers creativity. Therefore, the management needs to ensure that as it puts in place systems to guarantee efficient flow of projects, they also need to provide room for creativity (Levy, 1994). In addition as the management strives to ensure that the goal to be achieved is fixed, they also need to recognize that the path to that goal may not be the same and that the journey may not be in clearly distinguished stages (Sbarcea, 2003).

The rational model

Donaldson (1982) defines rational model as a management approach which requires managers to use systematic procedures to arrive at decisions within the organization. This model assumes that corporate decisions result from a unified process whereby the chosen alternative is believed to maximize the organization's values. If such assumptions are adhered to when making decisions, then the decisions reached are said to be rational. The rational model sets out eight steps that a manager should follow while making decisions.

The first step involves monitoring the decision environment. This involves examining internal and external environment to find out any deviations from the expectations or plan. Secondly, the manager defines the decision problem, whereby the manager identifies the important details of the problem. This includes finding out who was affected, when and where as well as the effects of the problem on the organization's activities. The third step involves determining the target objectives that are to be achieved in case a decision is reached. Fourthly, there is diagnosing the problem which involves digging below the surface to find out the real cause of the problem (Daft, Murphy & Willmott, 2010).

On the fifth step, the manager is supposed to develop alternative solutions that can help in achieving the desired outcomes. This involves seeking ideas from other people as well. The sixth step deals with evaluation of alternatives, which may involve the use of the manager's experience or statistical techniques to determine the probability of success of each alternative. On the seventh step, the manager chooses the best alternative. Here the manager selects the alternative that has the highest chance of succeeding based on results of the analysis and the desired objectives. Finally, there is implementation of the chosen alternative, whereby the manager gives directions on how the decision is to be carried out. It calls for the manager to have persuasive and managerial abilities to implement the decision successfully (Daft, Murphy & Willmott, 2010).

Managers are sometimes unable to follow the ideal procedure while making decisions due to various reasons. These include time pressure whereby some problems need quick decisions and therefore cannot be solved through the lengthy process. On other occasions, the decisions to be made may be so many that the manager may not afford to go through the laborious procedure in solving each of them. In spite of these challenges, managers often use this model when there is less competition and when the issues at hand are well-understood (Donaldson, 1982).


It is clear that both ordinary and extraordinary management can co-exist in an organization. However, the management should be able to identify the type of problems that are facing the organization so that they are able to determine the best approach to use in tackling the problem. This is because each approach has its adverse effects. Therefore, any wrong use or excessive use of any of them, will automatically cancel the benefits it can bring to an organization. This means that through ordinary management, efficiency and order can be promoted. On the other hand, creativity and good relationships can be promoted through extraordinary management.

A rational model is a management approach that uses systematic steps in the decision-making process. It is assumes that when a manager follows the steps he or she will arrive a decision, which if implemented will add the most value to the organization. However, the use of this approach is limited by some challenges that face managerial decisions. This includes time constraints, whereby some decisions need quick action. Therefore, the manager can avoid the approach because it takes longer time and is laborious.