MBWA Is Alive and Well

BY WARREN D. MILLER

I was stunned to read the following assertion in “Why the Boss Should Take a Walk” ( JofA Mar.01, page 112): “Some years ago a long-forgotten management guru even formulated a management style called Management by Walking Around. The technique never caught on, partly because the words were too prosaic and lacked real pizazz.”

Wrong. Management by Wandering Around (MBWA) has been part of the gospel at Hewlett-Packard since the early 1940s. Bill Hewlett was famous for restlessly prowling shop floors—asking, watching and, especially, listening. MBWA was prominently mentioned by Peters and Waterman in their book In Search of Excellence.

It goes on at many other well-managed companies, too. Any general will tell you that you don’t win wars by avoiding the troops. Any CEO worth her or his salt will tell you the same thing.

It surprises me that you apparently didn’t even run these terms through a cursory Internet check. I ran both MBWAs through Google and got over 200 hits.

If Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard qualify as “long-forgotten management gurus,” then I guess you’re right. Though both are now deceased, neither is forgotten—except in the JofA.

Warren D. Miller, CPA
Lexington, Virginia

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