Turbulent economic environments generate changes in the way business is performed. Such turbulence was experienced at the dawning of the 20th century. That turbulence brought demand for expansion in both production and productivity in the United States. At that time, Frederick Taylor had been, since 1875, working on scientific management techniques. These were the techniques that would be used to fulfill that demand for production and productivity.
By 1900, Taylor had commenced work on his book, The Principles of Scientific Management, which was published in 1915. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the world was going through a devastating depression. One company, in particular, was searching for assistance to survive the depression. Studebaker had a monumental problem: insufficient car sales. Studebaker’s management decided the sales group with the assistance of a coach could expand car sales, thus strengthening chances for surviving the devastating depression. Studebaker Corporation was located in South Bend, Indiana, and so was Notre Dame University with a winning football coach.
Studebaker turned to Notre Dame for assistance, and that assistance was found in Knut Rockne. Studebaker negotiated a contract with Rockne on May 1, 1928, to expedite the transformation of car sales. Rockne had been building successful football squads for years; he apparently understood methods and psychology needed to make an organization function. Rockne characterized the manager’s job as that of designating, preparing, guiding, encouraging, and compensating employees. Similarly, he characterized the coach’s job as designating, preparing, guiding, and encouraging football players during the final year, 1932, of Rockne’s life, Studebaker made him head coach of a sales management team.
One manifestation of his coaching strategy was illustrated by the directive that all sales managers of agencies were expected to be competitors for the main string position. In the 1950s, again, a sluggish economy brought demand for assistance to the industrial arena. Successively, articles began appearing in periodicals about the coaching process. One attempt to investigate coaching as a management process was illustrated in the 1958 work of Mace and Mahler.
They envisioned coaching as a deserving and obtainable management skill. In the late 1970s, American corporations began to realize that their market share was being lost, a substantial amount to Japan and assistance was necessary if the market position was to be maintained or regained. Once again, attention shifted to the human resource elements within organizations.