Although a good many leadership and management principles and practices apply broadly, the critical functions of an organization, that is those activities and functions that must be outstanding and productive for an organization to succeed, vary and require more customized approaches. For example, in a manufacturing organization, being the lowest cost producer is critical and management must focus on limiting costs across the board, from the nature of the facilities used, compensation practices, plant downtime, sales practices and so on. Additionally, safety, reproducibility and consistency are critical. In contrast, in an organization that depends on innovation, cost per discovery matter, but far less than the number and quality of innovations.
Workforces also differ significantly depending on the key functions of an organization and those differences demand different approaches. Many of the modern approaches to management began during the industrial revolution and were geared to maximizing the productivity of assembly lines. Though those approaches have evolved to better motivate workers by enriching their daily activities, a manufacturing workforce differs dramatically from an organization committed to innovation. At the opposite end of the spectrum from manufacturing is the type of workforce involved in new drug discovery R&D. In such a workforce, essentially all employees are college graduates, and a remarkable proportion are people who have invested in earning PhDs, MDs and MD PhD degrees. They differ in knowledge, motivation and approach to work and life from a person who works on an assembly line and the leadership and management approaches that are successful respond to the unique nature of that workforce.