Conceptual management is process of working through tough situations in order to come up with a well-developed plan before starting a project. This is one of the four main skill sets used in management, along with technical, political and interpersonal. Unlike the other skills, conceptual management is extremely difficult to learn from another person; it is generally considered more of a personal trait than a learned skill. The focus of this skill set is creating plans that will allow teams to work efficiently, before a project is even started.
The main portion of conceptual management is looking at a situation and figuring out a way to break it down into manageable pieces. When a project is in its infancy, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the upcoming choices and work. The conceptual manager’s job is to look over that pile of tasks and information and lay it out in a clear and organized manner.
Like many management and business concepts, the most important part of conceptual management is information. The more information the manager has, the easier it is to make correct decisions. Unlike other forms of management, a conceptual manager is always accounting for information that is impossible to know. Since the majority of this skill takes place in the future, the manager needs to account for the unforeseen. Using existing information, it is possible to predict what some of the unexpected things may be and plan accordingly.
This is just one of the four common management skill sets. The other three deal with other aspects of management, and they all come together to make a full picture. Technical skills are the information-based abilities that relate to the form of management performed; basically, if a manager oversees a shipping department, he knows about shipping. Political skills are personality-based skills that are applied outside of the workplace to secure resources for the manager to use. The third skill set, interpersonal, involves skills related to dealing with workers in the workplace.
Unlike other common management skill sets, conceptual management is a difficult skill to teach. In many manager’s minds, conceptual thinking is something they either have or don’t, and training will only get them so far. When working on improving conceptual skills, the most common method is simply doing it. Situations are devised and the manager is required to work through them to an adequate conclusion. With time and practice, it is possible to improve.