Alfred Sloan was the first to manage decentralised divisions ‘by the numbers’. He demanded detailed reports on a variety of measures (e.g. revenue, market-share, inventory, costs, etc.) and made these numbers the subject of management reviews.

New professions – finance and marketing – were developed to work alongside production, each had its own measures to work to.

Working this way solved the problem that Sloan was confronted with – how to create order in a seemingly complex group of organisation structures. It was not apparent at that time that ‘working to the numbers’ would itself be a cause of sub-optimisation.