William James "Bill" Reddin was one of the world's leading behavioural scientists and a management guru with 23 books to his name, many of them bestsellers. He has changed the face of management style, and some of his books ‘The Output Orientated Manager’ and ‘Managerial Styles Made Effective’ were translated into more than a dozen languages. Such a distinguished future could hardly have been predicted from his beginnings.
The son of a show-business father, Bill was born in London and attended 10 different schools between the ages of five and 14, before leaving to work in a factory. Here he earned enough money to emigrate to Canada and join his married sister. After working his way through college, he graduated in psychology, sociology and economics at the University of New Brunswick. Reddin always maintained these were his main disciplinary interests. Following an MBA from Harvard Business School, he took a Sloan doctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and then a PhD at Bradford University.
Bill Reddin was influenced at MIT by Douglas McGregor, who wrote the classic book ‘The Human Side Of Enterprise’. He had distinguished between the "theory-x manager", who concentrated on productivity, and the "theory-y manager", whose main concern was for people.
Bill's own work on managerial style and managerial situations led him towards style flexibility with the aim of "effectiveness". By realising that a third dimension of management behaviour should be used. By closer analyses of different management styles Bill invented the now famous 3-D management model. For Bill there was no one ideal style of management. He would argue that "you must match style to situation". Academic interest in the managerial styles of the 3-D theory was huge, with more than 50 doctoral dissertations on the subject in the USA alone.
Bill Reddin was appointed Dean of the University of New Brunswick Business School, and rapidly his home became an open house for students and scholars alike. After 17 years as a leading academic, he left that world to put his action-orientated ideas into practice through his own training and consultancy firm, ‘WJ Reddin and Associates’.
His clients include some of America's leading multi-nationals - Kodak, Westinghouse and Ford - and Bill developed considerable expertise in designing seminars and managerial tests, which proved increasingly popular as training methods to achieve increased manager effectiveness.
Bill would insist that the only job of a manager was to be "effective", a role defined by him as "meeting the output requirements of his position". Of standards of performance he was forthright in declaring his adage that "if you can't measure it, forget it, because no one will know anyway". He suggested that managers should strive to reach the point where they "whistle on the way to work".
One of his most frequent pieces of advice to the top person in an organisation was to “get rid of his / her desk”. When the owner of an air-conditioning firm took him at his word, Bill was pleased to learn that the firm's profits doubled two years in succession. A typical condition of his worldwide contracts was that clients should set aside part of their fee to enable an independent Masters student to monitor the assignment. "It keeps us both honest," Bill would say.
Bill gave his best to many charities, including a suicide lifeline and conservation trusts. He has filled his London flat with prisoners' art, bought to encourage their reintegration.
William James 'Bill' Reddin, behavioural scientist and management expert, 1930 - 1999