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90 Degree Rotation

The figure below shows a 3 group system that efficiently transforms a stream of raw inputs into a stream of valued outputs (they’re valued because customers want to pay for them) via the application of talent, knowledge, and skill. In this system, since all groups are on the same horizontal plane of importance, negative feedback channels are embraced, and hence, the information that flows within them blunts the rate of increase in entropy while providing a source of reflective learning.

Now, let’s introduce vertical levels of “perceived importance” by rotating the system in the clockwise direction by 90 degrees:

So, you ask “why were those red verboten x’s introduced during the rotation? “. I put them there because once people start perceiving that the levels above are more important than them, they stop giving negative feedback – even when the inputs they’re given to work with turn into POPs over time. After all, if someone/group is perceived as more important than someone else, the “someone else” is likely to think that whatever they’re given as an input to work with must be good – regardless of its real quality.

Now, let’s introduce a culture of fear (which usually goes hand-in-hand with hierarchical levels of importance) into the system:

So, you ask “why were those feedback loops to “self” crossed out? “. You see, when a sub-group is an integral part in a fearful hierarchy of importance, it doesn’t critically evaluate its own work and it covers up mistakes – lest it be perceived as unworthy for promotion to the next higher level of importance by those in said level.

As startups grow, unless their founders exert Herculean force to prevent it, they start rotating to the right. The rate of rotation is often so sloooow that no one notices it until it’s too late . The feedback loops are broken, product/service quality erodes, and the fit hits the shan. D’oh! I hate when that happens. Don’t you?

  1. September 1, 2011 at 2:20 am

    Just wanted to say HI. I found your blog a few days ago on Technorati and have been reading it over the past few days.

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