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Keystone Koppers

Here’s just one entertaining excerpt from Bill Livingston’s darkly insightful and mind-bending book, “D4P4D“:

The key word in the whole excerpt is “mismatch“. When there is a “match“, all is well, and “business as usual” gets the job done effectively and efficiently.

So, whadya think? Fearful fact? Funny fiction? A touch of both?

  1. June 13, 2012 at 5:08 am

    Fact. Ackoff made the distinction between types of systems based on deterministic vs. choice.

    A deterministic system with deterministic parts can strive for optimized processes with this “match” quality. The role of each part is known and fixed, as are the nature and sequence of collaborations. Shell Oil has a well-defined, controlled process for refining crude oil into gasoline. It’s fundamentally the same today as yesterday. Deviations are the exception, not the rule, because the process always creates 87 octane regulat, not diesel.

    Organizations, on the other hand, are purposeful systems and its parts (employees, managers, executives) exercise choice. There is no set process, only guidelines and continual adjustments. This is both a strength (agility and adaptability) and a weakness (chaos, miscommunication, “right hand not knowing what the left is doing”).

    Common purpose, mission, vision, culture, communication, mental models, etc. can be helpful to address this, with the emphasis on *can*. But to do so, people in the organization must choose to make them that way, individually and collectively. Championship teams in sports like football, soccer, basketball and hockey make this choice. So do jazz bands. However, size, scope, and massive variability make this extremely difficult in most companies, except for small startups.

    • June 13, 2012 at 5:26 am

      Thanks for the, as usual, great input CA.

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