Posts Tagged ‘structure’

Full Redundancy

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

2 lungs, 2 kidneys, 2 arms, 2 legs, 2 ears, 2 eyes, 2 nose holes. 1 brain, 1 heart, 1 liver, 1 pancreas, 1 output-only port (mostly). Why didn’t nature provide us with full redundancy for all vital body parts? Why create a semi fault-tolerant system with multiple single points of failure?

Structure And Work

October 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Under the inescapable second law of thermodynamics, fragmentation and dis-integration are natural consequence of organizational growth over time. Real leaders respect and arrest the destructive power of the second law by conscientiously applying structure and work to keep the org intact and aligned toward a higher purpose. All cookie cutter managers know how to design and impose structure. Hell, that’s the easy part because you could look one up in the standard hierarchical patterns handbook (which has only one page and one pattern – the command and control hierarchy where the kahunas at the top rule over the kingdom and ignore input from everyone else).Entropy

The “work” is the hard part. Unlike leaders, managers hate work and they’ll do anything, no matter how harmful it is to the org, to avoid it while feigning that they’re bustin’ their butt to “get things done”. Thus, after unveiling his/her latest masterpiece corpo structure, which is always an insignificant¬† hierarchical tweak, he/she “abdicates” the day-to-day work of keeping the fragments in harmony to…….. “others”.


So, what is the “work” part of the powerful, entropy-arresting, work+structure dynamic duo? It’s a continuous and active “sampling the value stream” and a continuous monitoring of the interfaces and interactions between the org fragments to sense signals of disintegration. Without doing the work part, performance will not improve, and of course, it will deteriorate further; triggering yet another round of restructuring to “meet the changing needs of our customers”. Bummer.

Yin And Yang

Structure And The “ilities”

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

In nature, structure is an enabler or disabler of functional behavior. No hands – no grasping, no legs – no walking, no lungs – no living. Adding new functional components to a system enables new behavior and subtracting components disables behavior. Changing the arrangement of an existing system’s components and how they interconnect can also trade-off qualities of behavior, affectionately called the “ilities“. Thus, changes in structure effect changes in behavior.

The figure below shows a few examples of a change to an “ility” due to a change in structure. Given the structure on the left, the refactored structure on the right leads to an increase in the “ility” listed under the new structure. However, in moving from left to right, a trade-off has been made for the gain in the desired “ility”. For the monolithic->modular case, a decrease in end-to-end response-ability due to added box-to-box delay has been traded off. For the monolithic->redundant case, a decrease in buyability due to the added purchase cost of the duplicate component has been introduced. For the no feedback->feedback case, an increase in complexity has been effected due to the added interfaces. For the bowl->bottle example, a decrease in fill-ability has occurred because of the decreased diameter of the fill interface port.


The plea of this story is: “to increase your aware-ability of the law of unintended consequences”. What you don’t know CAN hurt you. When you are bound and determined to institute what you think is a “can’t lose” change to a system that you own and/or control, make an effort to discover and uncover the ilities that will be sacrificed for those that you are attempting to instill in the system. This is especially true for socio-technical systems (do you know of any system that isn’t a socio-technical system?) where the influence on system behavior by the technical components is always dwarfed by the influence of the components that are comprised of groups of diverse individuals.

Structure, Work, Entropy

August 19, 2009 Leave a comment

Entropy can be interpreted as a measure of chaos, or disorder. The second law of thermodynamics asserts that entropy increases with the passage of time. Tick, tock, tick, tock. The universe is constantly but surely on the move toward randomness.


As the universe unfolds in a  continuous and creative dance, it temporarily suspends its own law of increasing entropy. It spontaneously forms new structures while others are simultaneously disintegrating.

As human beings, we are of the universe and thus, we also possess the awesome power to create. It takes structure plus work to create and, maybe more importantly, sustain something of value. The best we can do is temporarily arrest the growth in entropy by applying structure and performing the work required to keep the structures that we create in tact. Eventually, the inexorable rise in entropy wins and our creations disintegrate. It is what it is.

Structure Plus Work


May 17, 2009 1 comment

This tree below is my personal creation. You’re tree would likely be different than my tree. Nature creates perfect trees. Man tends to destroy nature’s trees and to create arbitrary artificial trees to suit his needs. Man must create, either consciously or unconsciously, conceptual trees to make sense of the world. How attached are you to your trees? Are your trees THE right trees and are my trees wrong? Are trees created by ‘experts’ the trees that all should unquestionably embrace? Who are the ‘experts’?

Creating the vertical aspect of the tree is called leveling. Creating the horizontal aspect of the tree is called balancing. Leveling and balancing, along with scoping and bounding, are powerful systems analysis and synthesis tools.


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