Studying the details
Mon, 12 Dec 1994 21:54:56 -0500 (EST)

On Nov. 21 Bob Lynch wrote:

"Start with the detailed basics and go through an enlightenment period. Don't
worry about the 'big picture,' that will come later. The 'big picture' will
not be as dramatic to you unless you have the details. It is a great feeling
when yu have spent all the time and effort looking at the trees and then all
of a sudden you realized that you are in a beautiful forest."

I was surprised to read this. Our experience suggests the opposite. We lead
client teams in the redesign of their business operations. The ultimate goal
of our workshops is to generate new ideas. If workshops focus too much on the
details of current operations, the participants have a hard time breaking out
of the box of conventional thinking. Better to start them out thinking about
the overall purpose of their operation and alternative ways to fulfill that

Perhaps Bob Lynch is talking about something different though. He may be
referring to a process you have to go through to develop a systems model like
Peter Senge describes in his book, which is different from the idea-generating
process I was addressing. But if that is the case, I am not sure that
focusing on the details is going to lead to high level systems understanding.
On the other hand, I suppose that if starting out looking at the big picture
does not work, it might be worthwhile to look at some facet of the system in
detail for new insights.

My comments about generating redesign ideas are based on experience, but those
on developing a high-level systems model are just conjecture. Can anyone
bring some experience to this issue?

Dr. Robert S. Polster Phone: 703-379-5700
Richard S. Carson & Associates FAX: 703-379-5707
Mail: 2144 California St., NW Suite 513
Washington, DC 20008