Re: Organizational Integration LO1259

Wed, 17 May 1995 07:30:05 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO1231 --

Jim talked about the operation of simplifying or summarizing information,
and talked about possible formalization of that. Also he said he had some
trouble with this concept.

I would like to combine a "story" with some data that may illustrate the
point in a rather complex situation. In so doing, it's worth while to
suppose that it may be easier to cut down the size and scope of a
situation to adapt it to a lesser issue than it is to take a solution to a
simple issue and somehow adapt it to a much more complex one.

Under the leadership of Professor Henry Alberts of the Defense Systems
Management College, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a six-year project was carried
out, involving several hundred experienced program managers, a few a t
that this project has succeeded, as evidenced by the adoption of
essentially all its recommendations in the DEFENSE ACQUISITION
STREAMLINING ACT OF 1994, it's possible to look back and deal with some of
the specifics. Here are some things that relate to Jim's comments:

Process used: Interactive Management (see my 1994 book, Iowa State
University Press)

Number of Interactive Management Workshops Held: 28

Number of problems identified with defense acquisition: 678

Number of categories (dimensions) of the system within which these 678
problems were grouped (using the computer-assisted IM process): 20

Number of broad areas within which the 20 categories were grouped: 5
(Also used the formality of the IM processes)

Number of functions required to progress form ideas to
prototype systems: 108

Number of functional categories for the 108 functions: 7

Number of the 678 problems that the redesigned system would
resolve: 612 (91%)

Number of remaining unresolved problems: 66

There is a lot more to this story, such as what kinds of problems remain
unresolved and why, but let me focus on Jim's question.

The key to the summarization (as achieved here in going from problem set
to dimensions to areas) is a well-designed, faithfully followed, formal
process based in DeMorgan's Theory of Relations, as instrumented in
Interpretive Structural Modeling software. With this help, a group of
people can carry out the reductions, without throwing away their
fundamentals, so you can trace all the way back and forth from the set of
5 to the set of 678, etc., etc.

The gory details will all be available soon, assuming that Prof. Alberts
passes his "viva" at City University, London, to be held in July, after
which his dissertation will explain the whole business.

Now for some philosophical stuff.

It was Alexander Pope who wrote well about systems thinking when he said:

"In wit, as nature, what affects our hearts is not th' exactness of
peculiar parts; 'tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call, but the joint
force and full result of all."

And in regards to summarizing that doesn't connect with full referential
transparency back to the in-depth concepts, William James wrote:

"Any question can be made immaterial by subsuming all its answers under a
common head...The sovereign road to indifference, whether to evils or to
goods, lies in the thought of the higher genus."

To paraphrase, in Warfield's language: "we live in an age of metaphor
salesmen", in which metaphors cannot be linked back to the in-depth
knowledge that underpins them by most of the peddlers.

Or, to quote Heinz von Forster's First Law:

"The more the complexity that is ignored, the greater the prospects for
fame and fortune."