Re: Sustainable Advantage LO1943 & 1872

Mulligan, Margie (MMulligan@OS.Varian.COM)
Wed, 05 Jul 95 11:19:00 PDT

Replying to LO1872 --

I understand the frustration expressed by both of you...and I have a
question to ask. It is my personal assumption that the feeling of
frustration reflects powerlessness. And powerlessness comes from not
being able to communicate and be heard. If that is true... What is needed
when we face this kind of situation in today's market (for what other
reason do we reflect on the past if not to learn how to avoid it's
problems in the future)? Does the learning organization and its five
disciplines offer any hope to avoid this kind of powerlessness again?

I have a couple of questions that include some suggestions:

1. What could be done to change the "screaming" since it generally
doesn't work to get the message across to the top executives who, after
all, were just people trying to survive in a business where changes were
happening too fast for them. (Doesn't screaming just provoke more fear?)

2. For some of the people who could could a power base be
developed to create a forum where learning could occur (e.g., a learning
lab, systems modeling, etc.)?

3. Where could mental models be explored, perhaps by using something such
as the "strategic planning as learning" concept so successful at Shell?

4. Could employees who see the "new voice of the customer" develop
systems models and ask their senior executives to test its assumptions and
refine it to help understand the current situation?

It seems that both the LO Field Manual and the new book edited by Chawla
and Renech both hold powerful ideas for new approaches. I've tapped only
a few...of the top of my head. Both these books have been magical for
me...prompting new creative ideas

I like the metaphor of the "crack" test pilot who just keeps on trying
something new...even as he/she is heading down...perhaps to a crash...and
has the attitude "maybe this one will help" about each new approach tried.

Good luck with the next approach.

From: learning-org-approval
To: learning-org
Subject: Re: Sustainable Advantage LO1872
Date: Thursday, June 29, 1995 12:18PM

Replying to LO1840 and 1872

in which Michal McMaster says (in part, about IBM's responses)...

>> They failed to investigate new routs, new
>> possibilities, even though the market was screaming those possibilities
>> out!

and in which Carol Ogden says (in part, about IBM's responses)

>> I can assure you that the "screaming" was loud and clear, at the center
>>in Armonk). But, because they were swayed principally by the $$$'s
>>at stake in the mainframe business, a vast amount of executive effort
>>went into corrupting the raw market data, denying its relevance,
>>and seeking corroboration from their existing, large, mainframe
>>customers. Those customers, who'd built their careers on mainframes
>>and dumb terminals perceived the PC as an irritation, and hopefully
>>a minor one. Those customers (in the mid-80s) didn't want to become
>>obsolete in their own time. Had IBM truly listened BEYOND their own
>>customer's mindset, they would have heard the "screaming" in the
>>marketplace. Just look at the tremendous growth in PCs, IBM's eroding
>>PC share, and the emergence of Novell in that time-frame. It took a
>>*massive* amount of effort--having *heard* the "screaming"--to deny
>>its existance...

>>I don't know how many meetings I attended in that period at which
>>I saw young, bright people shouting "The Emperor's wearing NO
>>clothes..." and watched their careers self-destruct before my eyes.
>>And the early departures from IBM into Amdahl took many of those
>>habits along. As recently as two years ago in conversations
>>with Amdahl executives they were effectively denying that PCs were
>>a significant force eroding their marketplace ('tho that appears
>>to be changing now).

"Mulligan, Margie" <MMulligan@OS.Varian.COM>