Learning to Model LO5417

Wed, 7 Feb 1996 09:04:54 -0600

Replying to 50382 --
Michael McMaster wrote:
>I modify what John said about "a problem is someone's perception of
>something." The problems that organisations are dealing with (and
>that IM is applicable to) are problems of communities. That is,
>there are no personal, individual problems of much interest to
>organisations. I suggest that something occurs as a "problem" for an
>organisation as it appears in the conversations of the communities
>involved. They are matters of perception, as John says, but not
>merely personal perception.

It seems to me that a chronic occurrence with organizations with more than
one level of hierearchy comes down to some sort of mis-alignment of the
(excuse me) -vision- of those various levels. That is, each level has a
different perspective of what constitutes the 'content' of the problem and
what constitutes the 'context' of the problem -- what is 'given' and what
is 'under our control'. This happens frequently in the construction of

So if I happen to sit in an organization at some remove from the ultimate
customers of the organization, I have to keep several things in mind.
+ I have some accountability to the organization, and it has some
accountability to me.
+ I -have- to understand that ultimate customer, or my chances of
genuinely adding some value to the organization shrink dramatically.
+ My ability to continue to grow within that organization (and
demonstrate -employability-) depends on that understanding.
+ If I don't understand how I relate to that customer, the burden is on
my to figure it out, not on higher levels in the organization to tell me.
(W. E. Demming: "Everybody here has a customer. And if he doesn't know
who it is and what constitutes the needs of the customer . . . then he
does not understand his job.")

I remember quite clearly getting called up on this some years ago when I
worked for a large retail store chain. In a meeting concerning the
results of the annual employee survey, I commented to the vice president
of information services that some of us (read -me-) felt like we were in
the -information- industry not the -retail- industry. His stinging and
pointed retort: "As long as your check each month says *** Stores, you
are in the retail industry. And you had better understand that."

Michael A
Michael Ayers
mbayers@mmm.com        (612) 733-5690      FAX (612) 737-7718
IT Education Svcs/3M Center 224-2NE-02/PO Box 33224/St Paul MN 55133-3224
- Ideas in this note only represent the author's attempt at thinking and
- certainly do not represent the positions of anyone else in the galaxy.

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