Conversational Paradigm LO5657

William J. Hobler, Jr. (
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 17:26:40 -0500

Replying to LO5597 --

Our insightful host asked
>On the more direct point, I'm very curious about how the language/action
>models are useful. They make sense to me looking backwards at
>conversations, and it does make sense to me to be clear about what is a
>request and to be clear in saying "OK, I'm satisfied with that" but in my
>limited attempts to apply them, they have always felt too rigid, too
>constraining, too inhibiting.

My experience too. I have been party to attempts to implement the
workflow software system based on the Flores & Winograd model. The
software works, the people disliked it, morale fell, the system was
circumvented. When these projects were analyzed the conclusion was that
the software was too rigid, people felt distrusted. This experience is 8
or 9 years old, perhaps the software has changed and become less rigid.

I know of only one place that rigid action -- commitment language is used
with great success. In the nuclear power generation environment all
directives to change the status of a power plant are given, repeated,
confirmed and committed, accomplished, reported and acknowledged. When
this was first introduced into the Navy we operators resented it, 'they
don't trust us' (They - Admiral Rickhover, Us - submarine sailors). But
it did reduce errors and the possible consequences of errors in running a
nuclear power plant are too severe to ignore any way of reducing errors.

IMHO, in the context of a learning organization this rigid structure has
very limited application.

----- ( William J. Hobler, Jr.) Bill -----

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