System Cannot Understand Itself LO6070

Scott R. Cypher (
Sat, 9 Mar 1996 10:53:57 -0400

Replying to LO6044 --

>>But that's my problem. I
>>believe that the model of objectivity versus subjectivity gives us
>>a real advantage in improving systems.
>Scott, I hope you will consider your problem to be dissolved. The key to
>it is to stop believing that the model of objectivity versus subjectivity
>gives us a real advantage in improving systems. On the contrary, that
>model is one of the fundamental obstacles in the way of improving systems.

While I believe in the model of objectivity, it is an obstacle to getting
an answer to "how do you know?" about a system. The desire and demand for
the facts before making changes to a system could be this fundamental
obstacle john refers to.

Another issue is what constitutes objectivity? Every measurement has some
degree or type of bias. With concepts such as the heisenberg uncertainty
principle we must question the assumption that you can separate the
observer from the observed (an uncoupled system) and therefore create and
objective view. The reality is even the most empirical data is
subjective, measuring an indicator presumed to be connected to a latent
construct. We are unable at this point to "know" or be objective about
the most constructs, because they are latent. What we can do is manage
the degree of subjectivity that exists, and be aware of how that
subjectivity affects our ability to make decisions that have utility for
improving the system.

Given this, I see one reason a system cannot understand itself is the fact
its components are strongly coupled themselves, and any subset of these
components cannot create the detachment of observer and observed required
for objectivity. Bringing in someone/thing with little coupling to the
system (consultant, MBNQA type assessment team) is closer to objectivity
than most systems are capable of.

-- (Scott R. Cypher)

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