LO and Western Thought LO7537

Wed, 22 May 1996 08:03:17 -0400

Replying to LO7515 --

Terry passes along a posting that discusses whether "current management
learning skills and attitudes to learning may prove a significant barrier
to this countries capacity to develop a sustainable LO culture".

I want to mention some literature that illustrates the points made in the

(1) G. R. Bushe (1988), "Cultural Contradictions of Statistical Process
Control in American Manufacturing Process Organizations", Journal of
Management 14(1), 19-31.

Bushe offers a case study of attempts to introduce Statistical Process
Control in an American manufacturing organization where, at the outset,
conditions seemed to be ideal. After a couple of years, when it was
evident that the effort had broken down, Bushe set for the explanations
for the failure. In abbreviated form, the problem was that management
could not imagine the thought that some time had to be allocated for
workers to think.

This paper is an eye opener that illustrates perfectly the point that the
questioning student was trying to make, using a real situation.

(2) F. Brooks (1987) (Chair), "Report of the Defense Science Board on
Military Software, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for
Acquisition", Washington, D. C. 20301, September, 1987 (and a later paper
by the same author "No Silver Bullet").

This report was requested to try to find out what productivity was so poor
in defense software acquisition, and what science could do to help with
this situation.

The report, submitted 3 years after the request was made (illustrating the
low productivity of software types), essentially said that science had
nothing to offer software development that would significantly affect
productivity. On the other hand, it offered the usual solution which is
to reorganize, re-engineer, move people around, etc., etc.

I was so disgusted with the whole tone of this report that I was moved to
write a paper titled "Technomyopia Threatens our National Security".
Unfortunately, my paper had no effect.

Anyway if you want to see a mind set that is illustrative of what the
student was worried about, get this report and study it carefully.

By the way, the so-called "science board" did not appear to have any
scientists on it, but rather technologists who grew up in a hubris-filled
environment, calculated to reinforce whatever native hubris could be
brought to the table; and the continuing adulation heaped on the people
who have brought the software industry to its current state of a curious
mix of added capability along with virtually total indifference to the
abuse of people by technology, threatens to sustain that kind of mentality
long into the 21st century.

John N. Warfield



Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>