Dealing with Complexity LO7553

Keith Cowan (72212.51@CompuServe.COM)
22 May 96 15:02:03 EDT

Replying to LO7476 --

Gordon Housworth <> presents
a very meaty post with the following <snipped>:

>Process subversion is, to my mind, linked to perceived rational choices
>and risk assessment.

>I've spent time in VC (Venture Capital) backed firms, and raised venture
>capital for both startups and restarts so have a window into that mindset.
>...No VC sets out to lose money, to throw away their investment, yet only
>some 5 - 6% of investments generate the fabled 40 to 1 return, some 5 - 7%
>merely "wash" or return their initial investment, and the balance goes
>down the round clay pipe. ..
>I've watched professors scheme and position themselves no less
>intently for a minor research stipend numbering in the hundreds, or a mere
>trip to a convention....Until stakeholders have additional
>**believable** options, i.e., modify their behavior, perceiving those new
>options as having less risk and more chance of success than the historic
>choices, process subversion is the rule rather than the exception. The
>consultant or manager that fails to understand the interests and needs of
>their stakeholder groups is flogging a dead horse, or certainly a very
>inefficient or loss-plagued one.

Numerous behavioural experiences tend to reinforce this need for self-
supportive behaviour. Executives in game-playing simulations are often
amazed at their short-sighted behaviour in the game, yet return to work
thinking "I'm OK - that was an artificial situation".

If we believe your post, Gordon, and I certainly do, then we might expect
that behaviour will not change until there is some fundamental change in
the "system" of assessing success in leading organizations, because each
person in a position of influence will "sub-optimize" their behaviour to
the specific situation at hand.

What changes must be made in what "system" to make LO behaviour more


Keith Cowan <72212.51@CompuServe.COM>

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