Life in Organizations LO9705

Julie Beedon (
Tue, 03 Sep 1996 09:05:16

Replying to LO9688 --

Couple of things poppoed for me as I read Rol's thoughts on this

* are we in danger of becoming too linear in our view of this ??
_ I have seen a nice model of the 'life cycle' of work (systems,
processes and probably organisations) which shows them as starting
off really creating value then moving to merely add value through
simple utility and then into needing to be eliminated - alongside
this runs the time and technolgoy treadmill which pushes the most
creative back along the cycle. I can relate to that as a model
at one level of experience but still wonder if its value relies on
the high created value of things in the first place - there may be
a mixture orginally?

>This is similar to and complementary to what I was describing. Having
>devleoped many systems and processes, it is quite clear that the old 80/20
>rule nearly always prevails.

* to the extent that systems and processes are 'designed' then
this makes a lot of sense - I could relate it immediately to my
experiences of things like IT - then in trying to think this into
the arena of 'life in organisations' I struggled ... possibly
because they are rarely designed... but then I suppose there were
some original creators etc... who

> understood its strengths and
>weaknesses, and they -- strengths and weaknesses -- were aligned with the
>pressing needs

>First, the system is probably still doing what it was designed to do.

and what once created value for people (vinyl records springs to
mind here) no longer does...

>Second, what it was designed to do is less relevant and pressing than it
>used to be.

... so is this saying that the things which drove the compromises
and were really issues of the day are no longer recognised by
people ...?

> Third, new pressing needs have arisen, and the system does not
>take them into account.

and presumably the old compromises look ridiculous in the face of
these much more relevant issues??

> Fourth, the new people see the new pressing
>needs, but are unfamiliar with the history. 'ALL' they see is
>that the system does not work as it should. The new people view the
>old system as a faulty one, sometimes blaming the old people for
>creating it. they do not, and because they do not know the
>history, cannot understand where the roots of the old system came

OK - so it sounds like the strategy in the face of this would be to
begin any change effort/transformation with the 'new' people and the
'old' people getting together and reviewing the history?? (Like they
do in a Future Search?)

>On the other hand, the old people some times get into the rigid position
>of defending the old system at all costs. They built it, and they feel
>ownership. These people are unable to learn from their experiences, and
>see that needs have changed.

Are they really unable to learn - or do they find themselves
criticised so often in the exchange that it stretches their ability
to exercise personal mastery (build a new vision and be honest
about current reality) If they were able to talk about the
compromises they 'knowingly' made and identify the factors which
drove them at the time could they make space for the new factors
and new 'compromises' which are needed in the system (I feel a
process coming on here.. )

>No one ever built it to be dysfunctional, it just aged into disrepair.

and we could say the same of the 'management fads' we sometimes
talk about on this list ..

which also makes me wonder if the added dynamic in all of this is
that as well as the original design compromises we them make
implementation compromises and do not implement what we designed
.... etc etc...

Julie Beedon
VISTA Consulting - for a better future


Julie Beedon <>

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