Life in Organizations LO9754

Rol Fessenden (76234.3636@CompuServe.COM)
05 Sep 96 00:29:34 EDT

Replying to LO9705 --

Julie responds to an earlier note from me on the aging into dysfunction of

I pointed out that the aging system is probably still doing what it was
designed to do, and Julie correctly identified the manufacture of vinyl
records as a good example.

However, when I say that what it is now doing is less relevant than it
used to be, she wonders if that is like saying that the original
compromises in the system development are no longer recognized by people.

If I understand you correctly, the answer is no, it is instead that life
has changed the rules of the game. Vinyl records are simply no longer
relevant because we have found a better way. Five years ago I designed a
system that is still recognized as best in its class for its purpose.
however, it is designed to be used by one department, and now we
understand something we simply did not understand then. Systems to be
really effective need to process-oriented rather than functionally
oriented. This system could probably not have been better than it was at
the time because there was no knowledge that told us to build
process-oriented systems. Now, however, we have new knowledge, and we
could in principle build a much better system. We were trapped by If's
memes, I think, but certainly we were trapped by our mental models. As a
side note, if we had suggested a cross-functional system five years ago,
people would have thought we were crazy. there was not impetus for that
kind of system then, and the organization would not have known how to put
it to use.


Rol Fessenden LL Bean, Inc.

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