Simulation and Object Technology LO9924
Thu, 12 Sep 1996 12:59:39 -0400

Subject line shortened by your host.
Doug's was "Simulation and Object Technology unifies LO, IT, BPR"

This message (my first to this list) is a call for participants in a
discussion of the synergy to be found in the intersection of
three disciplines: Learning Organizations (LO), Information
Technology (IT), and Business Process Reengineering (BPR).

As an IT professional dissatisfied with rampant mediocrity and the
general failure of IT to achieve its potential, I began a personal
quest six years ago to discover my true vocation. After years of
reading books in several disciplines, I (along with several respected
IT authors) had come to the conclusion that BPR and IT must be
practiced as a joint discipline for either to succeed and that the
unifying paradigm is object technology (aka, object-orientation).

But, as Senge says, my stool only had two legs and I was not satisfied
with it. Then Jon Blunt of The Information Architects Cooperative told
me about The Fifth Discipline and everything clicked into place.
About a year after this, Peter Fingar release his book The Blueprint for
Business Objects which presents the LO/IT/BPR synergy as its central
thesis. Confirmation was sweet indeed! (You can order this book from

I've emphasized simulation over objects in the title of this message
because I thought it would have greater name recognition in the LO
community. Management flight simulators, microworlds, and practice
fields are are all examples of simulation. Object technology is
inseparable from simulation--the first object oriented programming
language was even called Simula.

Those who are not object-literate are encouraged to read two elegant
and very thin books, both by David Taylor: Object-Oriented
Technology: A Manager's Guide and Business Engineering with Object
Technology. But don't wait until you have the books to respond--I'm
too eager to find out who's interested in this topic.

Simulation is practiced by members of all three camps. We've all read
the wonderful stories of the People's Express simulator and the like
in the LO camp. Senge is careful to point out that these simulations
are not predictive, only instructive. They are also dynamically
complex but not necesarily detail complex.

In contrast, the IT community is busy with simulations that are
predictive and detail complex. They could be instructive and are
probably chock-full of dynamic complexity (though not explicitly), but
there is little awareness of this potential. David Taylor wrote me in
a mail message that the next step following instructive and predictive
is generative--learning is feed back to change the model.

The BPR camp is simulating business processes. I'm least familiar with
this work but will hazard an educated guess that these simulations have
something of the flavor of both the IT models and the LO models.
Fingar presents a list of BPR simulation tools which includes iThink
along with others that are more BPR/IT-specific. Many (most?) BPR
simulations are conducted by the process redesign teams as they search
for the correct process. Sounds like a learning lab! I do not believe
that these models commonly feed the software development process (yet).

My suggestion is that these three simulation communities should seek
each other out, learn each other's languages, and work toward a unified
discipline of simulation which incorporates the strengths of all camps
and provides for a single thread of simulation to run throughout the
innovation life cycle as it migrates from LO to BPR to IT and back


Doug Simpson

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <> -or- <>