Why systems fail LO10180

Julie Beedon (julie@vistabee.win-uk.net)
Thu, 26 Sep 1996 10:03:05

Replying to LO10081 --

Ben and Rol have been talking about systems and why they fail:

>> Apparently we cannot stamp out failure because "things" are densely
>> interconnected. Whenever we change one item, we set in motion innumerable
>> other unpredictable changes. Apparently this is a major reason why
>> systems fail.

>And, hence, chaos and complexity theory.
>I'd like to engage in some dialogue about the word "planning."


> practice strategic improvisation instead of strategic planning.
>To achieve this we need to be pragmatically abstract in business planning.
>If we accept, as a good theory, the idea that planning is an emergent
>process, then I think we begin to make some real progress.

There was something about these two notions of 'living with failure' and
'strategic improvisation' which really appealed to me...

* Given that we want to be proactive in world (create/influence the
environment) my sense is that we want/need to do some form of planning...

* We can share information about the world and do that planning with as
large a common database as possible, taking account of the realities
around us *and* being as creative as possible about the possibilities in
the future...

* Once constucted the plan becomes a *theory* - given the data we had this
is the stuff which makes sense to do/be....

* As the plan progresses and new data emerges then we *must* change the

* Plans are not scripts but outlines for the story we want to tell... we
improvise and adapt as the story develops...

* Changes to the plan are never *failures* in this model just emergent
realities ...

* Those who created the plan did not fail - they created what they could
with what they knew...

* Questions to ask - did we obtain/use all the data in our plan? What data
would create a different plan? What data would change our plan?

PS - I am defining data as any form of information... (facts, figures,
feelings, perceptions etc..)

Julie Beedon
VISTA Consulting


Julie Beedon <julie@vistabee.win-uk.net>

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