TQM & LOs LO11399

Michael McMaster (Michael@kbddean.demon.co.uk)
Thu, 12 Dec 1996 02:41:54 +0000

Replying to LO11320 --

Ben, I'm tempted not to respond to your comments because I like to be with
what they say. But I'll plunge into the distinction that I'm working with
and how it relates to your two examples.

Ben responded to the following:
> > Have you included the possibility of saving redundant and even apparently
> > useless information for its later value in recombination?

> > John Holland in his work on complexity and innovation makes the point that
> > we should keep old ineffective rules (even bits of them) around and use
> > them from time to time just to see if they add to the current mix. Just
> > because they weren't of top functionality in some other environment
> > doesn't mean they won't be now.

Ben said:
> I see benefit in doing this, but I also see some danger as well. Excuse
> the long examples, but I think they're quite pertinent.

The first example Ben gives is where thinking was done which
resulted, for good current reasons, in arriving at a limit of 250
users. He then "complains" that this RESULT persists far beyond when
the original thinking and current circumstances justify it.

This is a case of not taking Holland's point of chunking down the
original work, saving the chunks (analysis, circumstance information,
etc) and then from time to time returning to the chunks rather than
the larger chunk solution. It is also a frequently repeated
condition because the general principle is not understood.

Ben's second case is "the opposite" where an approach that worked was
cancelled for circumstantial reasons and the knowledge was lost

This is not really an opposite case but the other side of failure to
understand the same principle. That is, information which did not
survive is to be saved and revisted from time to time. New
circumstances - a new manager, an organisational change,
technological change, competition - may now have a place for the
original idea or at least some part of it.

The challenge is to understand the principle and then to design
processes, practices or structures that have that principle be put
into action in some intentional, designed way.

In the first instance, the practice may be that anything considered
to be "true" is to be challenged if it has been around for more than
x months and/or if the source of its "truth" is no longer known.

In the second instance, the practice may be to register ideas that
survived an incubation threshold and to revisit them with the
originators and others (ie. a new group in a new environment) every
x months.

While these examples of practices are just off the top of my head, I
think they demonstrate that the theory can be put into practice in a
not too onerous way.

Michael McMaster :   Michael@kbdworld.com
"I don't give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity 
but I'd die for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." 
            attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes 

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