Ohmae's Key success factors LO11799

Myers, Kent (myers@carsoninc.com)
Fri, 10 Jan 1997 18:09:35 -0500

Replying to LO11731 --

also to LO11766

I appreciate Virginia Shafer going back to sweep up the other questions
Malcolm Jones, Lurker, said some important things that move on to the
other questions.

Paraphrasing, Malcolm says that we can't really understand the bigger
system, and that systems thinking, just like key thinking, might be no
more than a reassuring fiction. If we get a visible local improvement, it
may not be a global improvement at all. We can argue about whether key
thinking or systems thinking is more reliable in finding local
improvements, but we may be hurting ourselves globally, and neither kind
of thinking will tell us.

The question is: what do you do when you can't link current actions to
global success? The system is indeterministic, but our methods are
deterministic, which we conveniently forget because it is so reassuring to
work in a second reality where there are answers.

Malcolm offers a bit of strategy for an indeterministic system: improve at
a low level and then adapt the approach as the system responds. This is
what the military has come up with also. When you are in combat and are
completely disoriented, do something rather than nothing. You are more
likely to get feedback by which you can discover a direction to take, you
are more mobile if you stay mobile, and you are less likely to lose the
will to fight (and if you do that you will surely perish). You actually
know more than this: you know that certain strengths and capabilities are
generally useful, and so you can build these potentials, so that they are
ready to use when you know more. You are engaged in an infinite game, as
John O'Neil has mentioned, and the objective is to keep playing. The
complexity guys will say that things tend to develop, you know not what,
and so you should throw in a few small germs/sparks and keep working them.

Is this indeterministic/complexity thinking? It's better than systems
dynamics -- it depends on definitions whether you still call it systems
thinking. You do, I suppose, fall back on indicators again without a
specific picture of the system, but from a more sophisticated position.
Your indicators are of potential, variety of activity, and responsiveness
in play with the system. Those indicators don't match the key success
factors that you typically find.

Kent Myers myersk@us.net
Alexandria, Virginia


"Myers, Kent" <myers@carsoninc.com>

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