Snowden notes

May 24, 2006

 kids birthday party story

Multi-ontology sense making is about understanding when to use both methods of management outlined in the story, both the structured and ordered approach based on planned outcomes and the un-ordered, emergent approach focused on starting conditions expressed as barriers, attractors and identities.

I loooove this: "The dominant ideology of management inherits from Taylor (1911) a view of the organization based on the necessity and the probity of order. In this world things are deemed to be known or knowable through proper investigation and relationships between cause and effect once discovered repeat. It is the world of the mechanical metaphors of Taylor and most management theorists who came afterwards; it is the Newtonian universe of predictable relationships between cause and effect which can be calculated; the world of the five year plan and the explicit performance target; of hypothesis and empirical proof through observation and explanation of events in retrospect. This paper challenges that particular weltanschauung not by denial, but through bounding and limiting its applicability. "

A similar point can be made in respect of the Learning Organization (Senge 1990), Emotional Intelligence, Knowledge Management and many others. Multi-ontology sense making argues that different approaches are legitimate, but within boundaries and that methods and tools that work in one ontology, do not work in another. It is thus behoven on management to know which ontological domain they are operating in, and what transitions between domains they wish to achieve.

At its simplest the difference between management in order and un-order can be summarized as follows. Ordered systems are those in which a desired output can be determined in advance and achieved through the application of planning based on a foundation of good data capture and analysis. In un-ordered systems no output be determined in advance, in other than the most general terms but we can manage the starting conditions and may achieve unexpected and more desirable goals that we could have imagined in advance, or (and this is commonly the case especially in the case of teenage parties) we can just be more successful in avoiding failure.

This awareness of context is not common in Management science and consultancy practice which is dominated by approaches based on an assumption that the systems being researched and managed are essentially ordered in nature. They are thus susceptible to methods based on best practice and the creation of structured top down approaches. In ordered systems we can create repeatability and scalability with consistency. Failure is a failure of design or implementation not a result of the nature of system itself.

Humans ascribe intentionality and cause where none necessarily exist There is a natural tendency to ascribe intentionality to behavior in others, whilst assuming that the same others will appreciate that some action on our part was accidental. Equally if a particular accidental or serendipitous set of actions on our part lead to beneficial results we have a natural tendency to ascribe them to intentional behavior and come to believe that because there were good results, those results arose from meritorious action on our part. In doing so we are seeking to identify causality for current events. This is a natural tendency in a community entrained in its patter of thinking by the enlightenment. Deacon

Multi-ontology sense making a new simplicity in decision making

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