The Cat 3 sociotechnical fix

When the Plan B social system comes to life, an event impossible to miss, it’s time to think about engineering the Cat 3 technical system and how best to finish off the project. Instead of the usual defensive, dysfunctional social apparatus, you now have a cooperative, collaborating workforce. The contrast in planning assumptions could not be greater.

As received Cat 3 technical realities:

  • Have no goal specification worthy of the name. What they have is a wish, like Utopian wishes for social harmony impossible in a class-based collective.
  • Everything known about the causes of the Cat 3 is grossly inadequate and incorrect.
  • Everything known about the effects/consequences of the Cat 3 problem is grossly inadequate and misleading. The full scope of consequences of the Cat 3 cascade is unrecognizable until after the Cat 3 system problem is fixed. That’s how entangled multiplicity forms Cat 3s.
  • The Establishment doesn’t want the Cat 3 problem solved. POSIWID

You’re going to have 100 times the creativity and workmanship to leverage and at least 25% more energy for getting things done with no change to the roster. You will have higher quality information to work with and no need for a defense when things temporarily run into a snag. Cat 3 projects must use the process of elimination to goal-seek where error in performance is the signal to pick another candidate.

Starting right is everything. If you don’t, you’ll never have enough time and energy to start over. In this regard, intuition is always wrong. The starting gate for Cat 3 projects consists of those modules of developed knowledge Cat 2 projects can take for granted. The law of optimality instructs that to end prudent you must start prudent. The application-tested choice is called The Front End.

Einstein is quoted as having said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.” The point he makes is important: preparation has great value to problem solving. The Front End determines success or failure.

The process of elimination (POE) is the only method of solving a Cat 3 problem that works. The challenge then becomes productivity in candidate trials.


The method of making choices can vary from all subconscious mind to nobrainer emulation of others to conscious mind/emotional partnerships. Unchained to reality, the poets can venture wherever their passions take them, as they choose. Engineers chained to reality use formal logic and cognitive effort to detect and remove errors in their thinking. While choices can be made with cognition on or off, the brute reality is oblivious to your choices.

If any process of making includes an attempt to defy a natural law, intentional or not, whatever process is being used will fail.  What else is daily news but covering up for a faulty choice-making process.


The Plan B Standard of Care

Since we use the term “Standard of Care” so often and there are many different definitions of Standard of Care (SoC) in use in society, a clear definition of the SoC as used on this website is in order. Our definition of the SoC is both conceptual and functional task action. The significant distinction of the Plan B SoC compared to the typical SoC is that the SoC we use is forethought, anticipatory, preventative. That means we can prove we are compliant with the SoC as our work proceeds. A SoC that is created in hindsight, after consequences have manifest, like civil law, is of no use at all to licensed practitioners. It is injustice by legal process.

A SoC that is useful in application must revolve around the thinking process – how choices are being made. The structure of our SoC definition uses the three phases of prudent choice-making, intelligence (appropriate selection).

  1. Preparation
  2. Introspection
    1. Incubation
    2. Illumination
  3. Verification

We hold that a SoC that does not feature intelligent choice making based on foresight as its backbone, will cause more trouble than it’s worth. What good is a SoC that legitimizes imprudent choice making by trusted professionals? In effect, it makes anything professionals do legal and free of responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

We hold that a SoC should reflect an explicit connection between being a professional/leader and responsibility for the consequences of their services. Further, that if it cannot be made so explicit, it cannot be allowed to serve as a legitimate SoC. Rather than a protection for the public, it becomes a license for corruption. Note that potentates and politicians are not licensed  professionals and take no responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

The Preparation and Verification phases are rule-based and complying with the rules requires significant intelligent, creative effort. The Incubation and Illumination phases feature a combination of conscious mind and subconscious mind efforts. This is where intuition, instinct, and passion have a role in creating prudent candidates for validation testing. There are rules and guides for intelligent cognition which apply, especially the law of optimality, because the process of prudent choice making must be transparent. You will find elaboration on the specifics of our SoC throughout this website.

Contributing factors

  • Value System: consumer/producer
  • Social status: Opinion/performance
  • Cognitive biases, sensory illusions
  • Classification alignment with process in use
  • Nash equilibrium
  • Subconscious memory storage


Any One Fatal to success

  • Goal setting, what done looks like
  • Law of optimality
  • GIGO, subconscious mind memory banks
  • Entropy extraction (Ashby’s First Law), the 2nd Law
  • The 2½ rule
  • The 36% rule
  • Personalization, platinum rule, losers, class distinctions, trust
  • Reductionism v system
  • Control theory
    • Instability
    • Lags, Feedforward


The method of making choices can vary from all subconscious mind to nobrainer emulation of others to conscious mind/emotional partnerships. Unchained to reality, the poets can venture wherever their passions take them, as they choose. Engineers chained to reality use formal logic and cognitive effort to detect and remove errors in their thinking. While choices can be made with cognition on or off, the brute reality is oblivious to your choices.

If any process of making includes an attempt to defy a natural law, intentional or not, whatever process is being used will fail.  What else is daily news but covering up for a faulty choice-making process.


Handy Checklists

Joint restrictions
  • Turing on infallibility or intelligence
  • Plan A or Plan B
  • Transparency or opacity
  • Reductionism or system think
  • Flourishing or languishing
  • Consumer or producer
  • Rule-based or goal seeking
  • Conformance or performance
  • Social status by opinion or social status by performance


Based on natural law, Plan B inherits many of the properties of natural law.

  • It is generic
  • It is incontrovertible
  • It is indifferent
  • It is omnipresent

Some obstacles to Cat 3 P/S implanted by the Establishment

  • Obedience to authority
  • Flawed choice-making process
  • Rule-based behavior
  • Zero responsibility for results
  • Garbage information
  • Sabotage of progress

Poisons to Cat 3 socio technical success

  • Incompatible head shed value system
  •  Reductionism
    • Simple cause, simple effect
    • No system think
  • Opacity
  • GIGO, 2½ rule
  • Incompetent goal setting
  • Corruption dysfunction
  • Class distinctions
  • Zero sum competition
  • Depersonalization
    • The golden rule
  • Attempts to defy natural law
    • Law of optimality
    • Control theory
    • No entropy extraction

The Front End

We have called the scope of work in “making sure the city is worth the siege,” The Front End for fifty years. It is the phase thinking scientists call “preparation” and, like the “verification” phase, it is rule-based Too many times in our large project experience we diligently plugged away only to find out, near the end when the money was gone, the basic assumptions of the project were grossly misaligned with reality. In time we learned that all big projects are conceived and launched by authoritarian folks, bereft of trustworthy information, who don’t have their act together.

The field-proven “Front End” (TFE) carries the expedition through ground truthing, the goal setting, and proving stages. The work that follows the proving ground runs, where physical functions are certified, is much more aligned with established technical disciplines. With confidence for a successful outcome provided  by authentic responsibility-takers, the work proceeds apace. Who doesn’t want to be associated with a successful Cat 3 project?

The Front End of the Cat 3 technical phase is designed as a transition phase between socio and technical. Leaving it to business as usual ruins the chances of solving the Cat 3 problem. Doing the front end work by its check list acts as a buffer to the feeding frenzy on the technical carcass by the disciplines before all the bias, bad choices, and wrong assumptions see the light of day. Bad choices, based on unmitigated GIGO, don’t go back into the bottle before they’re catastrophic to the project.

Acquaint yourself with the various ways ill-informed humans make irrational choices and you’ll understand why TFE is an integral part of Plan B P/S. With a basket full of delusions preinstalled in your subconscious mind, we wonder how anyone could avoid failure to attain his goal. It’s not that the reasoning process is avoided, it’s that the reasoning used is counterproductive.

The dividing line between success and failure is whether advocates of a P/S hypothesis deliberately search for evidence that could falsify it and accept the strategy only if it survives. This process of elimination standard is how, exactly, we arrived at Plan B in 2013.

The first publication about Plan B (1986) and every book since has featured The Front End (TFE) and the law of optimality that shapes it. The front end is where the work flow of Plan B a priori begins along with ground truth acquisition. TFE, mostly about system statics and uncertainty identification ends with the handoff to dynamics where uncertainty is enumerated and systematically eliminated by hard system performance data on trustworthy facsimiles.

Those chained to business as usual despise “The Front End.” With no role for opinion, they know all the errors being found are going to make them look bad and social status trumps project attainment every time. The truth is The Front End makes everyone look bad, including those of us who execute its procedures. Finding out how many of your innate perceptions and intuitions about the project were wrong is a cold shower. The biggest insult to your intelligence is guessing the significant variables of the process.

Once TFE is completed, however, everyone is delighted that the detective work was performed. Starting with the truth, dodging the GIGO bullet, is comforting. With people who have demonstrated having their act together, they know the project is going to be a success and want to be part of it. Its transparency is proudly displayed on workroom walls.

Whenever you are tasked to Cat 3 project work, novel and temporary, there are some start-right assumptions. Whatever the given specifications, you can be sure they were prepared when Cat 3 project knowledge was sparse, missing, and unreliable. Further, the people who made the initial choices, entitled authoritarians, were unlikely to have Actionable Quality Information (AQI) or their act together. The “big picture seat” is fed so much garbage information it causes cognitive paralysis.

Accordingly, respecting the law of optimality, you can assume the technical information provided at project’s outset is too unreliable to use as a foundation for going forward. Validating the project scope by acquired ground truth becomes the first order of business. There is no way to build a process that starts where you are and leads to the goal without a GPS of the goal.  You must make good choices at each step before going on to the next step and there are benchmarks for checking that that is the case. In the end, system performance answers all questions about the GYAT choice-making process.

In validating the primary function, you visit the sources of the assumptions that management used to choose the ultimate objective. Experience shows you will get an education about the confirmation bias. Those with ground truth will be happy to discuss the project with someone who seeks the truth.

Scope and task progression of The Front End (TFE)


  1. Goal validation: ground truthing. Sources of choices made so far
    1. Starting assumptions of as-received project (POSIWID)
    2. Production Goal  primary function, generalized functions (Rasmussen)
    3. Design Basis Events (DBE)
  1. The Rasmussen Flow of logic
    1. Prime Directive
    2. Generalized functions
    3. The Franceschi Fitting
      1. Franceschi Fitting ground truth
    4. Physical functions
    5. Part numbers and configuration
  2. Stakeholders
  3. Forecast project context, without intervention
  4. Legitimate responsibility for satisfactory results
  5. Prevailing project morale
  6. Husbandry provisions
  7. Reliability engineering
  8. Design basis flow diagram
  9. Regulatory climate, licensing and permits
  10. Handoff to dynamic simulation, proving grounds


  • There can be no losers within the Plan B envelope.
  • All choices are made by using GIGO-free AQI (actionable-quality information)
  • Everything in the flow path has live implementations available for audit and is demonstrable in your own shop.
  • Everything is proudly transparent and falsifiable.

Expressing physical functions in tangibles is comparatively straightforward. Any work you do in going from functions to part numbers and flow diagrams can be reverse engineered and independently audited for prudence. There is nothing simple or straightforward about translating from generalization to particular tasks. Forget grok.


Ground truth acquisition

In the case of a Cat 3 project engagement, you prepare with validating the mission statement. To validate requires obtaining ground truth, first hand reconnaissance. Read, but ignore official sources. Ground truth comes from personal, one on one, direct contact with the MitMs involved in the proceedings. It takes time and effort, but if you are GYAT, the MitMs will give you an earful.

If the ground truth on the project goal statement and prime function is validated, proceed down the Rasmussen hierarchy, from the prime function to generalized functions to the Franceschi Fitting (FF) level. This is the critical translation between abstraction and materiality. The generalized functions themselves point nowhere in the material world.

The creation of the physical functions that constitute project success is pure invention that, of necessity, must be done by someone who knows both the fictional world of the project specification  and the real world of the producers, tangible system performance and goal realization.

Because goal-definition is 100% creativity, a single mind is involved. To interpret mission goals in terms of physical functions, he takes a generalized function as input and invents a set of physical functions he thinks will deliver the generalized function, expressed on a flow diagram. Once defined, selecting the tangibles to produce that physical function fits routine engineering, using precedent and experience, expressed in flow diagrams and catalog part numbers.

Once the part numbers have been selected, it is possible to create what done looks like physically. What used to be an artist’s rendition has become a task for packaged software.


In Plan B, producer world, no one cares about your ethics or morals. What does count is your productivity towards the common Cat 3 goal. Producer world can’t understand any other definition of “responsibility” than process results. When you volunteer to take outcome responsibility in producer world, you are given the autonomy necessary to meet your pledge. The rest is up to you. That is, exactly, a square deal.

There are sure-fire indicators that no one is responsible for obtaining satisfactory project outcomes.

  • Authorities pronounce that everyone is responsible for results
  • Authorities claim to be responsible for outcomes
  • No one claims responsibility for outcomes
  • Defensive routines, undiscussables
  • Groupthink is the operating ideology

The only valid responsibility-taking for successful outcomes is someone who has GYAT, knows the Plan B standard of care process, and it is in a social power position to deliver.

In large construction projects, applications have to be filed with government agencies that designate responsibility for performance. The professional responsible under tort law is called the “engineer of record.” There is no responsibility for management to deliver a successful project, because it can’t.

Design Basis Events

Design Basis Events (DBEs) are those foreseeable operating disturbances that foresight judgment deems worthy of prevention, avoidance, or defensive compensation in the system design. This list of events usually includes corrosion, earthquakes, tsunamis, fire, pipe ruptures, etc. The list expands along with growth in project knowledge.

The DBEs are scenarios run on the system simulator before turnover to the disciplines.


Authoritarianism doesn’t care a whit about stakeholder satisfaction and never did. The entitled consumers of the upper hierarchy do not compile and publish a stakeholders list with a definition of the stakes of each. Any conflicts between the actions being taken and stakeholder interests are ignored. The only backstop for stakeholder abuse is tort law – after the damage has been incurred.

Plan B policy holds there are to be no losers, including stakeholders. The no-loser dictum solves the problem of getting their stakes included in project navigation considerations. In Plan B, deliberate effort is directed to identify stakeholder interests and their expectations. In most situations, success of the project takes care of the stakeholder obligation.

Reliability Engineering

System reliability requirements must be explicit and accommodated before the final configuration of the process takes place. The discipline that covers this, reliability engineering, uses equipment failure data and mathematical physics to define appropriate system reliability actions. There are many options available to correct deficiencies in reliability including redundancy and preventative maintenance. Plan A has to be driven to consider reliability. Plan B includes it under the instinct of workmanship.

The world of shapes, lines, curves, and solids is as varied as the world of numbers, and it is only our long-satisfied possession of Euclidean geometry that offers us the impression, or the illusion, that it has, that world, already been encompassed in a manageable intellectual structure. The lineaments of that structure are well known: as in the rest of life, something is given and something is gotten; but the logic behind those lineaments is apt to pass unnoticed, and it is the logic that controls the system. David Berlinski

Dynamic simulation

Once the “front end” punchlist has cleared the air of fiction, flawed project goals, and a tangible system has formed out of nothingness, it’s time to phase-in the dynamics part of the design process for validation. It’s the proving ground phase – finding design weaknesses on the cheap. It greatly speeds up the process of elimination that trademark all Cat 3 problems.  There are two gas-tight rationales for building a robust simulator of the physical Cat 3 system:

  1. Validate the design performance in the design-basis events (DBEs).
  2. Implement feedforward control for the Cat 3 system using the system characteristic equations developed for simulator design.

Not only is feedforward control the best there can be, hands down, its many benefits stream for the life of the process. Feedforward control builds resiliency right into the system itself without depending on human intervention. It is the mathematical equivalent of a prudent operator scouting ahead as a vedette to see what disturbances might be coming so he can ready the system to take the hit in stride. When your subconscious mind dumps a load of adrenalin into your bloodstream to prepare you for a carnivore attack, it is illustrating feedforward control.

When the model is run for the first time around the proving ground, the room  automatically fills with discipline people. They know that reliable system dynamics knowledge puts them in the go-to-man category.

It consists of implementing The Front End statics to configure The Front End dynamics. When the simulation runs are over and its lessons learned incorporated into design the project is turned over to the established engineering and construction disciplines to finish and conduct system startup.

Fly it before you buy it.

General Remarks

  • Context contributes greatly to the meaning of solving problems.
  • Cat 3 P/S involves higher order cognitive process and intellectual function
  • The P/S strategies that stem from the natural process of comparing oneself with others, are wildly error-prone.
  • System think is also called morphological analysis.
  • If you use positive achievement for the organization as the index of worth, the professions of leadership and management score bankrupt.
  • P/S structures are invented mental constructs for doing efficient searches for solutions.
  • P/S under awareness (Cats 2 &3) and P/S under subconscious  control (Cat 1)
  • Cat 3 problems can only be solved collectively
  • Reductionism is used to take the system problem they can’t solve and reduce it intellectually into a component problem they can solve, while the system problem reality is abandoned to the jaws of the 2nd Law.
  • Your right to solve problems is inalienable
  • In Cat 3 problem solving, augmented intelligence multiplies productivity by three
  • Since no one can avoid the problems after they are brought in by the arriving reality, it’s why reality denial is such a menace to happiness. The Cat 3 focus is on foreseeing and preventing.
  • Prudence (cardinal) is to virtue as problem solving methodology (cardinal) is to inalienable natural rights
  • P/S  and goal-seeking are the same cognitive activity.
  • The “root cause” of the problem is determined by test, namely showing that removing the root cause prevents the behavior from recurring.

The French national rail company that dropped California’s “bullet train” project for work in “less politically dysfunctional” North Africa has already completed a project in Morocco.

Like Sisyphus, every day starts with the check list of Maslow and the conscious-mind husbandry of Cat 3 projects.


The Hind End of the Front End

You can cope with whatever social behavior throws at you by knowing the conditions at which natural law takes charge. There are transactions where individual personality matters a lot and there are social behaviors under control of the forces of nature where individual personality plays no part at all. The advantage you can gain with social intelligence is that making a wrong assessment is impossible and it works 100% of the time.

One area where natural law rules is control theory. Like gravity, there’s nothing anyone can do to deflect its effect. An example is the irrevocable advantage of aggression (++).  Starkermann’s work in the dynamic simulation of social system behavior with models constructed using control theory (mathematical physics) showed that aggression is formed and acts immediately, less than a second, while benevolence (+ -) is formed and acts slowly, days. The large differential in processing time works to lock in aggression as the social norm of behavior before benevolence can get out of its crib.

In practice, that knowledge means you can identify the organizations where aggression is king, “The beatings will continue until morale improves,” from organizations you can work with in productive collaboration.  So armed, you already know how to behave.

You don’t performance speak to the upper classes and, in their presence, you act in awe of their big-picture-seat clairvoyance. To the producing class, as a MitM, you implement Plan B practices.

When it comes to social behavior, which is the moving decision of an entangled network of subconscious minds, knowing the natural laws that matter is how you avoid making costly mistakes. As all mathematical physics has the same properties of omnipresence and indifference, it is gross negligence to allow for the impact of one law while thinking you can defy another. Nature will punish you with impartiality for attempting to defy control theory as She will for violating the laws of ecology.

BTW, notice the mirror in the artwork at the top of the page?

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