Background on Systems Think
Society is composed of persons who cannot design, build, repair, or even operate most of the devices upon which their lives depend. In the complexity of this world people are confronted with extraordinary events and functions that are literally unintelligible to them. They are unable to give an adequate explanation of man-made phenomena in their immediate experience. They are unable to form a coherent, rational picture of the whole. Under the circumstances, all persons do, and indeed must, accept a great number of things on faith.
The plight of members of the technological society can be compared to that of a newborn child. Much of the data that enters its sense does not form coherent wholes. There are many things the child cannot understand or, after it has learned to speak, cannot successfully explain to anyone. Citizens of the modern age in this respect are less fortunate than children. They never escape a fundamental bewilderment in the face of the complex world that their senses report. They are not able to organize all or even very much of this into sensible wholes.
An objection might be raised that difficulties of the sort I have mentioned soon will have remedies. Systems theory, artificial intelligence, or some new modern way of knowing will alleviate the burdens. Soon there will exist tools of intellectual synthesis. I must report I found no such tools in practice. I have surveyed the various candidates for this honor—systems theory and systems analysis, computer sciences and artificial intelligence, new methods of coding great masses of information, the strategy of disjointed incrementalism and so forth. As relief for the difficulties raised here none of these offers much help. The systems idea is another—and indeed the ultimate—technique to shape man and society.
By allowing the existence of large bureaucratic systems under centralized control, whether corporate, governmental, or institutional, we unwittingly enter into a hideous conspiracy against ourselves, one in which we resolutely work to limit the growth of our minds and spirits. The only conceivable answer is to break the power of these things, through grit, courage, indomitability and resolution if possible, through acts of personal sabotage and disloyalty if not. Langdon Winner
Putting system think to work
Everything about the MitM ultimate adventure is connected to a system. There are social systems and technical systems galore involved before, during, and after the transmutation. If your social dealings do not take account of their system context and properties, you are entertaining a high risk of failure to correct the root cause of organizational dysfunction.
It is easy for a MitM to grasp the system concept. Effective implementation work itself forces an appreciation for the interconnected factors that keep showing up as interdependent and mutually inclusive. The more you use the many tools of “system,” the more effective you will be. In practice, systems think is usually a show stopper. It is great for finding errors otherwise easy to overlook.
When you are focusing on one element of a system, neglecting the others, the system that binds elements together has a way to punish your indiscretion. What quicker way is there to go to hell, for example, than by ignoring the human factor in implementation? There are some interesting benefits to enhancing your systems-think competencies.
The laws of system dynamics (Maxwell) and network communications (Shannon) apply across the board, all languages. Both system delusion-speak and system implementation-speak are captives of these same laws. These principles determine whether or not the network will be stable and deliver anything useful. At all the times you’ve observed the onset of social system instability, did you ever think the meltdown of civility was really being triggered by control theory, mathematical physics, in particular by its special, visible variable called “gain?”
Setting up a race car is a splendid example of a system running at the edge of system stability. It doesn’t take much to get a race car machine from optimal to sub-optimal. These cars never get better in use by themselves. The pit crew is loaded with real-time monitoring computers and tuning algorithms. Once you understand the role played by “gain,” you’ll see it in play everywhere.
Since knowing the system configuration tells you nothing about system dynamics, it is dynamic phenomena that separates the delusionists from the implementers. In imagination-based theories and projections, dynamics either plays no role or the role envisioned can’t be implemented in the operational reality.
Once the system starts up, it becomes impossible for the human mind to track the circulating influences for more than a few cycles. Developing system dynamics knowledge is always a case of running the system and taking measurements. You can do it full scale or you can get a workable approximation by modelling and dynamic simulation of disturbances using natural law. The idea is to run zillions of tests to develop an empirical base for predicting social system behavior.
With few exceptions, learning the system dynamics necessaries by running and wrecking full size systems is cost and time prohibitive. This constraint is why it is prudent to devise dynamic simulations, modular modelling, run by computer, that match up with reality. By using computer models thus as intelligence amplifiers, a thousand runs can be done in a regular work day. It took decades, but this technique was how professor Starkermann developed the social system science for M2. Dynamic simulation work on social systems rarely produces the predicted results. Intuition is wrong more often than random chance. It was dynamic simulation that put engineering science behind what was being learned by hard experience.
The phenomenon of social system stability is congruent with the law of resilience used to predict collapse of ecosystems. Rudolf Starkermann used resilience as the limiting factor in his dynamic simulations of human social systems. Once you appreciate that all dynamical systems can go unstable, you can understand what it means to know how close to instability you are and predict your trajectory. A lot of resilience theory is counterintuitive, which provides even more reason to embrace this principle.
A parallel to resilience theory is the 36% rule. It is the tipping point of turnover. If turnover exceeds 36%, there is no way to avoid productivity decays. New employees can’t be trained fast enough to avoid degrading the workforce – a depressing result that leads to more turnover.
In OD, the head shed has no reliable handle on turnover, by intent. It routinely underestimates the costs and wreckage of turnover to their organization by two orders of magnitude. There is no value to training on safety or quality, e.g., until the turnover menace, an effect of OD and not a cause, has been brought down below 36%. In effect, fostering high turnover is one of the ways the executives punish the MitMs. It’s a variation of the game “I bet you can’t.” In reality, high turnover punishes management, its cause, as well.
The history of turnover truth avoidance by the head shed was first documented in 1913 by Magnus Alexander of GE. In 1914 Sumner Schlichter published the first systematic study of labor turnover. Management was caught red handed in shocking waste and incompetency and to quell the unwanted notoriety, it formed HR departments tasked to reduce turnover. The era of Catbert was launched.
The strategy of HR then and now is to hire only those employees that will tolerate the dysfunction in silence. The result is that turnover remains at embarrassing levels and that, all by itself, bankrupts the organization. The causes of turnover remain unmitigated. During the FLLP, turnover plummets to background noise levels. Not knowing what to do, HR departments attack the MitMs with ad hominem.
The human social system can only advance in productivity and welfare through its MitM class. The vectors are the only people who can bring positive change to system organization and make it stick. They fix the root cause of system OD and the benefits are delivered as a package. You can‘t have high productivity and poor safety at the same time, e.g., so by raising productivity safety takes care of itself. Nothing underscores the influence of the MitM more than the joint appearance of the various benefits to the system components.
Only MitMs are knowledgeable about the mechanisms of production in the arena of work. No one in delusion-speak has a clue. You soon learn that system-think can serve many purposes. In real life, many problems can only be solved by systems think, dealing with several connected elements at the same time. That magic is reserved for the “vector.”
When the delusionists of OD, who forbid “system” to be uttered in their network, decide they really need to get an intractable problem solved, they will come to you as the “go-to” man, the vector, to get the push over the top they require. You accumulate power with this service even though once you bail them out, they forget your name.
Your expertise in system dynamics puts you far ahead of everyone else. Bringing ever-growing system dynamics knowledge into the discussion drives both delusionists and component specialists to the edge of madness. Once identified, demonstrating the system connections is easy. Who couldn’t show the direct connection between turnover and safety?
There is a design tool, called “penetrations,” honed in nuclear power, which forces systems thinking by the full choir of stakeholders. With this tool, anyone can take any quantity of rioters and turn them into Pablum. The systematic systems think of “penetrations,” pure implementation-speak, shows one and all how little they really knew about the system, its scope, how it behaves in design conditions, and how it behaves in fault conditions. With everyone cut down to size, everyone humbled by their “penetrating” ignorance, things can move cooperatively forward.
The elements in the following frameworks are included in “system” because in every switch between OD and PS3 they change together in concert, inseparable, measurable, and demonstrable. The way you prove the true scope of any system is to give it a sharp whack and record what elements change and how its environment moves. It is the only way to validate the real components. Thump on the head shed, for example, since nothing changes for the better because of it, and you’ve proven it is not a vector. The ferocity of your thump doesn’t register on potentate meters.
The scope and structure of the social system
- Networks of entangled human minds
- 90% subconscious mind
- Endocrine system
- Immune system
- 10% conscious mind
- Gatekeeper of delusion’s imperatives
- Implementation in the operational reality
- The entangled network dynamics
- Damage and waste
- Regulatory relations
- Environmental safeguard
- Competitive status
- New opportunities to advance
- Turnover, absenteeism, and unsolicited job applications
- Community relations
- 90% subconscious mind
Significant characteristics of system OD
- The leadership of OD is preoccupied in dealing with social system issues that, in PS3, never arise in the first place. Including:
- Productivity and availability
- Damage and waste
- Negative reciprocity
- Morale, security
- Turnover, absenteeism, recruiting
- Competition, competitive advantage
- Public relations
- Regulatory relations
Significant characteristics of the OD “fix” PS3
- Nothing to buy
- Generic, fractal, holographic
- No risk of failure
- Examine and evaluate ongoing implementations
- Try it before you buy it
- Fast payoff
- Windfalls as you go
- Recover OD damages
- Free up crisis-response efforts
- Windfalls as you go
- Bonus benefits
- Competitive advantage
- Positive reciprocity
- New opportunities
- Psychological success
- Scrutably connected to natural law
- Seamless progression, bumpless transfer
- Implementation speak
Dynamic attributes of the “fix” deliverable
- Sensitive to disturbance
- Windfall system-bundled benefits continuation
- Husbandry of viability
- Feedback controlled
- Positive reciprocity
The concept of social organization as “system” is one to implant in your marrow. Mother nature is poised to put a big hurt on you for dealing with component before dealing with the system it is part of first. In the majority of system-think applications, when you fix the system, the component issue dissolves away by itself.
There are a great many perspectives on system-think and several of them are presented on this website. The injunction is to take care of the system first as a precondition for fixing particular components. Once you get the system-think habit, you will see the drivers of organizational dysfunction (OD) in action. Structurally, a social system is a divisible whole. Functionally, it is an indivisible whole.
The largest distinction between the delusion part of the hierarchy and the workforce implementation part is the reference-in-use for behavioral control. The groupthink sector of the hierarchy controls its behavior by delusions held as infallible. Since obedience to authority is essentially rule-based behavior, the operational reality determines whether or not the rules are beneficial. As reality changes instant by instant, it is only a matter of time before following fixed rules starts producing counterproductive results. It is the ever-changing details that plague our daily routines and menace the business of society. The point here is that rule-based behavior, policed by everyone in its groupthink clique, is maladaptive to disturbances.
If you think of behavior as being a matter of simple cause and effect, it is very hard to see how any system could reliably produce a given end-result if the processes that lead to that result are unpredictably variable. If you pay close attention to the most ordinary actions, you’ll realize that something is always a little different each time you do them. Either you’re starting from different initial conditions, or the environment has changed a bit, and sometimes a lot.
Why aren’t you always missing things when you reach for them, or bumping into furniture and open doors, or sitting down on thin air because somebody moved your chair two feet? When we actually do things, we’re always running into those changing details.
The implementation workforce standard of care reference is productivity of revenue generation – tangible results. The revenue crew behavioral control system creates specified ends by variable means – over which it must have unfettered discretion. Rather than employ the force of rules to wipe out individual differences in compliance, the requisite cooperative and collaborative implementation itself attenuates differences. What counts to self image is contributing towards the goal. Incompatible idiosyncrasies pale in contrast to collective effectiveness towards shared objectives. High performance collectives do not navigate by rules. They are unpredictable.
Taking responsibility for goal attainment success is always coupled with independence in selection of means. Living organisms don’t produce repeatable actions. They produce repeatable results. No rules means no “drive” by management.
How can any behaving system manage to keep producing the same results again and again, in a world that won’t sit still? The clincher is that when you invite other theories of regulation to examine your outcome-focused paradigm, they aggressively refuse the opportunity to audition. Yes, groupthink is terrorized by the contrast with implementation success.
A results-based control system can tolerate very large variations in the environment, including large disturbances. The theory of control systems, control theory, mathematical physics (James Maxwell) shows how a relatively simple system, like James Watt’s flyball engine regulator, can manage to produce reliable and repeatable results in an environment that has a large component of unpredictability — in other words, in the real world.
The central role of “system” in social system behavior cannot be overstated. It is the system that directly produces the behavior observed, not a particular attribute or cognitive bias of individual actors. Context rules.
The system claim can be auditioned by searching the historical record. When you find the same social system behavior to be cross-generational, as much of it is, you can be sure the prime mover is invariant human nature married to invariant natural law.
When you study organizational dysfunction over the ages, you first discover that the Establishment went out of its way to bury the historical evidence of its malpractice. That is why the monster .pdf library of social history was cobbled together. Searches can be done on the million pages in the collection to quickly locate prior examples.
The second discovery is that no science, no discipline, no academy ever patched the abundant evidence together by system-think and test fundamental principles. All attention, short-lived at that, was directed to studying particular wreckage in the junk pile (“drill down”). For example, rather than taking the horrible record of M&A and formulating the principles delivering the carnage, the attention goes to legal action about how company B doctored its books to deceive company A about its financial condition. Some company Bs managed to hide billions of debt from company A takeover due diligence. No lessons-learned; it’s as bad today as it ever was.
You can audition the aversion of social systems to system think, right now on your smart phone. Do a search on “leadership” and you will get over four billion hits. Then, do a search on the “principles of leadership” and you will get a single page of hits. Check any of them out and you will find that none is based upon ascertainable facts or lab work, but on the whims of the author. What is offered is not principles at all.
Complaints about sociology avoiding the principles of their discipline go back to 1899. Chris Argyris continued the crusade into the current century. Of course, there are higher-level principles at work explaining why social systems aggressively forbid their members to discuss “system” issues.
What are your chances to fix social dysfunction without knowing the principles at work? Pursuit of the impossible?
Putting MitM knowledge to work
As previously discussed, the network of minds that comprises a social system is a one-way association between two subnetworks. The network that traffics only in delusions and the network that traffics in implementation in reality, transact in mutually-incomprehensible languages. When you get comfortable with the gross distinctions between the two subnetworks, you are ready for the MitM tool that leverages the distinctions to your benefit.
Start with the fact of the network of minds, the distinguishing feature of a social system. Proceed on the previously-discussed fact that the human mind comprises a conscious mind (10% of the resources) and a subconscious mind that consumes 90% of the available resources. Both minds are utterly unknowable.
The flow of information over the network that defines the upper levels of the social system is, for all practical purposes, provided exclusively by the 90% subconscious mind. Their network is awash in the delusion-speak dialect. Since the subconscious brain is so incongruent with the operational reality, the delusion network goes out of its way to avoid implementation speak – the primary workforce language.
This chasm is permanent, there can never be a common language between the delusionists and implementation-centered people. The common dialect is maintained between the worker and the MitM. While the MitM necessarily reports in delusion with his management, he keeps delusion-speak insulated from the workforce. Nothing else works.
Once you recognize the two languages, one dealing in the abstract and the other tangibles, you can see the poisoning of implementation effectiveness by fiction-laden delusions everywhere. As failure by GIGO is the only possible outcome, you know from experience what processing garbage-in does to the operation. Make a GIGO intrusion a stop rule.
The way to use this concept to benefit is to monitor the network traffic and start calling the language-chasm violators on it. Tell the purveyors of delusion speak the reasons to stay away from the wild frontier of implementation. If they meddle with the workforce, set them responsible for implementation results and remove yourself from the obligation. Anyone who meddles with implementation is automatically responsible for the outcome.
What happens next fits right in to the MitM role. Those that meddle, pulling rank, know they can’t translate delusion speak, the only language they know, into workplace task action without revealing their ignorance and incompetency. You will have fun watching the frenetic scramble to back out of the self-made cul-de-sac. This silence-breaking ploy makes it increasingly difficult for the delusionists to pretend they command events.
When management meddles, make the transfer of outcome responsibility clear. Explain the tight bond between responsibility for goal attainment and having the autonomy to making good on your pledge. If there ever was an occasion to dig in and stand your ground against the delusionists, the responsibility/autonomy marriage law is it. The venerable rule is: “whoever picks the parts owns the behavior.” In system-world, picking one part is enough to acquire total outcome responsibility.
Experience shows that standing firm on this sacred principle usually works on the spot. When it does, you will get a big jump in support from your associates. The surge in power makes MitM life easier. By the time you have reached this landing on the inferential staircase, you should already be sensing some dread-lowering benefits. Everything has to fit your experience.
It is also the province of the MitM to manage the expectations of all who pen him into the MitM condition. The approach that works for us is to explain the brute truth of the MitM bilingual scene and make it a stop rule:
To the workers, the overman’s role of language interpreter and translator is explained. They should understand the dangers of letting delusion-speak enter implementation world (GIGO). The MitM shares expectations with his workers. They can and should have high expectations of constantly improving conditions of work and psychological success.
To management, the foreman’s role to translate delusion-speak into implementation-speak is elucidated. The 2½ rule that divides the hierarchy is explained. The MitM tells his overlords the built-in limits of their expectations. It is not your obligation to pursue the impossible, bring their abstractions and delusions into the real world. No one could. What management can expect of the MitM is productivity improvement, a measurable and unambiguous variable.
A primary MitM tool
Introduced earlier in the Portal. The 2½ rule is a tool you will put to good use the instant you assimilate it. Your advantage as a MitM over all others is that you have no fear of social punishment for “unauthorized learning.” Once you get the 2½ rule into your marrow, it will explain away a majority of the social inanities you encounter every day. One sign of its power is paralyzing any manager that hears it.
While the two-dialect realm of social life, delusion-speak and implementation-speak, the “Great Divide” of every steep hierarchy, was explained above by the limitations of the subconscious mind, the 2½ rule, by itself, brings you to the exact same place. The end of the chain of command top-down (a fiction itself) is the MitM. The end of the chain of task design bottom-up is the MitM.
The derivation of the 2½ rule, next, may be gilding the lily, but the more you learn about 2½ rule functionality, the better. You can start testing it against your experience immediately, even while you’re reading about it.
The 2½ Rule
This rule, stating that ground truth, actionable-quality information (AQI), can travel no more than 2½ tiers through any hierarchy without turning rancid, is a law as solid and secure as the law of gravity. Using models based on control theory, several thousand dynamic simulations were run (Starkermann) on all sorts of hierarchies. Years of testing and the vast empirical record attests to its validity. Using their own experience, MitMs grasp the 2½ rule in a flash.
The 2½ rule comes into being because of intrinsic lags in every segment of system control internal communications. The effect of aggressive control action, called gain, to compensate for the lags makes the system super-sensitive to attempts at defiance. The price of excessive gain is risking system instability. That’s what, exactly, precipitated the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
No amount of authority can compensate for information that is not of actionable quality. When sprawled outside of the 2½ rule, it is impossible to prevent GIGO from taking over. This is another reason why the upper echelons build their groupthink around delusion-speak. Implementation reveals where GIGO has infiltrated the proceedings. Delusion-speak is a classic example of operating without AQI and being overrun by GIGO because of it.
Everyone has witnessed the 2½ rule in action in the “telephone game.” The original story is stated and then passed around the players. Usually, fidelity falls apart after one transfer. As the story makes its way around the room it progresses to utter absurdity. GIGO amplification is demonstrated.
Although it went unrecognized as a rule, the famous 13-year Hawthorne works research program data base was used by Fritz Roethlisberger to derive it empirically in 1937. Starkermann’s work on dynamic simulations, pure control theory, led us to the rule early on.
Roethlisberger was the first to publish, from front-line experience, a derivation of the powerlessness of the head shed to command the workforce in a positive direction. An excerpt from his analysis follows:
Problems of Control and Communication
“The formal structure of the industrial plant specifies the manner in which control shall be exercised. In general, this function of control is performed by the supervisory structure and by staff organizations such as accounting, cost control, personnel, and other specialist groups. The basic problem in all of these control agencies may be designated as that of communication. The problems of communication vary depending upon which group is being considered.
Transmission of Accurate Information through the Supervisory Structure
In order to exercise intelligent control, the management of a concern must be continually provided with accurate information as to the manner in which the total organization is functioning. This is one of the major functions of the supervisory hierarchy and depends for its successful functioning upon the accurate transmission of information down through the structure, on the one hand, and of information pertaining to the work level and successive levels of supervision up through the structure, on the other. The problems involved in transmitting information from the top to the bottom are fairly well recognized, but some of the problems arising in communication from the bottom to the top have not been so clearly indicated; consequently, we shall be chiefly concerned with the discussion of these latter problems.
That important problems may arise in the process of communication up through the supervisory structure was clearly shown in some of the studies which have been reported. It was seen that the picture of the work situation obtained by the investigators as a result of their detailed observations was in many respects quite different from what management assumed it to be. It was seen that many controls, particularly the wage payment structure, failed to function in accordance with the logic upon which such controls were based. Yet this disparity between the actual situation and the way it was theoretically supposed to be was intentionally ignored by management.
Employees have many sentiments and feelings which, to a considerable extent, control their work behavior. These sentiments pertain to such things as seniority, nationality, social responsibility, occupation, and position in the group, and extend to many factors in the immediate physical and social environment which were symbolic of the social status the individual had attained. It was also seen that management frequently had to act in ignorance of these sentiments. The supervisory structure does not function to communicate facts of this kind upward. As a result there is always the danger that management practices and procedures will collide with the sentiments of the employees and result in many unforeseen consequences.
The information which flows through the supervisory structure is never an accurate representation of the situation. At successive steps in the supervisory structure a selection process takes place. Some of the information is pertinent only to the first level and not to higher levels; consequently, such information stops at the first level. The remaining information is transmitted to the next higher level, where another selection process takes place, and so on up to the highest level. In order to function effectively there must be a sorting out process; otherwise, the top levels of supervision would be swamped with details and would be forced to make decisions which could be better made by supervisors lower in the organization.
In carrying out its function of communication it is important that the proper selection of information be made at each level in the supervisory structure; otherwise, erroneous impressions of the actual situation will be conveyed. If the first appraisal of a situation is inaccurate, then a distorted picture of the situation is transmitted all through the structure.
Inadequate Orientation of Supervisors, in the view of management
There are various ways in which the channels of communication can become blocked. Two possible difficulties in the supervisory organization may be mentioned:
One of the common sources of faulty communication results from an inadequate orientation of the supervisor to his situation. Inasmuch as the supervisor’s primary responsibility is to see that his organization fulfills its technical purpose satisfactorily, he is likely sometimes to appraise his situation in rather narrow terms. He may be able to communicate with his superiors in terms of the usual criteria of efficiency but he may not be able to comprehend or communicate explicitly the informal social processes within his group. In appraising his situation he may focus his attention upon only a few of the variables in the situation and ignore the others. Or again, he may make an adequate statement of the various factors operating in his situation but may not see their interrelations, with the result that what he considers as being of primary importance is actually of secondary importance. It can be readily seen that any failure on the part of the supervisor to make adequate discriminations in fact or adequate interpretations of the facts selected will automatically lead to a faulty view of the actual situation.
Discrepancy between Formal and Informal Organization
A second important problem in communication relates to the nature of the informal organization of the work group and the extent to which the informal organization is at variance with the formal organization. Any marked discrepancy between the actual situation and the formal organization may place the supervisor in an awkward position. In order to maintain his own position the supervisor in such situations may tend to convey an inaccurate picture of the actual situation to his superiors. This possibility, of course, is not confined to the first level of supervision. This problem, as well as that relating to the orientation of the supervisor, may occur at any level in the supervisory structure.
Even though no marked disparity exists between the formal and the informal organizations, similar problems in communication may appear. A defective relation between a first-line supervisor and his employees may prevent the supervisor from obtaining an intimate understanding of many problems in the actual work situation. Similar difficulties arise when the relations between any two levels of supervision are unsatisfactory. In addition, any feeling of insecurity on the part of a supervisor may induce him to edit everything that he passes up the line. Many problems of communication arise from the relations which exist between supervisors and employees and between the various levels of the supervisory structure. The problems arising in this system of relations are sometimes difficult to detect and to diagnose. Furthermore, they are exceedingly difficult to correct in any simple, direct manner. These are essentially problems in human interrelations.
Limitations of Specialist Logics
As has been pointed out, the administrator in exercising control relies not only on the supervisory organization but also upon the services of specialized control agencies. The challenge in considering the effectiveness with which these control agencies perform their functions of communication would seem to be that of how accurately the specialized logics of these agencies represent the total human organization. Each of these specialists is assigned a specific function and occupies a certain position in the total company structure. In performing his function the specialist tends to select from the total work situation only those aspects for which he is functionally responsible.
The engineer is likely to be oriented to engineering problems and not to the total organization as such. The cost accountant is oriented primarily to those aspects of the total situation which can be included under the symbols of cost. The same is true with all other specialist groups. Each expert tends to appraise the work situation in terms of his specialty, which means that some part of the total situation is left out.
As a consequence, the total group situation is never accurately represented as a functioning whole and the specific relations which obtain between the various specialist functions and the total organization are frequently ignored or inaccurately stated. Some of these specialist agencies fail to take systematic account of the social organization, particularly that part of the social organization which is informal. This means that the control which is exercised by management tends to be based upon an incomplete analysis of the entire situation, and unless that part which is ignored is intuitively understood and taken into account by management, the control exercised is likely to be inadequate.
Another aspect of this problem can best be described as the “emotional identification” which is likely to occur between the specialist and his “logics.” Theoretically, the logics in terms of which these specialists perform their functions are merely abstractions from the concrete situation. If they are so regarded by the specialist and their useful limitations of application clearly understood, no difficulties arise. Instead, however, these logics sometimes tend to become dominant in the thinking of the person who uses them, and he comes to regard them as being “right” for all occasions. As a result of this emotional identification with certain abstractions an experimental attitude is not achieved. Any evidence not in keeping with these systems of logic comes to be regarded as “wrong” and the possibility of understanding is thereby diminished. This emotional attachment of the person to his logic comes about in part because of the fact that by exercising his logic the specialist maintains his position in the social organization; consequently, any threat to it is interpreted as a threat to his integrity and security. The logic thereby becomes not merely a tool for investigation but also a weapon of defense.
In summary, it is apparent that the successful functioning of the agencies for control established in the management structure depends upon two factors:
- The extent to which the evaluational systems being applied correspond to the actual situation
- The extent to which these evaluational schemes are explicitly stated and freed from an emotional significance to the person who uses them.
These are essentially human problems and are closely bound up with problems of social organization.
Problems of the Individual’s Adjustment to the Structure
Within the structure of an organization there is a continual movement of people. This movement takes place in point of time and social space. A man is hired, he remains a member of the organization for a time varying in length from a few hours to a lifetime, and then moves out of the structure to another organization or to retirement. There is thus a continual income and outgo of people, or, as we shall say, movement in point of time.
During the time the person remains in the company he undergoes movement in terms of social space. As is sometimes the case, he may move over a period of time from the very bottom to the top of the structure. Again, he may move up a certain distance and stop, or he may ascend and then descend in the social scale.” FJR
The 2½ rule places an absolute upper limit on the fidelity of communication, as per Shannon. This ceiling, as it is for AQI, has no work-around. It cannot be defeated by redundancy. Good intentions and high authority have nothing to do with it. The 2½ rule is one of the insurmountable walls placed by universal law that prevents the head shed from receiving any semblance of truth regarding what’s going on real time with the workforce. If somehow the operational truth could be supplied to management, the language necessarily accompanying the truth, implementation-speak, is alien to the delusion-speak dialect of the ruling classes. The 2½ rule is a primary reason the head shed cannot possibly issue commands that make things better. History shows no exceptions. Anyone, at any level, can make things worse.
The 2½ rule is also the primary reason the foreman level, and only the foreman level, can interpret the necessarily-abstract commands sent down from headquarters in terms the workforce can actually execute. This extremely creative act, the Franceschi Fitting (FF), is abstraction in, task actions out. In practice, this exclusive, magical interpretative function gives the foreman carte blanche to design and assign whatever he thinks best with his workforce.
Testing with thousands of implementation people shows that the concept of the 2½ rule is immediately and fully understood. Why then is so very much effort expended by the same people to defy the rule? When Argyris called management on it, the potentates would swear to correct the oversight and then immediately relapse back to their pursuits of the impossible. What part of impossible don’t they understand?
In M2, the 2½ rule is considered, like bloodwork, final. The transmutation process is designed to stay within the 2½ rule and any disturbances otherwise are stop orders. Anyone can use the 2½ rule as a benchmark for OD and watch as violations flood the scene with garbage information and the rest, as they say, is OD history.
Elton Mayo, of Hawthorne fame, was a brilliant MitM evangelist:
“The art of human collaboration seems to have disappeared during two centuries of quite remarkable material progress. The various nations seem to have lost all capacity for international co-operation in the necessary tasks of civilization. The internal condition of each nation is not greatly better: it seems that only a threat from without, an unmistakable emergency, can momentarily quiet the struggle of rival groups. In this general situation it would seem that inquiries such as those undertaken by officers of the Western Electric Company have an urgent practical importance that is second to no other human undertaking.
How can humanity’s capacity for spontaneous co-operation be restored? It is in this area that leadership is most required, a leadership that has nothing to do with political “isms” or eloquent speeches. What is wanted is knowledge, a type of knowledge that has escaped us in two hundred years of prosperous development. How to substitute human responsibility for futile strife and hatreds — this is one of the most important researches of our time.” Elton Mayo (1933)
Another MitM tool
One way to view the ideology of aristocracy socialized into your psyche is its venerable golden rule. You have been taught that the golden rule is a universal maxim and the cornerstone of human morality. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Inspect the experience and you will find that the golden rule is a confection dreamed-up by the aristocratic class. With the golden rule, your moral backbone becomes the reference standard. That means you don’t have to know anything about your audience to invoke the rule. In practice anything an aristocrat does is legally moral no matter the damage his actions may be causing. To an implementer, the golden rule is a metabolic syndrome to justify head-shed depersonalization of the workforce. The reciprocity factor can only be negative, and it is. Note that the golden rule is always invoked by the upper classes against the lower classes, never the other way around.
The informed MitM sidelines the golden rule, as the diversion it is, replacing it with the platinum rule. “Do unto others how they want to be treated.” The platinum rule, origin unknown, requires knowing what each individual wants. You use the individual’s value system to shape your engagement to support him. This personalization of actions takes time and effort, but it engenders positive reciprocity. The difference in payoff between the two rules is striking. It seems strange that Establishment socialization goes out of its way to see that the population fails to attain psychological success. The aristocracy, touting the golden rule, doesn’t attain it either.
When Whiting Williams did his great research, right after WWI, on the real value system of the workers around the world, he found that the values stated in the propaganda and publically echoed by the worker himself, did not align with reality at all. In the end, no one was brave enough to act on Whiting’s findings. His work fits perfectly with platinum-rule experience. All the books by Williams are provided on the .pdf thumb drive. You will be richly rewarded by tracing his heroics.
When you repersonalize your staff, you can learn what Williams learned by laboring alongside laborers as a laborer. What the worker has been socialized to hold as his value system and will recite the standard catechism when asked directly, bears no resemblance to the truth. They have the same temperament and instincts as everyone else. They take pride in quality workmanship and want to make meaningful contributions using their instinct of social worth. Most are intelligent and inventive and living the platinum rule will bear this out. Until proven otherwise, treat subordinates as capable, inventive, and competent as yourself and you have acquired a very effective force multiplier.