Re: Re: Re: BPR-L Intransitives of Determination of Priorities

From: John Conover <>
Subject: Re: Re: Re: BPR-L Intransitives of Determination of Priorities
Date: Tue, 23 Aug 1994 19:16:43 -0700 (PDT)!WRB-AFRES.AFRES.AF.MIL!Dale=Long%HQ_AFRES_IMX%ROBINS writes:
> John,
> So, now that we agree that we agree, where do we take the discussion from
> here?  :)
>       Dale

Hi Dale. I will disclose the "hidden agenda" for the posting. If you
read the recent BPR-L, there was some talk, (maybe a perception,) that
BPR is now becoming passe, etc. If you look at the MTBF of management
schemas, it is about 3 years (perhaps, if we exclude MBO, but
certainly including "the Intelligent Enterprise," "the Learning
Organization,", etc.)

If you look at why they fail, IMHO, it is because they are not on a
solid formal foundation (eg., they can not provide the answer to their
own limitations, like the so called "Impossibility Theorem," and a
host of others that are addressed on a game theoretic basis.") For
that matter, most of these issues are very old, some more than a half
century. (Some of the newer theorems, particularly from the Santa Fe
Institute, that address complexity issues in organizations are even
more dramatic.)

As a case in point, MBO has been sold as the solution to the
intransitives of management (I, personally, was in the meeting when
this presentation was made by one of the larger management consultant
organizations in the US.) I believe they fail not because the
environment changed drastically, etc., but because they are sold as a
cure all for a host of management ills, some of which are not
addressable-and some which are.

I am just getting tired of having to address the integration issues of
the newest latest and greatest management concepts, that have metrics
based on non-single simplex statistics-and that fall into disfavor in
a few years, and then the process repeats.

Now for the reasons (trumpets blare.) We participated in a study that
compiled metrics on over a hundred of the largest companies in the
industry. Low and behold. The companies that were the most aggressive
in the market with the most durability and longevity tended to use
none of these!!!

Granted there were companies that used none of these that failed, but
the ones that were successful (quantified in a formal sense from a
list of objectives) all used none. What was different about them. In
particular (and you will enjoy this being in the military,) they had
three things:

        1) Leadership.

        2) A very simple, clearly defined, sense of purpose, (usually,
        in the form of an organizational charter, that was well
        thought out, general, and not confining, for example, our
        charter was one and a half type written pages-do not confuse
        charter with mission statement-this was the total structural,
        organizational, managerial, budgetary, etc. document.)

        3) Aggressive culture and institutional values. (eg., we are
        in a competitive market, therefore a sense of expediency is

Note that 2 & 3 are really manifestations of 1.

For example, Apple computer was a 4 billion dollar a year company
before it had a formal budget process!!! (And, it has not done so well
after a formal budget process 6 years ago.)

It is important to note that those companies that did not have formal
processes and lacked the above three, failed. Those that had the above
three succeeded.

Therefore, it seems that the above three requirements are what is
required for success, (provided you have ample funding, etc., but even
these things appear to be of less importance ...) and our piddling with
new management philosophies are really not that important.

Note that the 3 items listed above address the issue of how the
organization will address the intransitives and complexities of its
existance. Very "humanistic."

I have NEVER seen a COO/CEO selected because of "leadership" qualities
as the number one priority.  (Could you imagine a General Officer
selected this way in the AF?) They are selected for the ability to run
a P&L, technical knowledge, etc.

That was the reason for the posting.



John Conover,,

Copyright © 1994 John Conover, All Rights Reserved.
Last modified: Fri Mar 26 18:58:25 PST 1999 $Id: 940824021700.6071.html,v 1.0 2001/11/17 23:05:50 conover Exp $
Valid HTML 4.0!