forwarded message from Steve.Childe xtn

From: John Conover <>
Subject: forwarded message from Steve.Childe xtn
Date: Thu, 8 Dec 94 22:43 PST

What is going on is that Champy and Hammer have split the blanket over
issues of incremental vs radical change, so the story goes. So, I
suppose the reasoning goes, that if the founders and architects of a
new school of management philosophy (eg., "religion") can't hold their
own organization together and resolve their conflicts, then maybe the
"religion" is not as good as they professed it to us. Of course, it is
never considered that personalities could be the issue ... But have no
fear, there is a multitude of alternative "religions" ... learning
organizations ... living organizations ... intelligent enterprises
... fifth discipline organizations ... knowledge organizations
... virtual organizations ... networked organizations
... self-directed work teams ... don't mind me, I'm just reading the
titles to books on my bookshelf. (Of course, you will have to be a
Botanist to categorize all of them.) And, of course, if you read the
back flap on these books, you will find that if you get into trouble
that the authors have consultant practices that would be more than
willing to send a "prophet" to help you out. (I wonder if the books
are an intellectual marketing gimmick.)

I'm being a little fatuous. There is an interesting work (circa
1950's) done by the economist Kenneth Arrow (using formal
game-theoretic concepts) concerning the intransitives of determination
of priorities in groups (which is what management is all about now
that sexual harassment is no longer a valid time killer to keep
management occupied.)  He proved that there could never be a set of
rules by which priorities may be ranked by a group of people. He was
actually investigating optimization of the social welfare function
when he discovered this, and it became the so called "Impossibility
Theorem."  He won the Nobel for his work several years later. (He is
still a prof. at Stanford.)  All his rather pompous theorem says is
that there can never be a perfect form of management or
government. (Thanks for sharing that, huh.) Wonder why we are still
hunting for the "Holy Grail" of management. (Since Business Process
Reengineering is now defunct, I'm going to start the "ECN
organization"-we will do it all through rework-perhaps call it MBO.)
There is an interesting corollary to Arrow's work.  In the first place
there is no Universities offering diplomas in Democratic Theory
(which, prior to the 1960's, if you were going into politics was the
degree of choice-and also meant that you were highly qualified for a
job in the US government) any more, and secondly, it provides the
rationalization that politics is what runs the corporation (or the
Congress,) etc. (It also says that politics can not be a rational or
logical process if it succeeds in establishing the rank of priorities,
for that matter.)



John Conover,,

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