Re: Mindless reductionism

From: John Conover <>
Subject: Re: Mindless reductionism
Date: Sat, 28 Jan 95 12:00 PST

John Gilks writes:

 > As is all knowledge work!  Perhaps you might better employ your time trying
 > to formalize the practice of academic research and reduce it to engineering
 > practice!

 > ...

 > If there is a blinder, blind alley in management than reductionism I have
 > yet to find it.  The substitution of SPC for thought pretty much did for
 > TQM.  The IT techno weenies and reductionist academics threaten to do the
 > same for BPR.  Please, please can we hear more about the holistic
 > integration of people, process and technology that underlies the best BPR
 > projects.

Hi John. I think you are quite right. If you look at knowledge work
process, it is generally setting priorities that is the issue, not the
work itself. In 1952 an economist named Kenneth Arrow using
game-theoretic techniques, showed that in a group of more than 2
people, the setting of priorities was intransitive, meaning that their
was no deductive, reductive, or any other conceivable formal logical
methodology that the group could use to rank priorities. So your
statement about "holistic integration" as a means is well taken, and
stands on formal ground since an "engineering" or "formal practice" is
impossible. The formal essence of Arrow's work is that ranking
priorities can not be formalized, (which is probably why it is called
the "impossibility theorem.")



John Conover,,

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