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Jack Vinson

[Sig: your TypePad connection for comments isn't working. "Site is not registered"]

I love this. People believe organizations must be complex because the things they do are "hard" and "difficult." Thus they MUST be complex, right? And if they are complex, there is little point in trying to figure out the underlying principles. That would take several PhD's and years of effort.

But every company has (or should have) a basic organizing principle. Some simplicity that governs it all.

My only quibble. Instead of seeking "efficiency," we should be seeking "effecitiveness." Make the correct use of our people and time and equipment. Don't just make them busy - busy is often conflated with being efficient. Busy doing the wrong things doesn't help anyone.

sig

Jack,

ouch, cannot see what went wrong there, could I bother you sending me a mail explaining what you did etc so I can bitch the Typepad support (or blush when finding I did something stupid to the settings)?

Agree completely, it's all about "effectiveness" of the organisation - that's precisely what Thingamy is about, automate the stupid stuff so all can focus on value creation instead, that's "organisational effectiveness". There is no reason why the "flow" part of the "workflow" should be handle by people, that's dumb work aka emailing, meetings, reporting, updating, searching, milling around :)

Jo Jordan

Hmm, I've been a work psychologist all my life. In large organizations, yes the goal is to save trees and cut down the paperwork. Most of the complexity is unnecessary and a sign of poor administration, if not fraud.

In small outfits, the opposite applies. There is inherent complexity from their speed. If tasks are completed in intervals of 20-30 seconds there are by definiton 1500 chunks in the owner's day (compared to about 50 in a manager's day).

Simplicity comes to packaging work into 20-30 second parcels so it can be done and completed and attn can be turned to the next thing.

Signals (not necessarily automatic)tell us what has priority and priority shifts constantly (much to the consternation of people accustomed to slow luggable corporates). The trick is somehow to build accumulative signals so that we can also read patterns. Haven't licked it yet. Perhaps all I really have to say is that small and big business is wildly different.

I can give you good examples of work design from large companies. There are plenty of examples of well run organizations (though perhaps not in UK).

sig

Jo,

agree that small is very different from large organisations. I think the biggest change happens when all moves out of "one room", i.e. when opacity sets in and old fashioned frameworks for the flow takes over - organisational hierarchy, business rules, communication by email or collab systems, etc.

Where people are involved doing Barely Repeatable Processes I see "work" as twofold - one part to actually deliver value to the customer and one part to make the flow/process happen. The latter part so far being necessary as this is still a manual process only supported by "efficient" reporting, communication and organising tools.

What's interesting is that the latter part, making the flow happen, takes up about 2/3rd of the time and effort, leaving only 1/3rd to actual value creation. Add that it's not necessarily creative work hence not fulfilling, and a never ending source of conflict, politics and sand-in-the-machinery.

Taking a clue from the industrial world, not their tools and methods, one should automate the "flow work", the dumb and non-value-creation work and spend that freed time and resources on value creation instead.

And that's doable using new technology (that's what our little firm is doing) as long as one is willing to recognise that most of what we do is basically waste and that the old methods and framework could be replaced. Which of course is a tough one, but if done could triple effectiveness of many organisations (at least the BRP areas).

With a proper modern framework things becomes easier in regards "work design", being freed from the "flow" work constraints new business models and ways of working would be easier to design and try out.

Complexity is another aspect of it as the old frameworks and methods have increased the complexity far beyond the complexity of reality (transaction representation instead of direct representation, rules, strict organisational structures).
If the flow was automated, capture of results and ongoing activities would be available to all, all pertinent information delivered with the task - and with full transparency for all information in context - and that's when patterns can be found allowing people to become even better. Not to talk about increasing the Intellectual Capital of the organisation by every activity done.

jackvinson

That's odd. Commenting seems to be working okay now. Maybe I clicked on a different button.

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