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Suboptimization is a flagrant and serious violation of systems principles. For example, running a duct through a closet to install an air conditioning system makes the closet worse less space to hang clothes but the house better. These obvious and familiar examples are first cousins of much more complex and less intuitive choices when large numbers of interacting parts are involved.
But unless the enterprise is merely a holding company, the same principle applies: never optimize its subordinate parts. The result was a less competitive and ultimately less profitable bid. This TED talk by Simon Sinek is about starting with purpose rather than product , capability , or provider rewards in formulating organizational strategy. Sinek asserts that the key to success is having both seller and buyer share a common understanding of why the provider wants to offer something.
And it is not clear that Sinek has thought about purpose with the rigor that systems thinking provides. A business can be measured and rewarded on the basis of growth, profit, and market value, while focusing the sales function on customer benefits. The best industrial age example of this was this was the way Thomas J. Watson ran IBM. Here it is verbatim:. It is difficult to imagine a more succinct, actionable and customer-driven sales strategy. In fact, both TJ Watson and his son were customer-back zealots, and would intervene personally in cases where a customer was not realizing the benefits they had been promised.
It now includes discussion of an enhanced case management approach to the delivery of disease treatment.
Case management is not new, but applying the principles of adaptive design to case management is new. A system design that incorporates education and prevention elements with disease management capabilities transforms disease management into health management. Electronic technologies may well have as large an impact on how humans think, organize and manage as did the printing press and the scratch plow. The ability of Watson to win against the all-time Jeopardy champions was impressive. But John Baldoni, senior vice president for technology and science at GlaxoSmithKline had an interesting insight two years ago as he watched Watson consistently come up with right answers faster.
These choices are presumably made by people in a decision-support role for other roles that will decide whether or not to act on those conclusions and recommendations. In practice, a second tier of Watson-enabled decision-support offers a potentially substantial boost in the quality of operational role decision-making.
A bad customer experience that occurred earlier this month sheds light on the damage done by the widespread bureaucratic practice of asking the parts of an organization to meet or exceed their targets. Here are her remarks at the award ceremony:.
I met Steve at an impressionable time. I was new in my position as CEO of DSC and looking for answers that would help me transform the company into the business I knew it could be. I was on an airplane and started talking to the person sitting next to me. She told me I had to learn about Steve Haeckel because he was developing the most revolutionary concepts about how to make an enterprise able to adapt to unpredictable change.
So, I read his articles and I attended his sessions. And his thinking has influenced me and all of us at DSC for nearly two decades. Back in the early s, people were not anticipating the kinds of changes we all would face…but Steve Haeckel was. And he was right! And he continues to churn out ideas that will impact our future.
Steve, for all your bold and innovative thinking, we are proud to present you with the Thinkers and Movers Award.
March 15, 2016
Cebrowski reported to the Secretary of Defense. His mission was to transform the US military into a Network Centric force with the following capabilities:. Project leadership was assigned to Navy Captain Linda Lewandowski see her entry on the Expertise page. Lewandowski and Cebrowski decided that the managerial framework articulated in Adaptive Enterprise would be used as the conceptual underpinning of the project, and that the initial application would be to logistics.
According to Russell Ackoff, a principle figure in the development of General Systems Theory, a dilemma is a problem that cannot be solved within the current framework. And here are some that make sense in the efficiency — but not in the adaptive — paradigm:. Calling for behaviors in the first list while adhering to the second list creates unsolvable problems for people in the organization.
It is managerial malpractice. He saw in it a systematic and structured approach to managing the way he was naturally inclined to, but was constantly frustrated in implementing. Forno was definitely not the only frustrated IBM manager. IBM leadership, like that of many other large organizations, issued frequent and earnest calls for One Team, empowered, customer-centric, innovative and collaborative behavior. The incompatibility between what they were calling for and a management system that relentlessly defeated such initiatives was not lost on them, but was taken as a given to be somehow surmounted by managerial heroics.
Yet senior management was truly shocked by an external consultant report of how much business was lost by internal debates over revenue and cost allocations. However, I will check with him if you want.
At which point his boss told Forno in so many words that he was henceforth to report in more traditional ways. His experiences and results are described in this paper. It consists of an object such as an observation ; a framework such as a theory, algorithm or statistical model ; and an association between the two. Weick is a sociologist, but apparently physicists and mathematicians have long cautioned that data unsupported by an appropriate theory is every bit as bad as, and frequently worse than, a theory without supporting experimental proof.
A recent example is a September, report by a scientific team that they had experimental evidence of neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. In other words, the lack of an appropriate framework literally rendered the experimental result meaningless. Cherry — picking data to support a bias is a well known practice that is rightfully scorned but rarely abandoned.
Jumping to conclusions about the implications of new data before they have been associated with an appropriate model is equally prevalent, and equally dangerous. Any system of any type survives only by successfully iterating through the adaptive Sense-Interpret-Decide-Act cycle. Without a framework interpretation is impossible and data are meaningless. Without an appropriate framework data are useless…. A particularly vicious Trojan was inserted into the code of this site.
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This was detected by Google, and the site was designated as unsafe for visitors for a number of days. The malware has been removed, and the site is now safe for browsing. For slime molds, mobility is the emergent strategy and finding food the emergent purpose. The adaptive capacity of single-cell organisms has led to an impressive span of survival for slime molds and its amoebic components over a billion years.
Sub-optimization is a hallmark of most large industrial era businesses. Becoming a profit center is considered a goal — even a reward— for the parts of many businesses. People get bonuses for exceeding their targets. These are destructive behaviors for the system, and therefore ultimately for its parts. Collaboration entails sacrifices. And it is often necessary to reduce the performance of some elements of a system in order to improve the performance of the system—a behavior that business reward structures almost always discourage.
It is succinct and accurate. In his critical review of The Company of the Future by Frances Cairncross, Craig Henry takes direct aim at the widely held assumption that advances in technology are the drivers of business transformation. He holds that the actual initiators of transformation are the humans who use technology to augment their ability to derive meaning out of the torrents of data that technology fosters.
In his epistemological hierarchy he argues that information is created when context is applied to data. Only then are patterns and relationships discerned and meaning inferred. Computers and networks let us amass and retrieve torrents of data but in themselves do not provide context, interpretation, or theory. For those, human thought is required; and computers, so far, have shown limited leverage over these matters.
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The barrier to this seems to be insurmountable. As Haeckel argues, the very act of codifying knowledge so that it can be exploited by computer systems and communications networks changes knowledge into information.
Almost all of the data relate to internal operational matters of the business. The insights of Haeckel, Drucker, and Crockett are a powerful argument against the …. Republished here with permission. A hosting problem, apparently associated with a corrupted update of WordPress, has been corrected. The fix required manual changes to hundreds of links on this site, all of which have been we think completed.
HMAS Watson History
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