Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Perspective in Depth

As the systems thinking pioneer Gregory Bateson pointed out, there is an important difference between seeing with one eye and seeing with two. With monocular vision even the much prized Big Picture can be merely a flat and featureless panorama. Binocular vision affords a sense of depth and contour, and enhances the view.

When I wrote recently about the "What the Business Wants" viewpoint, Nick Gall challenged me to state whether I was referring to nominal purpose or defacto purpose (POSIWID). My answer was that the "What the Business Wants" viewpoint gave us a vantage point from which we could view both nominal purposes and defacto purposes at the same time, and appreciate the rich dependencies and contradictions between them.

So what happens when I apply the same thinking to the other five viewpoints? Each viewpoint has a monocular version (simple, linear) and a binocular version (rich, multi-dimensional). Here are a few key differences.

Flat Rounded Links
Strategic View What the Business Wants Nominal purpose
Nominal strategy
Defacto purpose
Emergent strategy
Enterprise POSIWID
Capability View How the Business Does Operational capability
Hard dependencies
Top-down leadership
Sociotechnical capability and competency
Soft dependencies
Edge leadership

Activity View What the Business Does Linear synchronous process (value chain) Asynchronous collaboration (value network) Changing Conceptions of Business Process
Knowledge View What the Business Knows Formal information systems Informal information systems
Appreciative systems

Management View How the Business Thinks Goal-directed behaviour
Management by objectives
Single loop learning
First order cybernetics (VSM)
Second-order cybernetics (Bateson/Maturana)
Double-loop and deutero learning
Organizations as Brains
Organization View What the Business Is Enterprise Business-as-a-Platform

But how should I label the two columns? Should I succumb to the temptation to label the first column "traditional"? Any suggestions?

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