Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Intentional management 32: contextual management 10 and evolutionary and revolutionary change 5

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on June 2, 2016

This is my 32nd installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-31.) This is also my tenth installment within this series on an approach to business management that I have come to refer to as contextual management.

I began discussing business processes and systems of successively connected processes in Part 30 where I defined the basic causal elements involved there: sequential causation, concurrent causation and business systems friction-based coincidental co-occurrence. And I discussed how causal maps are assembled from these elements with simple lines of successively connected output to input process connections, process branchings and process joinings. And I continued that line of discussion in Part 31 where I briefly discussed how sudden more punctuated equilibrium model evolutionary change, and gradual evolutionary change that has gone unrecognized until a sudden tipping point has been reached, can fundamentally differ for how they impact on a causal relationships map of a business and its operational processes – and in a way that can offer informative value in addressing sudden-appearing change and its consequences. (I in fact addressed other relevant background issues in those installments too, so I suggest reviewing them as foundation material for this one.)

Then at the end of Part 31, I stated that I would continue its line of discussion here by addressing:

1. The issues of what causality is in terms of facilitating or limiting, and directly causing or preventing specific ranges of outcomes.
2. And the issues of “necessary” and “sufficient” in that context, where an input condition or factor leading into a causal node can be necessary but not sufficient, sufficient but not necessary, or both.
3. And I will, of course, discuss these issues in a longer-term and evolutionary context too (distinguishing between random and non-trending change, and trending change there.)
4. Then after that, to continue this to-address list of discussion points to cover, I will explicitly consider stressors here, and as sources of both challenge and opportunity.

I will start with point number one as offered above, and by reconsidering here what the basic causal map building blocks are, repeating the basic definitions of them as offered in Part 30:

• Sequential causal relationships where for example event A directly causes B and that in turn directly causes C. A and C, and of course B as well are all directly causally connected to each other.
• Concurrent causal relationships where for example A directly causes B and also directly causes C; B in and of itself does not in any way directly cause C in this situation and C does not cause B either, but they are indirectly causally related by virtue of their causal connection through A having happened.
• And coincidental co-occurrence (where that might at least initially appear to represent a causal relationship), that arises as a manifestation of business systems friction: communications failures and gaps in necessary information available and that constitutes what amounts to static in these systems.

Both sequential causation and concurrent causation change the likelihood of some temporally subsequent event happening, and any possible subsequent events that are causally connected to it. But the influence offered in changing that likelihood can be either facilitating or inhibiting. Event A, to couch this in simple sequential causation terms, can make some event B more likely, or its occurrence can reduce the probability that B happens or even effectively render it an impossibility.

I have written of concurrent causality as creating branching points where process alternatives can and do arise. This in practice can mean that an event A and the process that brings it about facilitating both some B and some C. Or it can mean A either facilitating and even fully causing either B or C and inhibiting or even frankly preventing the other (as an either/or decision point process to cite the binary all or none option here.) And as a third possibility, this can mean an event A inhibiting or even entirely stopping or preventing both B and C and any other more normally expected next-process steps, as for example when a localized but critical production line breakdown forces the activation of a systems-wide shutdown on an entire assembly line until corrective measures can be taken and safe, effective production can be restored.

Causation maps of the type posed here can also be seen as logical process maps – and when influence there does not just mean fully causing or fully preventing: when simply shifting likelihoods is included, the nodes: the process gates under analysis are not always going to be binary and all or nothing in nature. This expanded range of causal impact possibilities, can more than simply exponentially increase the number of outcomes possible overall in a causality map, as measured in terms of numbers of possible node to node to node decision and outcomes combinations.

How would this approach to business process and complexity be applied in a practical sense? As one possible example there, I note that:

• Effective operational and strategic planning and execution prune down the range of possible process patterns that can and will arise, at least under normative conditions and certainly for a well run business.
• And disruptive events create their uncertainties by pushing a business, or at least some functional area of it into uncharted and unanticipated territory here.

I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will focus on my second to-address point from above:

• The issues of “necessary” and “sufficient” in that context, were an input condition or factor leading into a causal node can be necessary but not sufficient, sufficient but not necessary, or both.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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