Hierarchies of Understanding:: data is useful, INFORMATION “invaluable”


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I’m as good (or bad) at understanding humans and human learning as the next person! I am not an “educator” just someone who, I suspect (like everyone else), has at some time or other felt swamped: by too much to do; too much to absorb; too little time. We know that people learn in different ways and at different speed and, quite apart from Carpenter & Cannady, there are any number of alternative views on HoU…take your pick!

What I like about the C&C approach is that it reflects an ongoing process – we ARE (or should be) constantly learning – with feedback from our environment shaping our perspectives. On one occasion rendering the “expert” a “novice” and, on another, providing the vital “missing piece” that transforms information to knowledge and, through understanding, to wisdom.

In the beginning was information*…

But, ever the contrarian, I can’t ignore the fact that, the limitations to obtaining data (about anything) pertaining to that which we are observing, are our own!

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Economics and the revolution in the field – LA Times.com


Might this explain the renewed interest in my previous blog “Complexity Economics”!?

modern economics has buried its head in detail but ignored the systematic character of capital flow, he claims, and it is time for a restore an understanding of how capital works

I hope so because, of late I keep coming back to the words of Dave Snowden: “Practice without sound theory does not scale”. Think about the implications for global commerce and the huge number of over-remunerated “experts” that populate, such as, the Financial Sector and you may begin to understand the reason for institutional intransigence in the face of well-founded criticism of theory, practice and culture.

Obviously, the global financial crisis brought the failures of the economics profession into stark relief. But there still hasn’t been a significant public movement of established professional economists away from orthodox theories. However, as the pernicious effects of instability and inequality become part of daily life, frustration with stale economic ideas is starting to turn into action — at least on the part of some.

So this is where economics finds itself today, stuck between failed methodologies and whispered realities. It can continue to produce elegant theorems that work only by ignoring obvious real-world situations and conditions. Or it can break free of its restrictions and apply its rigor to addressing society’s most intractable problems.

The choice is up to the economics establishment. But the revolution has begun.

via Economics and the revolution in the field – latimes.com.

This extract dates back to an article I wrote in 2010:

It is easy to challenge “conventional wisdom” based upon the facts but, as history shows us, change can be vehemently resisted when it comes up against entrenched “belief systems”…particularly when such change presents itself as a threat to those for whom power and wealth (individually and collectively) has derived from their “mastery” of the civilized world as we have come to recognise it.

Public Sector: “complexity paralysis” – creator and casualties


No matter how you express it, in a dynamic (non-linear) system, that is, by definition complex, “what goes around comes around” – the “feedback loop” – complexity begets complexity until the system reaches breaking point – “critical complexity”.

But the closer the system operates to this point the more fragile and unstable it becomes.

Things can, do, get ugly, painful, dangerous and costly on a variety of levels and the impact is felt across domains.

Public Sector: “complexity paralysis” – creator and casualties Image by michael.heiss via Flickr A recent blog about procrastination led me to get this off my mind. It has been rattling around in there for some time… Ever had so much going on in your head that you don’t know what to do first? Too many tasks, too little time: which “master” to satisfy? Every issue or task has its own factors to consider: short term effect; long term impact. Assessing cause and effect or imagining problems, leading you to “f … Read More

via Get “fit for randomness” [with Ontonix UK]

Good Decisions. Bad Outcomes revisited


We can’t entirely avoid outcome-based decisions. Still, we can reduce our reliance on stochastic outcomes. Here are four ways companies can create more-sound reward systems.

1. Change the mind-set. Publicly recognize that rewarding outcomes is a bad idea, particularly for companies that deal in complex and unpredictable environments.

2. Document crucial assumptions. Analyse a manager’s assumptions at the time when the decision takes place. If they are valid but circumstances change, don’t punish her, but don’t reward her, either.

3. Create a standard for good decision making. Making sound assumptions and being explicit about them should be the basic condition for getting a reward. Good decisions are forward-looking, take available information into account, consider all available options, and do not create conflicts of interests.

4. Reward good decisions at the time they’re made. Reinforce smart habits by breaking the link between rewards and outcomes.

The article below is of particular interest to me and my colleagues at Ontonix because it reinforces the approach that we advocate and that is supported by our unique technology.   Business is no longer about linear relationships or processes with the post-industrial resilience suggested by terms like “supply chain”. As was highlighted in this recent blog (video) Eric Berlow: How complexity leads to simplicity, when dealing with the modern [ … Read More

via Get “fit for randomness” [with Ontonix UK]

SWOT analyses: Complex “heart” surgery can’t take months


It doesn’t matter whether it is a business YOU have built from scratch over many years; if it is a business turnaround; introducing Enterprise Risk Management; Corporate Process Management; Operational review, etc. getting to the heart of a complex business is a notoriously slow, painful and potentially costly process.

Financial data will provide little, as it is probably the reason why an exercise is being undertaken!

Qualitative feedback comes with a “tainted” perspective – whether top down or bottom-up – and can say more about the scale of the problem than it does about its nature.

Silos can be difficult to “get inside” or break down.

Buy-in is a whole different ball-game!!!

CHANGE MANAGEMENT ain’t easy and “time is money” that, often, can be ill-afforded.

One sure-fire way of getting insight, that is otherwise unavailable and provides an objective [100% quantitative] is a Complexity Analysis from Ontonix.

SO, if someone tells you “all I want is the best for the business” and that they, their role or their division “…are part of the solution, not the problem” you can test that out by mapping the interdependencies, strengths and weaknesses within the organisation.

Once you measure the health of the system you have a basis for sound, verifiable, decisions that are geared to maintaining, managing or improving the health of the business for its stakeholders.

WITHOUT measurement the complexity of the organisation may be compounded by that of the task: rendering projected timescales, improvements, savings and meaningful (sustainable) change, ineffective OR able, only to be assessed in terms of random outcomes…pot luck!

Good luck with that!

However, if you want to eliminate as much of the uncertainty and risk from these processes as is possible, I would be happy to hear from you. The Ontonix technology is unique: rigorously tested; reliable; effective; quantifiable; verifiable and, depending upon the size of the task, considerably cheaper that deploying a competent person.

Quantitative SWOT analysis Most people in business will have had, at least, a “brush” with an analysis of: STRENGTHS; WEAKNESSES; OPPORTUNITIES; THREATS (SWOT). Done properly, it can be a very useful tool. It can bring focus to key issues for the business to consider, can contribute much to strategic planning, change management and, even, negotiations…EVEN THOUGH, WHEN CARRIED OUT IN-HOUSE, IT IS SUBJECTIVE AND QUALITATIVE! Imagine how POWERFUL it would be if it was: OBJ … Read More

via Get “fit for randomness” [with Ontonix UK]