[unrev-II] How Businesses Work

From: Eric Armstrong (eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com)
Date: Fri Jan 21 2000 - 18:25:45 PST

From: "Eric Armstrong" <eric.armstrong@eng.sun.com>

Having spent the majority of my adult life in businesses
of one kind or another, I am here to tell you that very
few, if any, fall into the A-B-C model. I don't think this
observation does any serious harm to Doug's presentation
-- the same sequence of improving and improving the
ability to improve still applies -- but it makes a minor
change the way in which we expect to see Doug's model
play out in real life.

First my observations:
   1) Every business is keenly focused on it's "A" activities.
       They all want to serve the customer, make the product,
       rake in the bucks. One highly motivated lot, they are.

   2) Businesses with a focus on "improving their ability to
       carry out their business" (B-activities) are few and
       far between. Virtually *none* want to invest any time
       and energy into it. The risks are simply too great.
       After all, if you dump a lot of resources into such a
       project, you could make your primary business fail!
       If you don't, you may not succeed as well as you
       could, but you probably won't fail to survive, either.

        As a result, most businesses don't mind *acquiring*
        ability-improvement, but they have little interest in
        *developing* it. What typically happens is that a
        few mavericks, or never-satisfied-idealists (I have
        been considered one or the other for most of my
       career) always has their eye out for new and better
       ways of doing things. Every once in a while, they
       succeed in convincing the organization to do it.

       After a few businesses use it successfully, everyone
       decides they have to have one, and they all go out
       and buy it. (The history of the spreadsheet, here.)

       The important point in all this is that is usually *another*
       organization which develops the ability-improvement
       methodology -- and producing that product is it's
       "A" activity.

   3) When it comes to organizations focused on improving
       their capacity to improve....Forget about it. That is
       role would most typically be seen as the province of
       academic institutions -- regardless of whether they
       actually do that.

The impact of those observations is that we would probably
not expect to see A, B, and C activities in the same organization.
Instead, each activity is likely to take place as an "A" activity
in an organization devoted to that purpose

But it also implies that an organization which develops a DKR
might have a relatively easy time selling it corporations who want
to improve their "A" activities. (After the word gets out, that is.)

The DKR development organization can then focus on being
and A and B organization, (making it another organization's B+C).
It will thereby gain the feedback effect of its own efforts, as desired
and, where the serviced organization is itself a NIC, the result will
be the desired meta-NIC.

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