RE: [unrev-II] How Businesses Work

From: Bernie DeKoven (
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 12:07:04 PST

From: "Bernie DeKoven" <>

In my experience, B and C type organizations are usually temporary, and are
sponsored by either cross-departmental or cross-industrial initiatives. I
agree that even these (at least in terms of the social structure of
membership) tend to become experienced as A organizations. But their
function, which they often perform quite well, is B or C.

On the other hand, what we see on the net -- the hundreds of thousands of
virtual communities -- seem to be all C or B, and very rarely actually A. In
fact, much of my on-line work, oddly enough, is in support of A-type virtual

Go figure.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ ----- Bernie DeKoven -----

  -----Original Message-----
  From: Eric Armstrong []
  Sent: Friday, January 21, 2000 6:26 PM
  To: unrev2
  Subject: [unrev-II] How Businesses Work

  From: "Eric Armstrong" <>

  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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