THE THINKING DOMAIN
Just as in the Action domain we are concerned with the relations between tasks and what other tasks they depend on, in the Thinking domain we deal with the relations between Information items and what other information items they depend on. We will use the two domains together, but we must generally work in the Thinking domain before we consider making plans in the Action domain.
The clue to this new way of solving problems and hence to this new way of thinking about business organizations comes from focusing on this dependence of information items on other items.
WHAT WILL THIS APPROACH DO FOR US?
Before we get into ‘how’ this new approach works, let’s look at ‘why’ we might want to take this approach. Here we make some assertions about what this will do for us. After we consider the ‘how’, you can then decide for yourself whether these assertions are sensible and practical. We emphasize certain words in the following list so the concepts will be conveyed by a quick scan. This new method will:
- ORGANIZE INFORMATION FLOW so it follows a pattern inherent to the problem at hand rather than thrashing through some other, less appropriate hierarchical organizational structure. That older organizational structure can then be absorbed into the new structure rather than having it done away with by fiat so you don’t abandon the lifeboat until you are safely on the ship. This AVOIDS the DELAYS inherent in HIERARCHICAL and BUREAUCRATIC organizations and ALLOWS FLAT ORGANIZATIONS TO GROW yet continue their effectively flat method of operating.
- NOTIFY each person when information they need is available or when it will be available. INFORMATION thus DRIVES THE PROCESS.
- Provide BENEFITS directly TO THOSE WHOSE EFFORTS ARE REQUIRED to make it work, thus MOTIVATING their use of it and INCREASING THE LIKELIHOOD THAT IT WILL BE USED AND MAINTAINED.
- Provide the SITUATION VISIBILITY that makes it easier for everyone to see what needs to be done, when and why. It motivates by showing everyone how they contribute to the whole picture. People are MORE AWARE OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ACTIONS, and these actions are more visible to others, making them more ACCOUNTABLE.
- Provide the MISSING INGREDIENT that makes it more likely to have success when implementing the various ‘new’ proposals being made for flatter organizations, empowerment, accountability, cross-functional teams, and so forth. (As we will see later, these ideas are not very new.)
- Expose ASSUMPTIONS that are otherwise hidden in the Thinking domain so their RISKS can be better managed to shorten project times.
- Show PROGRESS not just by what tasks have been done, but by what no longer depends on unverified assumptions. Progress is what you accomplish, not what you do.
- Provide a forum and a means of representation for people to be able to see the interactions in their work so CROSS-FUNCTIONAL TEAMS can anticipate their constraints early in the project so as to prevent playing 'throw it over the wall' as the work proceeds.
- Open systems to make it EASIER TO LEARN FROM AND SHARE KNOWLEDGE WITH OTHERS. Assumptions show where learning is needed and where it has occurred.
- TAILOR MINI-REVIEWS to the structure of the problem rather than using generic review phases so assumptions and their uncertainties can be resolved earlier, shortening the ‘Assume – Develop Consequences – Review’ cycle to reduce risk, project times and costs.
- TRACE the IMPACTS of CHANGES and NOTIFY everyone whose review is needed or whose work is affected. It also makes it easy to trace sources and consequences of delays.
- HELPS SOLVE COMPLETELY NEW PROBLEMS AS THEY ARISE when you can’t depend on using experience with similar problems from the past.
- REPRESENTS not only the REQUIREMENTS, BUT ALSO THE PROCESS whereby the process whereby the requirements are to be realized.
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