HRQMC Briefing Paper
6 January 2003
Lots of discussion has gone on about handling knowledge as a resource, with little practical suggestion
for front line managers. Telling everyone you are busy managing knowledge will most likely get some
odd looks and a word from the boss about productivity and tending to business!
But there are some useful perspectives and approaches that won’t get you into trouble and can even be
articulated in a briefing to show how aggressive you are about productivity.
In traditional, control/authority forms of management, and even in our new networked, Lean,
organizations, we mostly likely deal with problems and initiatives with ANALYSIS. Elements and
processes are assumed to have definition of themselves, without reference to the larger system they
operate within. Everyone is a specialist. We strive to ensure the availability of necessary skill sets, to
implement lean practices which eliminate waste and reduce time of processes. The results are worth the
effort, but don’t address all the need.
Today, fragmentation is the cornerstone of what it means to be a professional, so much so that we call
ourselves "specialists." Accountants worry about books, operations managers worry about production
and inventory, marketing managers worry about customer base, and nobody worries about the business
as a whole.
Problems like the decline of a corporation's vitality and innovativeness resist piecemeal, analytic
approaches. We continually fragment problems into pieces; yet the major challenges we face in our
organizations and beyond are increasingly systemic.
For example: new technology, a constant feature of our work environment, demands that we
change organizational structure and processes. New equipment means new workforce
organization and staff support, and new ways of working. Computerized communications
means implementing just-in-time material flow. Synthetic materials mean closer tolerances
and a demand for less variance in production flow.
Nature of Change
Analytic methods address the need to outdo the competition and improve value of the organization
through productivity. Analytic methods are the means by which we make the resources we have more
productive. To make those resources do something different, to take advantage of new markets or
overcome a crisis, we need other means.
Big Changes historically occur with 2 characteristics:
1. They affect everything.
2. They demand new methods and tools. Our best tools/skills are developed as useful ways to
deal with the old situation, but that has all changed
Future State Resources Organization to Accomplish
Big Changes Regional Learning
Little Changes Organizational Managed
If your strategy presumes only little changes that can be handled completely within the organization then
you are in for some shocks in the near term. Mergers, technology advances, demographic shifts, terrorist
defense policies, and new competition each portent significant decision making challenges to even small
HRQMC Briefing Paper
6 January 2003
organizations. The life span of any corporation in America is 4 to 5 years. Continuing beyond that
means successfully dealing with a Big Change.
In simple terms this is the offer that cannot be refused. So how best to cope while minimizing cost and
Ways to Change
How to address changes? Two ways: Lineal and Systemic.
Lineal presumes a point of autonomous authority and accountability.
Systemic presumes the capability to exercise judgment and reason at every step and level.
Embodies new capabilities beyond traditional organizations
Build by communities of servant leaders
Arise through performance and practice
Treat process and content as inseparable
Accommodates the danger of learning
Work of the Region - to support Learning Organization structures
Practical Experimentation and Testing
Trends and Characteristics
The future comes out of trends already occurring in our present. We know some features of the future
from these trends, as listed here. In further briefings we'll track the trends and elaborate on what they
Costs will crash
Systems will be customer/user centered and personalized
Operations will become constant - 24/7
Convenience will be a high value
Convergence of technologies will increase convenience, expand capabilities, and lower costs
Expert system empowered processes will develop
Changes can come from anywhere
Resources will seek opportunities anywhere
The rapidity of better, less expensive products will lead to a continued process of replacement
Focus of policy will be on success
Venture capitalists will focus on opportunities
Real breakthroughs will create new products and new expectations
Start small but dream big
Business-to-business is the first big profit opportunity
Applying quality and lean thinking can save enormous amounts
Partnering will be essential