Thursday, July 24, 2008

Focus on EA is inversely proportional to the need for EA

Focus on EA seems inversely proportional to the need for EA.

The potential value that enterprise modelling and knowledge management (EMKM) can brings to decision making is dependent on the size of the enterprise, the complexity of the enterprise and the rate of change.

If the enterprise is very small e.g. a couple of people the knowledge that exists is held in a few heads (often one or two). If the enterprise is very simple the knowledge can be held in a few heads. However for most large enterprises the knowledge actually resides with many people.

If the rate of change is very slow one has the time to try and slowly bring together the knowledge from the many people e.g. and produce a 5 year planning (or perhaps an annual plan). Communist states 5 years plans demonstrated that this method of planning doesn't respond well to rapid change.

The actual value that EMKM brings to decision making is a function of the scope and range of use. The function is probably a product function (rather than a sum function). The range of use can be considered to be the percentage of the people in the enterprise with knowledge who contribute. The scope of use can be considered to be breadth of the areas of topics of use.

The problem that occurs in large complex organisations is that they develop bureaucracies and silos.

EMKM for decision making is only required if there is to be change. If the status quo is to remain few decisions are required.

An instance of a bureaucracy is an organism and like any organism it seeks self preservation. Change could jeopardize the particular instance of a bureaucracy e.g. make it unfit for purpose. So change is in general to be avoided by a bureaucracy – unless the bureaucracy changes itself 1st to suit the future state. Unfortunately this is usually slow for real world change. As knowledge is power when it comes to decision making - the bureaucracy wants to have that power i.e. retain the knowledge. So a bureaucracy doesn't want knowledge to exist independent of the bureaucracy. Fortunately for the bureaucracy large organisations tend to be hierarchically structured with increasingly specialized functions – which effectively form silos of knowledge. These silos can easily be kept isolated if documents are used to retain as much knowledge as possible (e.g. powerpoints, word documents etc.).

Now if there is a slow of range – then people have the time to think, to consider things, including how to better manage the knowledge they need to make decisions. If on the other hard the rate of change is high – people have an imperative to act – and they don’t have the time to think about how to make better decisions. They need to decide what to do immediately.

So we can see that the organisations that most need EMKM – large, complex with high rates of change are precisely those organisations who will resist better approaches to EMKM.

Where there is little need for EA because things are fairly static - there is a reasonable focus on it (because key people have time to think). Where there is a great for EA because there is a lot of change being envisaged (growth or shrinkage, investment or divestment, risks) there is no time for it because people just want to act.

1 comment:

Mike B said...

Replace 'EA' with 'thinking' and you have uncovered a universal truth :-)