9 years, 1 month ago

Perspective in Depth

As the systems thinking pioneer Gregory Bateson pointed out, there is an important difference between seeing with one eye and seeing with two. With monocular vision even the much prized Big Picture can be merely a flat and featureless panorama. Binocular vision affords a sense of depth and contour, and enhances the view.

When I wrote recently about the “What the Business Wants” viewpoint, Nick Gall challenged me to state whether I was referring to nominal purpose or defacto purpose (POSIWID). My answer was that the “What the Business Wants” viewpoint gave us a vantage point from which we could view both nominal purposes and defacto purposes at the same time, and appreciate the rich dependencies and contradictions between them.

So what happens when I apply the same thinking to the other five viewpoints? Each viewpoint has a monocular version (simple, linear) and a binocular version (rich, multi-dimensional). Here are a few key differences.

Strategic ViewWhat the Business WantsNominal purpose
Nominal strategy
Defacto purpose
Emergent strategy
Enterprise POSIWID
Capability ViewHow the Business DoesOperational capability
Hard dependencies
Top-down leadership
Sociotechnical capability and competency
Soft dependencies
Edge leadership
Activity ViewWhat the Business DoesLinear synchronous process (value chain)Asynchronous collaboration (value network)Changing Conceptions of Business Process
Knowledge ViewWhat the Business KnowsFormal information systemsInformal information systems
Appreciative systems
Management ViewHow the Business ThinksGoal-directed behaviour
Management by objectives
Single loop learning
First order cybernetics (VSM)
Second-order cybernetics (Bateson/Maturana)
Double-loop and deutero learning
Organizations as Brains
Organization ViewWhat the Business IsEnterpriseBusiness-as-a-Platform

But how should I label the two columns? Should I succumb to the temptation to label the first column “traditional”? Any suggestions?