In his 2013 article on Achieving Operational Excellence, Andrew Spanyi quotes an unnamed CIO saying operational excellence is in our DNA. Spanyi goes on to criticize this CIO’s version of operational excellence, which was based on limited and inadequat…
The concepts of net-centricity, information superiority and power to the edge emerged out of the US defence community about twenty years ago, thanks to some thought leadership from the Command and Control Research Program (CCRP). One of the routes of t…
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If we want to build a data-driven business, we need to appreciate the various roles that data and intelligence can play in the business – whether improving a single business service, capability or process, or improving the business as a whole. The exam…
Ten years ago, the editor of Wired Magazine published an article claiming the end of theory. “With enough data, the numbers speak for themselves.”The idea that data (or facts) speak for themselves, with no need for interpretation or analysis, is a comm…
@NilsPratley blames delusion in the boardroom (on a grand scale, he says) for Carillion’s collapse. “In the end, it comes down to judgments made in the boardroom.”A letter to the editor of the Financial Times agrees.”This situation has been caused, in …
Is there a fundamental flaw in AI implementation, as @jrossCISR suggests in her latest article for Sloan Management Review? She and her colleagues have been studying how companies insert value-adding AI algorithms into their processes. A critical succe…
In his 1967 book on Organizational Intelligence, Harold Wilensky praises President Franklin Roosevelt for his unorthodox but apparently effective management style.”Roosevelt devised an administrative structure that would baffle any conventional student…
In his 1967 book on Organizational Intelligence, Harold Wilensky praises President Franklin Roosevelt for his unorthodox but apparently effective management style.
“Roosevelt devised an administrative structure that would baffle any conventional student of public administration.” (p53)
. @tonyjoyce Roosevelt set up “constructive rivalry … structuring work so that clashes would be certain”. Wilensky on #orgintelligence pic.twitter.com/MczcrYlypI
— Richard Veryard (@richardveryard) April 8, 2017
A horrible management technique designed to keep your subordinates so busy fighting with each other they can’t challenge you for leadership https://t.co/WSOiHagBOx
— Jon H Ayre (@EnterprisingA) April 8, 2017
In contrast with FDR’s approach, Wilensky notes some episodes where White House intelligence systems were not fit for purpose, including Korea (Truman) and the Bay of Pigs (Kennedy).
What about President Trump’s approach? @tonyjoyce suggests that Trump is failing FDR’s first construct – checking and balancing official intelligence vs unorthodox sources. However, Reuters (via the Guardian) quotes Republican strategist Charlie Black, who believes Trump’s White House reflects his traditional approach to running his business. “He’s always had a spokes-to-the-wheel management style,” said Black. “He wants people with differing views among the spokes.“
Reuters, Kushner and Bannon agree to ‘bury the hatchet’ after White House peace talks (Guardian, 9 April 2017)
Various concerns have been raised about Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, previously described as “disruptive” by a former Pentagon official, and now the subject of heated investigation and speculation around his short-lived role in the Trump administration, his…
Various concerns have been raised about Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, previously described as “disruptive” by a former Pentagon official, and now the subject of heated investigation and speculation around his short-lived role in the Trump administration, his alleged links with Russia and other countries, and his alleged obsessions about various topics.
According to the Guardian, US and UK intelligence officers were also anxious about Flynn’s capacity for “linear thought”.
I guess most people will interpret this concern as “insufficient capacity”. When I searched for “linear thinking” on the internet, I found a number of pages that contrasted linear thinking with various forms of supposedly bad thinking, such as “fragmented thinking”. I also found pages that tried to divide people into two camps – the scientific “leftbrain” types who think in straight lines, and the artistic “rightbrain” types who think in circles.
However, systems thinkers might be concerned about someone at that level having too much capacity for linear thought. (As one might be concerned about someone’s capacity for gossip or deception.) In a previous post on this blog, I defended Flynn’s former boss, Gen. Stanley McChrystal (labelled an “ill-fated iconoclast” by James Kitfield) against the claim that he was not a systems thinker. (This claim was based on a remark McChrystal had made about a subsequently notorious systems dynamics diagram. I argued that McChyrstal’s remark could have been made either by someone who doesn’t get systems thinking, or at the other extreme by someone who really gets systems thinking.)
The question here is about greater or lesser capacity for various kinds of thinking, because I’m trying to avoid the fallacy (identified by @cybersal) of categorizing people as this or that type of thinker. She rightly insists on seeing systems thinking not as an all-or-nothing affair but “as a lens to be applied in a particular type of situation”.
By the way, Flynn himself has appeared on this blog before. In January 2010, using the lens of organizational intelligence, I reviewed his report on Fixing Intel. While I was sceptical about some of his recommendations, I can affirm that the report showed considerable capacity for systems (non-linear) thinking. Make of that what you will.
Phillip Carter, What is Michael Flynn’s game? (Slate, 31 March 2017)
Luke Harding et al, Michael Flynn: new evidence spy chiefs had concerns about Russian ties (Guardian, 31 March 2017)
James Kitfield, Flynn’s Last Interview: Iconoclast Departs DIA With A Warning (Breaking Defense, 7 August 2014)
Stanley McChrystal, The military case for sharing knowledge (TED2014, March 2014)
Stan McChrystal, Career Curveballs: No Longer A Soldier (22 April 2014)
Greg Miller and Adam Goldman, Head of Pentagon intelligence agency forced out, officials say (Washington Post, 30 April 2014)
In his 1967 book on Organizational Intelligence, Harold Wilensky praised President Roosevelt for maintaining a state of creative tension in the US administration. Wilensky reckoned that this enabled FDR to get a more accurate and rounded account of …