Activity vs Behaviour Snippet

Activity vs. Behaviour

Section Last Updated 17-Dec-2015 12:51

All behaviour is activity, but not all activities are behaviours: behaviour requires the identification of an entity to which the activity can be attributed; activity does not.

Examples:

  • “The lioness is creeping through the long grass.” describes a behaviour: the lioness is attributed the activity
  • “Some of the long grass is waving.” describes an activity: some grass is not an entity to which the activity can be attributed
  • “There is movement in the long grass.” is ambiguous: “in” suggests that only part of the long grass is moving, but it is not well-identified enough to be an entity; but, if the emphasis were on “the long grass”, suggesting a defined border separating long grass from shorter grass, the long grass might be in fact be an entity in its own right1If this type of ambiguity (not some actual threatening movement in long grass somewhere) turns out to be a significant problem for anybody I would a) be surprised b) like to know about it. .

Notes   [ + ]

1.If this type of ambiguity (not some actual threatening movement in long grass somewhere) turns out to be a significant problem for anybody I would a) be surprised b) like to know about it.

Goals vs Objectives Snippet

Goals & Objectives

Section Last Updated 17-Dec-2015 12:51

Goals and objectives are usually considered to be fundamentally different; they are not. Goals and objectives are both relationships between outcomes and performers and, ideally, rationales.

The distinction between them reflects the different values that a single outcome may have to different performers; a desired outcome might be a goal for one person and an objective to another.

A goal is something worth achieving in its own right; an objective is worth achieving only to the extent that it contributes to the ultimate achievement of a goal. In other words, goals reflect the intrinsic value of something to someone, whereas objectives reflect conditional value.

Examples and Commentary

For example, suppose there were a project to develop a new direct marketing mailshot system with two sub-projects: one to collect and store information on addressees and one to select and mail particular addressees based on campaign objectives and demographic criteria. To the business as a whole, the successful completion of the new direct marketing system is a goal and the successes of the two sub-projects are objectives: neither project delivers business value on its own.

However, to the sub-project managers, the successes of their projects are goals: it is the project manager’s job to see that a project’s objectives are met.

Whilst in this case it could be said that the sub-project managers might also be given success of the overall project as goals in order to encourage effective collaboration, in principle someone who has an outcome as a goal may have no idea how their success or failure might specifically affect a higher-level organisational objective.

From a modelling perspective, mutability of goals and objectives is a problem unless they are recognised as different facets of the same underlying thing (an outcome) and modelled as relationships,; because the same outcome has different values to different performers, models that omit the outcome per se and instead describe it from particular perspectives as either a goal or an objective obscure the commonality of the outcome and impede the coherent integration of those models.

The Importance of Rationales

Business cases and strategies deal with goals, but when one has limited resources or time (or both) one must often choose between or prioritise the achievement of a set of goals; then it is most helpful to understand why individuals goals have particular values so that they can be prioritised, i.e. so that the most beneficial set compatible with the known constraints can be identified and selected as targets for achievement.

Management & Governance Snippet

Management & Governance

Section Last Updated 17-Dec-2015 12:51

Both the means that management employs for the allocation of resources etc. and the means it may direct others to use may be specified and subject to constraints; the execution of management tasks is itself also subject to management.

This management of management is defined as Governance.

It follows from this idea of governance as “management of management” that, in addition to being concerned with situations beyond the mandated scope of control of the management process being managed, governance also monitors and compares actual and desired outcomes; but for governance, outcomes are also defined in terms of demonstrated compliance with the policies, rules and procedures established for management of whatever kind.

Governance must therefore establish what aspects of management practice are to be monitored, how compliance is to be evaluated and how deviations are to be addressed.

Governance is therefore also implicitly involved in establishing the values, principles and procedures of management.

However, since management is ultimately concerned with the achievement of desired outcomes, monitoring is only the first enabling element of governance; governance must also direct.

With reference to the approaches to directing change, if change can be directed within implicit or explicit constraints on resources, time etc. the choice of direction remains a standard management responsibility.

If however change cannot be directed within those constraints, or there is a need to change the ultimate objective of the management activity (or the level of acceptable risk), the choice of direction must be undertaken by governance.

We should also note in passing that there must ultimately be a level of strategic management that concerns itself not only with what changes should be made but in defining the values and principles according to which the desirability of any particular change can be evaluated.

To summarise,

  • Standard day-to-day activities are subject to operational management, which works to deliver desired outcomes
  • Operational management must be in accordance with specified means (policies, rules, processes, standards etc.)
  • The definition and application of the specified means for operational management is the responsibility of governance
  • Strategic Management defines values and principles to be used in evaluating change, as well as setting specific high-level objectives

There may be multiple levels of management in an organisation: any level that manages a lower level of management executes governance of that level, and any level that is managed by a higher level of management is governed by that higher level.

Parts vs Attributes Snippet

Parts vs Attributes

Section Last Updated 17-Dec-2015 12:51

An animal may have legs, a car may have wheels; are legs and wheels attributes or (component) parts?

Firstly, we can say that whilst legs and wheels can be observed, they are not observables: observables are intrinsic characteristics such as length or mass, whose values are independent of any entity identification. However, in order to be able to say, “There’s a leg,” one must have performed an identification whose result is “leg”. Therefore, since one cannot refer to (point at) specific legs or wheels without having previously circumscribed and identified them as entities, they are not independent of identification and so cannot be observables as defined.

Could legs or wheels be tags, the only other kind of characteristic, instead?

Again the answer is no. A tag says something about an entity; what does a leg say about an animal it belongs to other than, “I am the leg of…”, which is clearly a relationship – and relationships require the identification of entities. For “I am the leg of…” to make sense, the leg has to be an identifiable entity, and if it’s an identifiable entity then the most natural conclusion is that it’s a part.

Thus, anything that can be identified as an entity within another entity is a part and not an attribute of the latter.

That having been said, the number of legs possessed by an animal is a characteristic: legs can be counted and thus number of legs is an observable.

Note also that an attribute may itself be compound: the (physical) size of an object might be specified in terms of length, width and height and these might be individual attributes or they might be grouped together as a single size attribute with slots for the three individual values. When an attribute has parts, the parts are not attributes of the attribute, they are just parts of it – but they are attributes of the object, i.e. any part of a compound attribute of an entity is also an attribute of that entity.

Discussion of how one distinguishes an intrinsic, dependent part (such as my liver) from an independent part (the marble I swallowed for a dare) is deferred to another time.

Procedures vs Processes Snippet

Procedure vs. Process

Section Last Updated 17-Dec-2015 12:51

Compare the following procedure and process for making an omelette.

A procedure outlines a sequence of steps and says what should be done without reference to who performs individual steps; the process introduces the performers, who may be defined in terms of roles or individuals according to context.

This is part of a procedure for making an omelette,

Step 1: Open fridge

Step 2: Collect 1 dozen eggs

Step 3: Collect mixing bowl >=1L capacity

Step 4: Break eggs into bowl

Step 5: Beat eggs…

This is part of the omelette making process that implements the omelette-making procedure in the context of a small non-domestic kitchen with two staff roles, the Cook and the Kitchen Assistant.

Step 1: Kitchen Assistant opens fridge

Step 2: Kitchen Assistant collects 1 dozen eggs

Step 3: Kitchen Assistant collects mixing bowl >=1L capacity

Step 4: Kitchen Assistant gives bowl & eggs to Cook

Step 5: Cook breaks eggs into bowl

Step 6: Cook beats eggs…

Notice that Step 4 in the process is a new step that deals with a change in performer, which can only occur when performers have been specified. A process is therefore necessarily more detailed insofar as it must deal with changes of performer. The orchestration of a process therefore includes management of roles and individuals.

ISO Alignment

Note that according to ISO, process is whatever actually happens and procedure is the documented description of a process. One can ask (in ISO terms) what the process for something is without there necessarily being a procedure for it, but if the question is answered (i.e. other than by pointing at the process in progress) a procedure will have been created (though it may not be formal.)

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