Enterprise Transformation

A Pragmatic Approach Using POET


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The Domain Blindness barrier to getting an Enterprise to mature its Transformation capability is that people simply cannot see the Transformation domain.

People are so used to thinking of an Enterprise in terms of the Business and IT, that any attempt to get them to see the Transformation domain (which first requires them to ditch the Business/IT in favour of seeing DOTS) is very difficult. It is like they are so used to thinking of the Enterprise as a square, that it is very difficult for them to understand that the square they are used to seeing is actually one face of a cube. It is the same as a MagicEye picture where most people can only see the picture shown and find it very difficult to see past that to the actual image. Even when people can glimpse the image, their brain is constantly pulling them back to the “easy” and old way of thinking. Seeing requires a considerable amount of effort, coupled with the will to invest it.

Many runners speak of “The Wall” which refers to a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy. It is a pain barrier, effectively a warning from our bodies to tell us to stop, but to win the race you must push though this wall. The appearance of a wall is not considered a reason to give up, it is seen as a reminder to push through that wall to win the race. (I shall end the analogy there before we get into other less savoury maladies such as joggers nipple!)

Some walls are placed there by the context we work within and others we build for ourselves, sometimes without us even knowing it. As Pink Floyd said, “All in all it was all just bricks in the wall.” Even things which we consider to be positives like knowledge, experience and age can have negative influences. As we get older we can begin to be constrained by what we know and our own thinking. Our own knowledge becomes a wall that we need to break out of. Seeing new things becomes much more difficult than when we were young and unconstrained by experience and knowledge.

Understanding (and therefore applying) the Ontologies and Frameworks that are part of PF2 requires seeing through the wall. Recognising that seeing a wall is not inherently a bad thing. A wall should not be considered to be a dead end. A wall should drive you to find out what is on the other side of that wall. But it’s not easy. It’s a bit like being able to see better in the dark. The human eye has rods and cones. Cones are more proficient at colour detection, whereas rods are better for low light and detecting movement. Rods and cones are not distributed evenly throughout the retina though. In the small area on the back of the eye opposite the pupil there are only cones. Therefore, when trying to see in low light, trying to look directly at what you want to see is exactly the wrong thing to do. You need to look past or to the side of it, and “look at it” via your peripheral vision. Obviously, this takes a great deal of practice for most people.

This brings to mind Gooches Paradox:

“Things not only have to be seen to be believed, but also have to be believed to be seen.“

- Stan Gooch

I would suggest an “improvement” to that:

“To believe you must see, but to see you must want to believe. And some people are so committed to not wanting to believe that they will never see.”

- Pragmatic

“There is none so blind as those that will not see” and “You can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink” are well known sayings that intimate that someone is refusing to see and cannot be helped anymore. These people cannot be helped and any attempt to do so is futile. However, I prefer to say “There is none so blind as those that can see” meaning there are many people that have no problem seeing things and therefore when they cannot see something, they assume it must be because it either does not exist or is of no consequence. We can help these people. This is the same point of view that a rabbit has just before it stops being a rabbit and starts being an unsightly stain on the road.

Take the statement made by Donald Rumsfeld in February 2002:

“Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know.”

- Donald Rumsfeld

(United States Secretary of Defense 2001-2006)

It was met by much merriment by the assembled journalists and screened round the world as an example of a stupid man saying stupid things. However, the most famous unknown unknown, turned out to be the 911 attacks in September of 2001. In spite of this it still earned him the “Foot in Mouth” award in 2003 from Plain English Campaign. Although, what he said was of monumental importance, it was largely lost in the childish and puerile glee of most of the world. The point being made, is the same as the point being made here - “there are things we don’t know we don't know”. It is a fact. Worse than that, there are also “unknown knowns” - things that we know but have forgotten, more worryingly, chosen to forget, or more likely things that we think we know, but in reality do not - but we don’t know!

¨      known, knowns - things we know that we know.

¨      known, unknowns - things we know that we don't know.

¨      unknown, unknowns - things we don't know that we don't know.

¨      unknown, knowns - things that we know but have forgotten or chosen to forget.

You need to look at the Ontologies and Frameworks that are part of PF2 using your peripheral vision to understand where it fits and how it can help. Look closer. Relax. Don’t look at the wall, look through the wall. This book can help you as much as it can but it cannot see past the wall for you.

Only you can do that.

An Enterprise will only adopt the Ontologies and Frameworks that are part of PF2, if management invests enough time to see the problem.

It is a lot easier to say a problem doesn't exist, them to actually try and solve it.


Questions to ponder...

Can you see past the wall?

There is something to be seen but are you open to seeing it?

Are you too busy to see it?

How much time will you invest to see it?

How will you discover the things that you don’t know that you don’t know?

Is this Someone Else’s Problem?

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