Introduction to the evolution of our science
Ever since the “Scientific Revolution” at the turn of last century, those working to enhance organizational effectiveness have been researching how to divide work into organizational structure that succeeds. Labor was divided into chains that could be optimized for production and the revolution was on.
Other revolutions have come and gone along with the growing science. The humanists coming out of World War II had us believing that happy workers are more productive workers. However, we have learned since in behavioral science it is the other way around: productive workers make for more happy workers. Hence, the next revolution was underway asking the question: “how can we design organizations so the people in it can be successful and thereby happy?”
The W. Edwards Deming Revolution late last century taught us that the key to all business is driven by their ability to exceed the expectations of their customers. We realized that customer behavior is what drives all growth and therefore we need to research what drives customer behaviors. The premise is that customers are trying to achieve something in their life or business. If we give those customers the opportunity to succeed, then they will provide the means for our own business to succeed. Researchers then sought to determine the “Voice of the Customer” and drive this knowledge into the very foundation of business.
Deming also taught us that individual performance varies and our business results vary with it. Researchers sought to measure and manage behavioral variance. The influence of B.F. Skinner brought about a behavioral science that studied how to shape the environment to get the behaviors we want. If the organization is designed so that behaviors are specified, can be practiced with feedback, and lead to meaningful performance then behavioral variance is minimized, results surge, and workers enjoy their mission-driven jobs. We found you can also increase variance in behavior as well through different processes when you want your workers to be innovative and engage in situational awareness.
At the turn of this century, another revolution was brewing. Seminal work by Geary Rummler, Dale Brethower, and Maria Malott allowed us to recognize that the best workers will always get beat by a bad process. Stated more positively, we started understanding how to build good processes to optimize the behavior of our workers. Good processes, however, could be beat by a bad system that was not aligned with the mission of the organization. So researchers started asking how the different divisions of the organization, conceived of back in the Scientific Revolution, could be aligned… aligned with what? The Voice of the Customer. Any organization is conceived of as a system made up of many parts containing processes… those processes containing tasks performed using human behavior… all aligned to provide the customer with the opportunity to succeed.
It can all be very complex. We wrote about it along with other scientists in our book Understanding Complexity in Organizations: Behavioral Systems. We’ve researched and tested new methods to assess organizational systems (from macro to micro) to design functional relationships that drive unified processes. We learned how to design these processes to deliver critical interlocking behavioral performance in meta-contingencies all targeting customer opportunity and positive organizational externalities.
Fortunately you don’t have to learn and understand all these scientific terms… we’ve boiled this complexity down into the critical questions a business owner has to ask to get the benefits of extensive research. Join us in this revolution to take the complexity out of organizational systems with tools that help you focus on what matters for the growth of your business.