Friday, 27 April 2007

Is Ignorance Bliss? 4-On Organisational Learning

So how has my world-view come into being? I believe it has been strongly influenced by:
A set of environmental characteristics
3 generic management experiences

The Environmental Characteristics
You might be surprised to find that the arcane business of creating, and selling pay to play ‘games’ can provide helpful insights that apply to many apparently unrelated management situations. Here (in bold) are 5 management generalisations that emerge that characterise the games and gaming industry.

Fast Moving. Uncertain, full of surprises, in which the faddish nature of the product means that pinning down and predicting consumer appeal is tricky. Consequently holding tightly onto past recipes for success is dangerous. Marketers push 'inductive' reasoning and act on the quest for more and more empiral data,(which leads to best seller syndrome, & competitive fixation) In contrast to designers who deploy more 'deductive' thinking, which 'scientific management' just doen't 'get' - Come on guys - what is THE formula for a good game! (sic)

Creative. Products can be understood as the physical manifestation of ‘mental models’ held by designers and more enlightened marketers concerning what they ‘imagine’ to be attractive to the market. They are not exclusively a reactive response to what the market says it wants. Relying exclusively upon the capture and understanding of the stated needs of customers doesn’t guarantee success.

Ambiguous. Gamers generally and Gamblers in particular are notoriously difficult to research. They are reluctant to be candid about their behaviour and needs. They may not even be able to explain their behaviour when asked. They are not rational (although they ‘rationalise’ their behaviour) and invent ‘plans’ / ‘schemes’ to make sense of unpredictable outcomes in an attempt to exert control over them. There is a difference between what people say they do and what they do.

Complex. There is an enormous and dynamic range of decisions, options and choices that takes place between the player and the electronic game or gambling. There is a constant ‘dance’ between the human and technical. Add this to the diversity of the player types, the diversity of places and social context where games can be played this means that management deals with ‘complex systems’. Yet the Bean Counters pursue a futile quest to 'predict', forecast, antipate and control, beause in their eyes quantity of facts is directly proportional to quality of understanding. This, of course, is dubious.

Typical. The dominant management thinking mode is ‘modernist’ or ‘rational’ where linear causal relationships are sought to explain why things happen or don’t happen the way they should. There is little awareness or consideration given to a world made up of as W.R. Ashby in An Introduction to Cybernetics describes:

“…complex systems that just do not allow the varying of only one factor at a time – they are so dynamic and interconnected that the alteration of one factor immediately acts as a course to evoke alternations in others, perhaps a great many others”

Management / design interventions that involve or require human interaction hardly ever occur in reality as neatly as the intervener expecte

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