Management as ‘just another service’

What do I mean when I say that, in a service-oriented architecture of the enterprise, we need to view management and the like as ‘just another service’?

This came up in a comment to the previous post ‘Why are the elite the elite?‘ The notion of ‘just another service’ is worth exploring more – especially as it has corollaries and implications that do have serious impacts on enterprise effectiveness.

(Just to make things clear: this is about enterprise architecture, not politics. Yes, as we’ll see, there are some significant sociopolitical ramifications from this, but that isn’t the focus here: the primary purpose is to explore some of the practical issues we encounter when scaling up a service-oriented architecture to a full whole-of-enterprise scope.)

Although I’ve said ‘enterprise’ above, what we’re dealing with here is mainly about management within ‘the organisation’ (organisation and enterprise are not the same).

What we’re actually dealing with is a paradigm-problem. On the one side, there are two fundamentally-different concepts of the organisation: organisation-as-machine, typified by Taylorism and the like; and organisation-as-living-organism, typified by various ‘systemic’ views such as those from Deming, Senge or Beer.

These two perspectives lead to two fundamentally-different views of the nature and role of management – which in turn have, as above, significant sociopolitical ramifications. But to get there, and to contrast those two views, we first need to do a couple of side-steps.

One of these side-steps is about purpose and the organisation.

In the machine-view, purpose is extrinsic: the purpose of the organisation is defined from outside the organisation. It’s just a machine: everything and everyone within it is, by definition, just another ‘purpose-free’ component of that machine. The machine itself is guided – or defined, perhaps – by the aims of the organisation’s owners, who provide the capital for ‘the enterprise’ and “the animal spirits of the entrepreneur” to set it in motion.

In the organism-view, purpose is intrinsic: the purpose of the organisation is defined from within the organisation. The biological metaphor here is the urge the survive and thrive, within a broader ‘enterprise’ represented by the ecosystem within which the entity exists. The organism is self-guided, self-directed, largely autonomous in the literal sense of ‘self-defined’ or ‘self-owned’. The classical concept of an external ‘owner’ doesn’t really make sense here – other than by stretching the view to include a metaphoric ‘farmer’, perhaps.

Which brings us to another related side-step about owners and rulers and property, because there are two fundamentally-different concepts there as well: feudal/hierarchical versus free-form/ecosystem.

(Note that this won’t suggest that one is somehow inherently ‘better’ than the other: they’re not. It’s more about ‘fit’ to the requirements of the context – ‘better’ only in a contextual sense, not an ‘absolute’ one. If you’re familiar with Spiral Dynamics model of social contexts, feudal/hierarchical is essentially Red/Blue, nowadays with a thin veneer of Orange; free-form/ecosystem requires system-awareness, and hence is in the Gold/Turquoise range. [Ignore the ‘historical determinism’ in Spiral Dynamics, by the way: to be blunt, it’s garbage. But the core ‘vMeme’ model is sound, and can be very useful as a cultural-assessment frame in enterprise-architectures.])

A feudal/hierarchical culture is one in which there are strict relationships (‘fealty’) of roles that are ‘above’ or ‘below’ each other, and that identify respective authority, ‘rights’, responsibilities. A true feudal model has a single ruler (‘monarch’) at the ‘top’ of relationship-tree; a more literal hierarchy instead has some form of abstract concept (such as ‘God’, or ‘the Law’) that is nominally ‘above’ all others, but in essence and in practice comes to much the same as a feudal model. In both variants, each ‘inferior’ is the ‘subject’ of the respective ‘superior’ – literally, classed as a semi-autonomous extension of the ‘superior’, with no independent identity, existence or will.

(For an extreme near-present-day example, consider Gadaffi’s Libya, with Gadaffi himself as ‘Brother Leader’ who thinks for all, decides for all, and possesses all – and whose merest whim is Law. In principle, if fortunately not so much in practice, the Pope provides much the same role for the Catholic Church – subject only to the perceived ‘will of God’.)

‘Modern’ capitalism arose in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, in cultures that in essence were still largely feudal – in practice, at least, if not necessarily in theory. Aristocrats still held most of the land; but increasingly, the new merchant class held most of the money, and hence could claim a near-equal stake at the top of the tree-of-control. Beneath them in the tree were a wide range of agents: the bailiff, the steward, the factor, and so on. In modern-day parlance, these were the ‘managers’. And beneath them, as the ‘subjects’ of everyone else, were the ‘workers’ – the providers of Labour, to use the term from classic capitalism.

Taylorism in essence reflects and embodies exactly this type of feudal model: a rigid three-tier class-hierarchy. At the top we have the owners, who actually don’t get much of a mention in Taylorism as such: they set the purpose for the ‘machine’, issue commands accordingly, and are deemed to have the exclusive ‘right of possession’ over everything and everyone else. (Note, though, that with the invention of the ‘limited-liability company’ and other related changes in law, the old feudal mutuality of responsibilities is gone: all others are still responsible to the owners, but not the owners to their ‘vassals’ or to anyone else. In effect, the ‘social contract’ becomes one-way only: an obvious huge kurtosis-risk that few now seem willing to acknowledge…) Beneath them we have the managers, who in Taylorism do all the thinking for the ‘machine’, and maintain control: they interpret the wishes of the owners, and relay them as orders to those who in turn are ‘beneath’ them. And at the base of the tree, we have the workers, who do all of the ‘doing’ of the ‘machine’, and in essence are classed as mindless robots, subjects of everyone else’s ‘rights’ to ‘command and control’.

So in Taylorism, as in the Victorian battlefield, everyone has a fixed role in a fixed structure of top-down ‘command and control’ – owners own; managers think; workers do – and no-one can move outside of those preordained roles. Everything and everyone is a component within ‘the machine’.

By contrast to all of this, the ecosystem-model has no hierarchy at all: no-one has ‘rulership’ over anything else, there’s no command, and in many ways there’s no control either. The organism or ecosystem simply is. Sometimes there’s no real order as such – as in a colony of extremophile bacteria, for example. Often, though, there is some form of apparent order or collective purpose that emerges from the interactions in the overall context: the structure of a human body is one example of which we all have direct first-hand knowledge. 🙂 Within a human body, it doesn’t make sense to use a ‘rulership’ metaphor, that “the heart rules the head”, for example, or “the kidneys rule the throat”. (Okay, people may well use such metaphors, but they don’t actually make sense in physiological terms, anyway…) Instead, the most accurate metaphor is that each cell and organ and structure offers its services in support of the whole.

So: what next? – especially in relation to the organisation and its management?

On the one side, we have the machine-metaphor. In Taylorism and the like, this aligns with a feudal-style tree-structure of ‘command and control’, a hierarchy of ‘bosses’ and ‘subordinates’. All of this is bounded by predefined rules and algorithms – hence ‘scientific management’. Everything and everyone is considered only to be a component – a nested structure of components within components within components.

On the other side, we have the living-organism metaphor. This aligns with a network-type structure, often with fluid roles and dynamic changes in relationship and connection. There is no identifiable hierarchy as such; instead, relative ‘positioning’ tends to be derived in an emergent way from the interaction of the whole. Instead of predefined roles, each entity – at every level of granularity or decomposition – offers services that contribute in some way to the emergent workings of the whole.

So how do these two models apply in the real world?

On the surface, most organisations still seem to use the machine-metaphor: there are explicit ranks, each with authority ‘over’ others, and so on. The nominal role of management is still a Taylorist ‘command and control’.

However this type of structure is very unwieldy, and slow to respond to change – certainly far too unwieldy for anything involving fast real-time action or real-time change. Even armies don’t use it any more – not on the battlefield, anyway, where ‘command and control’ has long since been replaced by a much more free-form ‘Commander’s Intent’. The same applies in Agile-style product-development, or in successful customer-service: the classic ‘command and control’ call-centre is frankly despised by almost everyone, especially those who struggle to survive within them…

So in practice, most organisations still present themselves as top-down command-and-control. But the reality is that, other than in a few quite narrow contexts, that isn’t how they actually work. Instead, to get the speed of response that’s needed in a real-time world, just about everything is structured around services – except for management, which still tries to cling on to command-and-control.

One of the real problems is that if we move to a service-oriented model – which we need in order to support the required agility and emergence in the market-‘ecosystem’ – one of the crucial side-effects is that management can no longer be viewed as ‘special and different’. It’s not like the hierarchies of Taylorism: a service-architecture is a network-structure with no top, no bottom, and usually no identifiable centre either. In a true service-model, management is just another service, one that happens to provide management-type services to the whole. (I’ve described those services in some depth back in the various posts on Enterprise Canvas, hence no need to repeat it all again here?) And since in a service-architecture there’s no hierarchy-tree, no top, no bottom, no centre, management has no reason whatsoever to try to claim automatic or inherent priority over anyone or anything else: it’s just another service.

In a classic business-architecture, the first thing we usually do is try to map out the ‘org-chart’. What we discover very quickly is that that tells us almost nothing about how the work is actually organised. To get any sense of what’s really going on, and what and how and why anything connects with anything else, our best bet is to turn to a enterprise-architecture that starts from one very simple principle: that everywhere and nowhere is the centre, all at the same time. In other words, a strategy that leads naturally into a service-oriented approach to the architecture.

That’s pretty much where we’re at now with enterprise-architecture, and why a service-oriented approach to the architecture gives the best fit for most current business needs. But we keep on hitting up against that huge stumbling-block and bottleneck that we’re apparently not supposed to notice: namely that the hierarchical concept of management, that everyone seems to want to cling on to, simply does not make sense any more. Instead, the only thing that does make sense is the view that management is just another service, no different in rank or priority or the like from anything else.

Unfortunately, the political ramifications of that fact are huge. For example, if management is ‘just another service’, is there any reason why self-styled ‘senior management’ should always get the top floor and the highest pay? The short answer is no: no reason whatsoever. Oops… Think that blunt fact will be resisted – especially by those who currently claim to have the ‘right’ of command-and-control over all others? You betcha… and it won’t matter one jot that that kind of clinging-on to something that doesn’t make sense will make things worse for everyone, including themselves. It’s very, very hard to let go of privilege, of a sense of certainty in entitlement – especially when the blunt reality is that never were any real defensible grounds for that privilege in the first place. Tricky, that one… very difficult indeed…

Yet before you launch at me with some arbitrary accusation that I’m some kind of crazy ‘communist’ or ‘socialist’ or ‘anarchist’ or the like (okay, as an architect I might perhaps accept the ‘business-anarchist‘ label… 🙂 ), notice that this is not about politics. It’s only about architecture – nothing else. All that I’m saying here is that a service-oriented architecture points us inevitably at the blunt fact that management is ‘just another service’. What we do with that ‘blunt fact’ is another question entirely: but that it is a fact is not in question.

Hope that makes a bit more sense, anyway?

12 Comments on “Management as ‘just another service’

  1. Tom,

    I think I disagree with “In the organism-view, purpose is intrinsic: the purpose of the organisation is defined from within the organisation.” Or maybe I should say that in my own simplistic world view I believe that every form follows feedback. Or, in other words, everything including organisations and their purposes, are defined or at least shaped by feedback. And by definition the most important feedback is coming from the outside, e.g. from investors who want to put money into a company, consumers who want to buy services nd share their experiences with others, regulators who want that things are done in a certain way etc…
    Even managers are bound by feedback. We (in the Netherlands) had some examples of managers who gave back or refused their bonuses thanks to “public feedback”. So I think things are changing already albeit very slowly…

    Nevertheless, again an interesting read with much food for thought…

  2. Hi Tom,

    Taylorism is to a large extent instituted by contemporary statutes. Organisations are subject to operational forces which push them towards or away from the Taylorist model, but in the end the exist as legal fictions of one kind or another – coorporations being the most interesting and apposite to you thesis.

    This is so often overlooked and discussions such as yours acknowledge that enterprise operate under the necessary condition of being able to generate in the economy enough value to sustain their existence.

    This is a necessary, but insufficient condition of their existence. It is also absolutely necessary they be constituted in law to exist.

    That second condition does put politics front and centre of your discussion. In so much as it is a simple and very un-theoretical question to ask just how far from Taylorism can an enterprise move before it can no longer comply with the laws under which it is constituted.

    Certainly with legal reform there will remain a group of elite directors accountable by law for the behaviour of the Enterprise. Below that there is a vast body of law that dictates to a very real extent parameters of behaviour that influence just how enterprise can organise itself internally.

    And while we have all been reminded many times in recent history that ignoring the regulatory controls under which an enterprise is expected to operated can destroy it, it is also often the case that an Enterprise fails for the opposite reason – it could create value if only there weren’t a bunch of pesky laws in the way creating ‘inefficiencies’ that destroy the business model.

    But on a personal note – I’d love to see management become just another function in a self-regulating social entity. Taylorism is, well, just awful.

  3. Tom, I’m dubious about some of this. In support of what you say, my own experience is that ‘management’ works best when it goes both ways – my manager expects a service from me and I expect services from him. To be sure, it’s really coordination I need from him, but is that only because he is ‘better placed’ in the hierarchy to achieve it? So, I certainly agree that what managers do (should do) is provide complementary services.
    Yet, hierarchy is surely evident in the recursion of the VSM and so the system 5 at the ‘top’ of the VSM hierarchy is (or embodies somehow) the purpose of the whole. Thus it seems to be that some services are more directly involved in the realisation of this purpose. Or perhaps I’m just trapped into hierarchic thinking.
    I would like to see people rewarded for providing good service (anywhere), I have no problem with people being rewarded for taking risk (as long as they are prepared to pay the price), and I do hate management folk who really think they’re it, and forget that they’re also just part of the system.
    Rambling, but I think that whilst you’re on to something with the service view, that is doesn’t follow that all services make an equal contribution.

  4. @Peter Bakker – Peter, yes, sure, there’s a feedback loop involved: in metaphoric terms, the organism’s relationship with other entities in the ecosystem, and the ecosystem as a whole.

    But look at the nature of the feedback-loop, and where the drivers reside. In the machine-model, all of “the animal spirits of the entrepreneur” by definition reside outside of the machine. In the organism-model, the organism does have some form of drive or purpose, if only to grow and reproduce itself. (This is actually the difference between ‘inanimate’ and ‘animate’ respectively.) In an organisation, we typically see the ‘intrinsic purpose’ expressed in architectural themes such as mission, vision and values. We also note from the research-literature that those themes tend to work best – in terms of whatever performance-criteria apply in the context – when the vision and so on are taken up as a personal commitment (i.e. intrinsic motivation) rather than imposed from ‘outside’ (extrinsic motivation).

    It’s a feedback-loop, yes, definitely. But the whole point is that it is a two-way (or multi-way) feedback-loop- not simply something that’s imposed from ‘outside’.

  5. @Ric – Yeah, I strongly agree with you that enterprise-architects need to understand the legal constraints that apply to corporations and other organisations, and thence to the management of those organisations.

    The law itself and its inherent dysfunctionalities in relation to current real-world constraints is another whole can-of-worms that I will carefully avoid here… 🙂 (For your possible amusement, though, you’ll find quite a lot more on this in my recent sort-of-novel ‘Yabbies‘.) There’s little doubt, though, that almost all current corporate-law – and even almost all property-law – is fundamentally incompatible with future sustainability: it’s not so much that the law needs ‘reform’ as that it needs a complete restructure right from the deepest possible roots. Which is, shall we say, likely to create a certain amount of social upheaval…? 🙁

    Right now, though, I’d suggest that as enterprise-architects our best and responsible action should be as I described at the end of the ‘Rethinking the architecture of management‘ post: focus on exploring how different management-structures and management-models apply in different contexts, document the results, and also document the impacts of mismatches that are enforced by law and the like, much as for any other architecture-dispensation. All of this is hugely ‘political’, so we need to be very careful to avoid falling into the ‘normative architecture’ trap – in other words, telling others what they ‘should’ do etc. However much we might wish it to be otherwise, our role as enterprise-architects in these realms is mostly decision-support, very rarely decision-making: we forget that fact at our peril! 😐

    That said, yes, I do indeed wish it were otherwise: but fact is that it isn’t. Yet to quote Wangari Maathai, “I do the best that I can” – I hope it’s useful to someone, anyway.

  6. @Peter Ward “I’m dubious about some of this” – oh good…! 🙂

    As you say, the classic ‘report’ is an almost archetypal mutual-service relationship: it goes both ways. (That’s why I model it that way in Enterprise Canvas.) Yet the service-relationship itself does not inherently imply a ‘superior’/’inferior’ hierarchy: that’s an arbitrary overlay – an assumption – that we place on top of the service-relationship, and arguably doesn’t actually exist as such other than because we believe that it does. Once we stop believing in it, we can perhaps drop that arbitrary assumption, or at least explore whether it is or is not appropriate for the actual context.

    The quickest (though perhaps yet more controversial?) way to summarise what happens here is that there’s often a confusion between ‘rights’ and responsibilities. There are mutual-responsibilities in a service-relationship: that’s actually the basis of the service-relationship, and how and why it works. But in a hierarchical management-structure what we often get are purported ‘rights’ (expressed as ‘authority’ and the like) whose primary purpose is to evade key aspects of the mutual-responsibilities – in particular, in this case, the responsibility to negotiate contextual agreement. There’s a lot about this in Enterprise Canvas, though Nigel Green’s VPEC-T (Values, Policies, Events, Content, Trust) is another very valuable technique for ‘surfacing’ hidden assumptions of this type, in all types of service-relationships: perhaps take a look at it somewhen?

    Re VSM, do be careful here, because whilst it does have hierarchy-like elements, it’s not a simple hierarchy. The relationship between system-1 and system-3/4/5 does align quite well with a Taylorist-type hierarchy; but system-2 often needs to bridge between hierarchy-branches; the system-3* (even in Beer’s rather-inadequate original version) actually connects to a system-3 and/or system-5 at least one level ‘above’; whilst the ‘algedonic’ links, by definition, must be able to connect anywhere to anywhere, bypassing the entire hierarchy if necessary. And again, there’s nothing in Beer’s VSM that indicates that it must imply a top-down command-and-control hierarchy: Beer’s writings make it clear that that’s exactly what he didn’t want to support. It actually makes much more sense if you view the tree-structure solely as a means for aggregation and abstraction/realization, and that every node with the VSM network is ‘just another service’.

    Re “I think that whilst you’re on to something with the service view, that is doesn’t follow that all services make an equal contribution” – I strongly agree. I’m not saying that every service makes an equal contribution: I am saying that each service is necessary in some way for the overall viability of the organisation/organism – which is not the same at all. Yet also note that there’s nothing there that says that contribution-to-viability is determined solely by ‘ranking’ within a hierarchy-structure – which in effect is what the Taylorist and similar models try to imply. As you say, we need to be very careful here not to become “trapped into hierarchic thinking”: there are other management-structures than the ‘classic’ hierarchies, and in many cases they have a much better fit to the context – i.e. more effective in that context – than hierarchies will be.

    Not always, though: sometimes a ‘classic’ hierarchy is the best option. But the whole point is that it’s contextual: we need a broader range of choice than the Taylorist-style ‘one-hierarchy-fits-all’. To me a service-oriented approach to assessment of context gives us one of the most versatile views into a context, and what I’ve described in these past few posts is what I’ve seen arising from that assessment: but again, recursively, whether it’s ‘correct’ or not will depend on the context. 🙂 That’s really all I’m saying here, I guess?

  7. Good explanation, thanks Tom. Good point about the algedonic links.
    So, yes, I’m in agreement: services may be – but don’t have to be – arranged hierarchically, all participants have responsibilities, all services are interchangeable for equivalent services.
    Interestingly (IMHO) I recently was involved in an analysis of a company by capabilities (nearly services), intentionally devoid of organisational shape. Very revealing in terms of how the capabilities need to interact non-hierarchically and by extension, how poorly the organisation serves them!

  8. @Tom G

    Hi Tom,

    I don’t think I said all feedback is coming from the outside. Only the most important 🙂

    Of course there are drivers from within but I will argue that even those are shaped by some kind of feedback.

    But I think this has more to do with philosophy than with the main message which I think is very valuable.

  9. This is great stuff. I’ve been playing with my “manage without them” model for many years now. It is essentially an architecture based view of management. But it’s also a market-based view of management.

    When you combine those two concepts you end up with a situation where everything is a service and because you are using market-based coordination there is no specific management service. Taking the concept to the extreme here – for effect and to justify the name of the model.

    If you take the politics and competitive forces into account it gets even more interesting. The only reason management is so persistent and is such an integral part of political (I.e. All) organistions is because of bundling. The management service has over time aggregated a number of other services (change management, psychology, risk management, “by walking around”, financial management, the list really does go on) such that the organisation is forced to use all of the services together.

    Though I don’t know if I agree with antitrust laws this is the same process that is determined to be “anti-competitive” in that logic.

    Interestingly, I think this race is being re-run in a connected, low transaction cost, open, world.

  10. Tom
    There’s so much to comment on (including the comments) that I think I need to start by establishing what I think is the actual message here (henceforth “the contention”). On the one hand it may be that networked organizations are inherently more agile than hierachical organizations and therefore essential in the present conjuncture. On the other it may be that management is just another service regardless of the exact organizational form. Either requires change to take place. I’m inclined to see the first one as fundamental and the second as a consequence, so that’s the basis of what follows (and therefore potentially a fundamental flaw in my argumentation).
    There are for me three questions I would ask of any such an argument:
    – is the contention sound (are there flaws in the argument)
    – which factors can postively or negatively affect the ability to change
    – what is the relevance for the intended audience (in this case enterprise architects)
    And, by the way, I’m in agreement with either version of the contention.
    1. Is the contention sound?
    My impression is that organizations like Apple and Amazon are distinctly hierarchical and yet they seem to be pretty agile. Maybe they are in fact considerably more networked than they appear. Maybe they are hierarchical but have managed to implement a management as a service model. Maybe large, hierarchical organizations can be agile and we have reached the wrong conclusion.
    I think the piece about Taylorism and feudalism is a bit of a red herring and therefore an unnecessary weakness in the argument. In fact there are aspects of your historical perspective even I would dispute (and will do so if requested). In what way does it help the core argument? It’s perfectly reasonable to state that a hierachical organization was (probably) appropriate for the era of Taylorism (an era in which the overwhelming area of non-agricultural economic activity was manufacturing industry). You could then equally reasonably state that things have changed, that we produce far more non-tangibles (and services) and we maybe need a different organizational model. Most of your readership would, I suspect have no major issue with that and there’s a lot less for antagonists to knock down.
    The second potential weakness is the use of metaphor. Metaphors are dangerous things (I should know – I overuse them myself), for two reasons. First because they often lead to distracting arguments about the exact nature of the non-metaphorical use. Second because they tend to break down if you take them too far. In this case the culprit is “organisation-as-living-organism”. To be fair you do actually also use the words “living-organism metaphor” but that’s relatively late on. It wouldn’t matter were it not for the fact that I’ve seen a lot of material recently in which the writers do actually want us to understand organizations as living organisms, which leads them to some bizarre constructions. An organization is not an organism. At best it’s a collective, which one might liken to a colony of ants or bees but I wouldn’t because it’s another misleading metaphor. So why not stick to the “network structure”, which is not a metaphor but is nevertheless strong imagery?
    2. Which factors can positively or negatively impact change?
    This comment is becoming too long, so I will cheat and come back to this point.
    3. How is it relevant to the audience?
    I think this one’s easy and you started to address it. Well first, because most EA’s do get frustrated by the sluggish nature of many organizations and the unwillingness of people with power to change (just like in society at large). So it’s very useful for us to be able to articulate the problem and a possible solution approach. Maybe we have to start doing guerrilla EA – sneak in a few services while no one’s looking and by the time they’re spotted they work too well to kill off (well, one can always hope). Another relevant usage is simply to start perceiving the organization as a network and modelling it that way – rather than getting trapped by hierachical org charts. That might lead to us playing a small part in releasing the creativity of the folks on the shop floor.
    That’ll do for now. I’ll come back to point 2 later.

  11. @Stuart Boardman – Yup, some great challenges here… 🙂 Will aim to keep this short… 😐

    “1. Is the contention sound?”, part a) about hierarchy, feudalism and Taylorism. I think I’ve answered most of this already in the later post ‘Rebalancing top-down management-architectures‘, which looks at the need for contextual management-structures, and the need in most cases for what Beer described as an ‘algedonic’ mechanism to bypass any or all of the hierarchy where necessary. Historically there can be no doubt at all that Taylorism presumed a feudal-type structure in the business-context, with three distinct layers: owners (who own everything), managers and ‘scientific’ analysts (who think, and don’t do), and workers (who do, and are deemed incapable of thought). This reflects the class-structure of the time: in Britain this would be the ‘ruling-class’, ‘middle-class’ and ‘working-class’, with the ‘ruling-class’ made up of a mix of the old aristocracy (‘old money’) and factory-owners, lawyers and the like (‘new money’); in the US ‘ruling-class’ was determined more by monetary wealth than anything else, but the same principle applies. This much should be immediately obvious from reading newspapers, journals and other texts from the time, rather than interpreted via a present-day lens.

    On your ‘1b’: “It’s perfectly reasonable to state that a hierachical organization was (probably) appropriate for the era of Taylorism … . You could then equally reasonably state that things have changed, that we produce far more non-tangibles (and services) and we maybe need a different organizational model.” Yes, things have indeed changed in terms of the business-context: hugely changed. As I mentioned in the post above, there are quite a few factors that were all but absent from classical capitalism that are absolute fundamentals in present-day models: particularly the non-tangibles, as you say. However, most managerial structures, and education for those structures, have hardly changed at all – and all that I’ve been saying is that in most cases (though yes, not all cases) we now have managerial structures that are completely unsuited for the purpose. And the primary reason why people cling on to those structures – even though just about everyone knows that they don’t fit the need well, if at all – is because they provide a very important psychological prop to the delusion of ‘control’. It would take several more posts to explain why that’s such a problem, why it’s linked so closely to the ‘machine’-metaphor, and why and how it’s literally placing all of us at risk, so I’ll just have to ask you be a bit patient for a more detailed answer than that? That ‘more detailed answer’ is coming, I promise: but judging from several people’s response to what I’ve written so far, it’s clear I’m going to have to explain it much more slowly than I’d expected – there’s a lot of stuff that I’d thought was obvious that I now realise isn’t obvious to most people at all. Oh well. Apologies, anyway…

    Your ‘2’: I’ll skip that until you give me something to answer – I can ‘cheat’ too, y’see? 🙂

    “3. How is this relevant to the audience?” – I think you’ve answered this already, and for most of it I would strongly agree. The part where I would disagree (though gently) is where the point at which this risks becoming ‘political’: “most EA’s do get frustrated by the sluggish nature of most organizations” etc. Yes, in a sense, questioning the currently overly-beloved hierarchies of management may sound ‘political’: but all I’m saying is that they don’t work. That’s what a service-oriented view of architecture shows us: the current hierarchy-type management-structures are not ‘fit for purpose’, for almost any current business-context. There’s nothing new in this: for example, from a manufacturing-quality perspective, Deming explained this very clearly in his ’14 Points’ well over half a century ago. Enterprise-architecture looks at broader scope than production-line manufacturing, so we can see the same issues replicated in every context of the organization and beyond. And that’s a straightforward fact from architectural assessment – it’s not ‘politics’.

    Sure, there’s a huge amount of ‘politics’ that will arise from that observation… 😐 But what it comes down to is a straightforward choice: do the decision-makers want an organisation whose structure actually fits the purpose, or do they want to want to limp on with what they now know doesn’t work? It’s very rare that an enterprise-architect as such would have the authority or responsibility to make that kind of very-‘political’ decision; but it is the EA’s job to make it clear what the implications of each option would be, so as to support the decision-makers in understanding the consequences of the choice. So again, all I’m doing here is bringing a bit more architectural evidence that ‘management-as-usual’ is not as good a choice as most managers appear to want it to be – in fact that the consequences are often not only untold amounts of unnecessary misery for everyone involved, but because of that misery and dysfunctionality, the organisation as a whole is likely to be very inefficient and ineffective relative to what it could be with management-structure that’s more ‘fit for purpose’.

    It’s true I’m also saying that, from an architectural perspective, a management-model that accepts and implements the notion that management is ‘just another service’ is, in most cases, more likely to be more ‘fit for purpose’ than any variant of a top-down hierarchical structures. Yes, there may well be huge ‘political’ ramifications from that assertion: yet the assertion itself follows directly from the logic of a service-oriented enterprise-architecture – there’s nothing ‘political’ about the assertion itself. The final implemented-architecture will reflect a politics, of course, often very strongly so; yet it’s really important to keep the architecture separate from the politics during the assessment-phase – which is all we’re talking about in this post. That again is all I’m saying here: clear enough, I hope?

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