A PCT Look at Managerial Performance

I've been trying to take a PCT look at managerial performance (in an
admittedly broad brush way). The product is at the following URL:

http://home.att.net/~essays/managerialperformance.pdf

Comments, etc. welcome.

Regards,

Fred Nickols
Distance Consulting
"Assistance at a Distance"
nickols@att.net
www.nickols.us

[From Rick Marken (2004.01.04.1825)]

I've been trying to take a PCT look at managerial performance (in an
admittedly broad brush way). The product is at the following URL:

http://home.att.net/~essays/managerialperformance.pdf

Comments, etc. welcome.

My first comment is "Wow", what a well-written and well though out
piece. This has to be one of the best descriptions of control theory I
have ever seen. I think you do a very good job of describing the theory
in terms of concrete examples from management. Up to page 9 I think
there is really no way to improve it. I only have two suggestions for
the last part of the paper.

First, I think I would eliminate Figure 2 and just do the summary
verbally. Figure 2 is a different kind of flow diagram than Figure 1
and I think it could be misleading. Anyway, I don't think it's really
necessary since it doesn't say much more than what you say in you
numbered list of comments.

Second, I suggest adding one implication that you didn't mention but
that I think is very important, especially to managers. The implication
is something like: it's the state of the perception, not the actions
taken to get that perception to the goal, that matters. The point is
that managers should be willing to change their actions if what they
are doing does not seem to be getting the perception to the goal. I
think this is important because managers (like all people) may be
inclined to continue on a particular course of action because that
action is _supposed_ to produce the right results. But what we get
from the control theory, I think, is the idea that getting the intended
result (controlled condition) is more important that the means used
(actions taken) to get it.

Very nice paper, Fred.

Best

Rick

···

On Saturday, January 3, 2004, at 08:01 AM, Fred Nickols wrote:
---

Richard S. Marken
marken@mindreadings.com
Home 310 474-0313
Cell 310 729-1400

[From Bruce Gregory (2004.01.03.2137)

But what we get
from the control theory, I think, is the idea that getting the intended
result (controlled condition) is more important that the means used
(actions taken) to get it.

If only that were the practice on CSGnet.

Bruce Gregory

"Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no
one was listening, everything must be said again."
                                                                                Andre Gide

"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. That is the entire
Law; all the rest is commentary."

                                                                                The Talmud

Phil Runkel replying to Fred Nickols's of 3 Jan at 08:01:

I, too, have copied off your paper. I don't read or write as fast as
those other fans, but I'll get to it in a few days. --Phil R.

[From Bill Williams 3 January 2004 4:20 PM CST]

Fred,

I think the paper creates a good impression. I do think that Rick's suggestion that more emphasis might be given to achiving goals regardless of how they are reached is a constructive one.

However, it seems to me that it might be possible for you to make a claim that control theory provides a theoretical basis for understanding why some of the prominent mangagement studies and methods like the Hawthorne plant papers, and the guy who went to Japan and became famous there for his work improvement methods,... I'm not familiar with work in management/organization theory, but I would think that control theory is implicit in much of the work-- at least the work that has some usefulness.

Presenting the argument without any reference to past experience, what has worked, what hasn't might give the impression that the concept that you are proposing hasn't been tested. It seems possible to me that you could make a claim that it has. Perhaps not using quite the presentation you've developed, but in terms of the same, or very similiar principles-- even if the principles have sometimes been a bit confused, or largely implicit.

I think the graphics you've used are quite effective in presenting the concepts.

Bill Williams

···

-----Original Message-----
From: Control Systems Group Network (CSGnet) on behalf of Philip Runkel
Sent: Sat 1/3/2004 10:39 PM
To: CSGNET@listserv.uiuc.edu
Subject: Re: A PCT Look at Managerial Performance

Phil Runkel replying to Fred Nickols's of 3 Jan at 08:01:

I, too, have copied off your paper. I don't read or write as fast as
those other fans, but I'll get to it in a few days. --Phil R.

[From Bill Powers (2004.01.04. 1638 MST)]

I've been trying to take a PCT look at managerial performance (in an
admittedly broad brush way). The product is at the following URL:

Outstanding way of using PCT. Congratulations. I agree with Rick that Fig.
2 is more confusing than helpful, and am glad you concur.

You have an opportunity in this paper to mention micromanagement, which
comes down to telling a subordinate what acts to perform instead of what
results to achieve. Since you've discussed disturbances and control of
perceptual inputs, you can point out that an employee must be free to vary
his or her actions in whatever way is required to oppose the effects of
disturbances. That's the only way to assure that the desired result can be
produced consistently in a varying environment. Telling the person to
perform specific actions removes this necessary freedom and often
guarantees failure. "Yes, boss, I sent in the order exactly as you told me
to. Of course I knew that the supplier you specified is out of the
materials you want, so we will not get them in time." Micromanagement leads
to the well-known phenomenon of "malicious compliance."

Best,

Bill P.