A Recipe for Conflict

[From Fred Nickols (2011.04.14.1337 MST)]

I came across this on a performance management site.

“In organisations, most processes are performed by people, not machines. This means that to control processes, you have to control behaviours. Logic says that if everyone follows a prescribed path of behaviours, predictable results will occur most of the time.”

Talk about a recipe for disaster.

Regards,

Fred Nickols

Managing Partner

Distance Consulting LLC

1558 Coshcoton Avenue - Suite 303

Mount Vernon, OH 43050-5416

www.nickols.us | fred@nickols.us

“Assistance at a Distance”

[From Richard Kennaway (2011.04.15.0817 BST)]

[From Fred Nickols (2011.04.14.1337 MST)]

I came across this on a performance management site.

"In organisations, most processes are performed by people, not machines. This means that to control processes, you have to control behaviours. Logic says that if everyone follows a prescribed path of behaviours, predictable results will occur most of the time."

Talk about a recipe for disaster.

An interesting control demo just occurred to me. Take two identical (as near as possible) radio-controlled model cars -- you could do this more impressively but more expensively with model aircraft -- and a single control box whose commands will be executed by both cars. Place the cars side by side, not too close to each other. In front of each car, a straight line painted on the ground extends into the distance.

Have someone use the controller to make just one of the cars follow its straight line. The same commands will be going to the other car. How long will the other car follow the line?

···

--
Richard Kennaway, jrk@cmp.uea.ac.uk, Richard Kennaway
School of Computing Sciences,
University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K.

[From Fred Nickols (2011.04.15.0621 MST)]

Aargh! I hate it when someone makes me think and then gives me a test to
boot. Oh well.

Earlier, I posted:

[From Fred Nickols (2011.04.14.1337 MST)]

I came across this on a performance management site.

"In organisations, most processes are performed by people, not machines.

This means that to control processes, you have to control behaviours. Logic
says that if everyone follows a prescribed path of behaviours, predictable
results will occur most of the time."

Talk about a recipe for disaster.

To which Richard Kennaway responded:

[From Richard Kennaway (2011.04.15.0817 BST)]

RK: An interesting control demo just occurred to me. Take two identical (as
near as possible) radio-controlled model cars -- you could do this more
impressively but more expensively with model aircraft -- and a single
control box whose commands will be executed by both cars. Place the cars
side by side, not too close to each other. In front of each car, a straight
line painted on the ground extends into the distance.

RK: Have someone use the controller to make just one of the cars follow its
straight line. The same commands will be going to the other car. How long
will the other car follow the line?

To which I now respond:

FN: Well, the person using the controller would be countering the effects of
any disturbances on the car he/she is making follow the white line. The
disturbances would not be countered on the other car so, assuming there are
some disturbances affecting both cars, the one not being made to follow the
white line would not follow the white line for long. In other words, the
"behaviors" of both cars would be identical but only one would "toe the
line" so to speak.

FN: The demo also illustrates a point I like to make from time to time which
is that if managers want to control employee behavior as a means of
realizing a given result then they are faced with the possibility of having
to provide very close, full-time, one-on-one supervision. That simply isn't
feasible.

FN: What learning points did you have in mind, Richard?

Regards,

Fred Nickols
Managing Partner
Distance Consulting LLC
1558 Coshcoton Avenue - Suite 303
Mount Vernon, OH 43050-5416
www.nickols.us | fred@nickols.us

"Assistance at a Distance"

[From Richard Kennaway (2011.04.15.1435 BST)]

[From Fred Nickols (2011.04.15.0621 MST)]
To which I now respond:

FN: Well, the person using the controller would be countering the effects of
any disturbances on the car he/she is making follow the white line. The
disturbances would not be countered on the other car so, assuming there are
some disturbances affecting both cars, the one not being made to follow the
white line would not follow the white line for long. In other words, the
"behaviors" of both cars would be identical but only one would "toe the
line" so to speak.

FN: The demo also illustrates a point I like to make from time to time which
is that if managers want to control employee behavior as a means of
realizing a given result then they are faced with the possibility of having
to provide very close, full-time, one-on-one supervision. That simply isn't
feasible.

FN: What learning points did you have in mind, Richard?

Just the same thing that you saw: the controlled car will stick to the straight line, while the other one will veer off. I must see if I can find a pair of cars that can be commanded simultaneously and actually try this. I don't know how long it will take for the second car to deviate substantially, but I think this might make quite a compelling demonstration of the point that to reach a goal, you can't just play out a fixed sequence of actions.

···

--
Richard Kennaway, jrk@cmp.uea.ac.uk, Richard Kennaway
Tel. 01603 593212
School of Computing Sciences,
University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K.

[From Rick Marken (2011.04.15.0815)]

Richard Kennaway (2011.04.15.1435 BST)--

Just the same thing that you saw: the controlled car will stick to the
straight line, while the other one will veer off. �I must see if I can find
a pair of cars that can be commanded simultaneously and actually try this.

The cars would be fun but I think you can do this without spending all
those pounds. Just go to my Mind Reading demo

http://www.mindreadings.com/ControlDemo/Mindread.html

click on "Dodging Donuts" and hold one of the characters in the middle
of the screen. Since the mouse "controller" has the same effect on all
three characters you can see that while you keep one charter fixed (as
best as possible) in the center of the display, the other two wander
about randomly. This is what you would see with the cars; the actions
that keep one car going straight would not keep the other going
straight because (like the characters in my demo) the positions of the
cars are influenced by different disturbances.

But if you do get the cars, be sure to make a YouTube of what happens
when you control one. It is an excellent idea for a demo.

Best

Rick

···

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Richard Kennaway (2011.04.15.16:27 BST)]

[From Rick Marken (2011.04.15.0815)]

> Richard Kennaway (2011.04.15.1435 BST)--

Just the same thing that you saw: the controlled car will stick to the
straight line, while the other one will veer off. �I must see if I can find
a pair of cars that can be commanded simultaneously and actually try this.

The cars would be fun but I think you can do this without spending all
those pounds. Just go to my Mind Reading demo

Mindreading

Yes, you can do it all in simulation, but it would just be so much more satisfying to see it for real. After all, the disturbance level in the demo is presumably chosen to make the effect happen, and someone is sure to object that all you have to do is eliminate the disturbances, which is very easy to do in a simulation, but not so easy in real life.

···

--
Richard Kennaway, jrk@cmp.uea.ac.uk, Richard Kennaway
Tel. 01603 593212
School of Computing Sciences,
University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, U.K.

[From Bill Powers (2011.04.15.09321 MDT)]

Richard Kennaway (2011.04.15.0817 BST) --

An interesting control demo just occurred to me. Take two identical (as near as possible) radio-controlled model cars -- you could do this more impressively but more expensively with model aircraft -- and a single control box whose commands will be executed by both cars. Place the cars side by side, not too close to each other. In front of each car, a straight line painted on the ground extends into the distance.

Have someone use the controller to make just one of the cars follow its straight line. The same commands will be going to the other car. How long will the other car follow the line?

Hey, Richard, that's beautiful. This will be easy to model on a computer screen. I wouldn't be surprised if Rick Marken is already halfway through with a model. We would need some small amount of random disturbance acting on each car, hardly enough to notice. If the two models are actually identical to the 18th deciomal place, of course, it would be like plotting the same car twice, but with little disturbances ...

Best,

Bill P.