Applications; business

Robert Radford (9509021800)

In article <01HURDFZ97CIFKM9BK@FORTLEWIS.EDU>, "William T. Powers"

The advice that PCT would offer to the business world as a whole,
therefore, is "Stop competing."

[deletions]

Since the basic economic system in which we live is, from the standpoint
of PCT, insane, it seems to me that the applications we offer as PCT
experts should be concentrated in the area of improving sanity rather
than giving one company an edge over others -- in the long run, a self-
defeating notion.

As competition is inherent in the evolutionary process by which we arrived
at humanity, a theory that has problems with the issue is inherently
flawed. Competition appears to be built in to the system (social, economic
and evolutionary.) Surely PCT is a model of the organism or organization
that is capable of perception. The perception is a competitive tool.

In the case of teaching PCT in industry, to the extent that it helps a
company to survive (and companies which do not adopt it do not survive)
then it will be adopted in the industry i.e. by the survivors. That merely
means that the compeitive battle will then move on to some other marginal
advantage.

···

<POWERS_W@FORTLEWIS.EDU> wrote:

[From Bill Powers (950901.0815 MDT)]

Marc S. Abrams [083195.2000] --

     We ALL are in the business of providing SOMETHING to SOMEONE else.
     Our ability to deliver that service depends on how well we
     understand what OTHERS WANT. Understanding the nature of how WE
     want things (and go about getting them) might give us some insights
     into how OTHERS formulate thier wants. Isn't that what PCT is all
     about ?

     I think we need to think about how to utilize what we ALREADY know.
     I am currently working in three different areas. The common thread
     is SERVICE to others. If anyone is interested in anyone of these
     areas I'd love to hear from you.

     1) Testing:
     2) Sales and Marketing
     3) TQM and BPR: Total Quality and Business Process Reengineering.

I'll talk briefly about testing last.

In the world of business, there is emphasis on competition (and this
certainly includes testing as a business). What businessmen want most is
some method of attracting customers to themselves and away from
competing businesses. This is the whole point in Sales and Marketing,
and at least 90% of the point in TQM and BPR.

Suppose that using PCT you developed an infallible service which would,
by any means you care to name, allow any company that adopted it to
attract customers toward itself and away from competitors. As long as
you had just a single client, this method would work, since it is
infallible. But once that client was satisfied, you would have to look
for another client. Unless you moved into a noncompeting sector (where
you have never worked before) to find a new client, you would then be
applying your system against the interests of the old client, showing
the new client how your infallible system could be used to attract
customers away from, among others, the old client. In the long run,
therefore, your infallible system would be self-cancelling. Once all
businesses had learned to apply it, the effects of the system would be
reduced to zero, and the net profits of all businesses would return to
where they were, all else being equal.

So we can conclude that PCT is not, in the long run, going to be of use
in giving businesses the main thing that they want, which is to win the
competition with other businesses. To say to managers in general, "PCT
will make your business more competitive" is to utter a falsehood. It
can do so (assuming it works infallibly when applied) only if just one
business adopts it. Every succeeding business that adopts it will reduce
its effectiveness for the preceding businesses.

One of the first phenomena to show up in a PCT analysis of social
behavior is conflict. Conflict is a situation in which one person can't
achieve a goal without preventing another person from achieving a
related goal. The main consequence of conflict is to reduce greatly the
capacity of both people to control effectively. Most of their effort has
to be expended in counteracting the effort of the other person.

This also applies to businesses. If one company starts a big advertising
campaign to attract customers, the competing companies have to try to
nullify the effects by mounting their own campaigns. The conflict arises
because the number of customers is relatively fixed, so a gain by one
company is a loss to others. If all the competing campaigns are equally
effective, there will be no net change in the number of customers for
each company, yet each company will have greatly increased its
advertising costs. If one campaign is slightly more effective than each
of the others, there may be a slight increase in the number of
customers, but the costs of this increase will be very high; most of the
cost is incurred just to counteract the effects of the other campaigns.

Something similar happens with programs like TQM and BPR, which promise
improved efficiency and thus a better competitive position. If one
company adopts such a system which is touted as a quick way to improve
competitiveness, then other companies must, in defense, also adopt the
same system, whatever the cost and whether or not the system actually
works. Most of the costs, therefore, are incurred just to nullify the
advantages that the system is believed to offer the other companies. If
the system works equally well in each company, the net gain in
competitiveness from adopting the program will be zero. The conflict
greatly increases costs and efforts without any corresponding
improvement in the ability to control competitiveness.

The advice that PCT would offer to the business world as a whole,
therefore, is "Stop competing." This, of course, can't happen without
changing to an entirely different economic system and without a drastic
revision of social customs that are designed to make competitiveness --
i.e., conflict -- seem desirable.

Since the basic economic system in which we live is, from the standpoint
of PCT, insane, it seems to me that the applications we offer as PCT
experts should be concentrated in the area of improving sanity rather
than giving one company an edge over others -- in the long run, a self-
defeating notion.

One example of such an application is Ed Ford's program in schools. The
object of this program is to reduce conflicts: among students, between
students and teachers, and among students, teachers, administrators, and
staff. The way this is done is to recognize each person's goals and to
negotiate ways in which the greatest satisfaction of the greatest number
can be achieved. The result, at least as far as my second-hand knowledge
goes, is that all participants in this system are happier, more
peaceful, and better able to teach, learn and progress. They are not
wasting their efforts simply to nullify the efforts of others.

This type of program is not self-defeating if generally applied. If one
school adopts this program and succeeds with it, no other school loses
anything. If a second and a third and a fourth school adopt it, the
first school loses nothing. Peace of mind and happiness are not
commodities over which we must compete; the more people who have them,
the easier it is for others to have them, too.

As a PCT consultant to businesses, therefore, what the PCT expert should
offer is simply a way to make the company a more sane, happy, and
effective organization strictly in terms of human relationships. The PCT
expert should explain that competitiveness is not the concern of PCT;
the expert should remind the customer that even if the result were to be
an improvement in the company's competitive position, soon many other
companies will also start using the services of experts in PCT and it
will not be long before any temporary edge is lost. The main thing to be
gained is simply a better life for everyone involved. If that is not an
attractive enough goal in itself, then PCT will not satisfy whatever the
wants are that are considered more important.

···

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Now, testing.

I agree with your comments on testing right down the line.

The current approach is to use randomly-constructed tests which are
validated only by seeing how people who score in certain ways on the
tests do in other areas of life. The scores themselves are meaningless;
the questions and tasks are meaningless (or at least their meaning is
far from clear). There is no known rational relationship between the
score on the test and later performance; the only relationship that can
be pointed to is statistical. The knowledge we get from such tests is as
close to useless as it can get without being exactly zero.

The PCT approach to testing would simply be to find out what variables a
child can control at what levels. We have, or can get, a general idea of
what most children of a given age are able to control; we don't need to
test a 3-year-old's ability to solve calculus problems. But such ideas
are only general; we need specific tests of specific control processes
-- not "general ability." If you start with knowledge of what a child
can control, you can teach that child how to control it a little better,
or how to control something a little more complex.

So what CAN children of a given age control? Does anyone know? We're not
talking PCT now, which is a theory, but facts. What we need is people
with experience to start thinking in terms of control skills, and to
begin devising tasks which will test the quality of control. We need
people to collect the facts. Until this is done, nobody is going to know
how to apply PCT to testing.

A PCT test should begin with a clear definition of a variable to be
controlled, a reference level for that variable, an action that can
affect that variable, and a disturbance which, by itself, would also
affect that variable in a known way. What we want to know is at least:

1. What variable is actually being controlled?

2. With no disturbance, how close is the variable to the reference
condition?

3. How effective is the action for correcting the error?

4. How much error is there when we apply disturbances of different
amounts, direction, and rates of change?

The whole trick in devising a PCT test is to translate the abstract
terms in these questions into the specific terms of a specific task. If
the task is to add two numbers, what is the variable being controlled,
what is the reference condition, what constitutes a disturbance, and
what is the reaction to a disturbance? If the task is to obtain a toy to
play with, ditto. If the task is to go to the bathroom, ditto.

I couldn't devise such tests because I don't have any experience with
children in large numbers. The people who do have such experience are
the ones to do the translating and devise the tests.
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Best,

Bill P.