October 19th, 2023
Legibility is a concept near and dear to me. It reminded me of a recent Dan Davies post (whose forthcoming book on the industrialization of decision making I am anxious to devour). I fear legibility is demonized when in reality it is almost identical to the notion something like "if you're not applying some simplifying model, you're likely just applying a naive one."
Relevant excerpt from Dan's post:
"A common theme of this ‘stack is that the business of management is, literally, making things manageable. It’s the activity of taking all the information that the world generates every day, and deciding what you’re going to throw away, what you’re going to filter out and summarise in order to get something that it’s possible to make decisions about.
The trick is not to try and find the perfect summary metric, but nor is it to stare at areas under curves until you think you’ve captured the gestalt. It’s to have the capacity to take a step back; to mostly think about the single numbers, but to be aware that you’re throwing information away and that you need to rummage through the discard bin every now and then."
The last sentence also seems like a good connection to the right balance of attention vs. awareness! Attention as the metric you pay your focus to, and awareness as bandwidth allocated to some latent sensory activities outside that metric.
I like the fact that you define "Awareness" as "the organization’s ability to sense and understand its environment". However businesses are not people (even though managed by them), and for that I think the Graph of Focus vs Awareness is not the right approach. I see a lot of businesses that are aware of the surrounding environment and the changes happening, but they don't understand the impact of those changes on their own system. Others understand the impact of the changes, but do nothing about it. So does that mean they are less aware?
On the other hand, in business we do need focus (moving with intention) so the business may develop. But even with focus, there is also a problem. Some are very focused and doing things with intention, but without a uniform direction. Plenty of companies using OKR's, and applying all the rules, but internally going in different directions, even though they are under the same goal.
So I would use FOCUS vs DIRECTION, as a good metric to see if the company has an intention well established, but also if the direction is also shared along all elements of the company, so it may move with intention.
For AWARNESS, maybe we could use EXTERNAL CHANGES vs INTERNAL CHANGES, as a metric to evaluate their ability to be fully aware of changes and their impact in business.
But for what I think is the goal of this article maybe a graph EVENTS vs SELF-ADJUST?
Regarding the term "ORGANIZATION" used multiple times to describe a company or a business, I would prefer to adopt the same concept of Dr. Russel L. Ackoff and call it instead "SYSTEM" or "BUSINESS SYSTEM". After all, if we're using a system thinking approach, we can't use old fashioned concepts. Einstein said "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
Here is a great lecture about BUSINESS SYSTEMS from Dr. Russel L. Ackoff: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZyIEtn-bglAPKynIQg6SbRDzdt_sAQ5O