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This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

What were those boxes and arrows all about? -- In a comment, Joe Ely asked me to expand on Saturday's posting -- the one with the boxes and arrows. All righty, then...

As I mentioned in the post itself, it came out of a partial interpretation of Mitch Ratcliffe's essay on Invisible Dogma. As mentioned in my original text response, the idea of unverbalized paradigms is common to the analytical approach to problem solving known as the Theory of Constraints Thinking Processes. I started "thinking" about the existence of invisible dogma and its implications. The graphic depicts possible cause-and-effect relationships (the arrows) between the various situations described by the boxes. The little ellipses through which some sets of arrows pass through imply an "and" relationship. For example, if I have a sense of "doing the best I can," and if I attribute success to certain skills and actions, and if I suffer from unexpected setbacks, then I would likely blame external factors.

What you actually see there is a very rough fragment of a Current Reality Tree (CRT) related to the subject. To make it less "rough," the boxes would have full sentences, and there would probably be more boxes, fleshing out additional boxes (so far unverbalized) assumptions, and ellipses that would make the cause-and-effect logic "air-tight." A full CRT would also have a set of UnDesirable Effects (UDEs) that would reflect symptoms of a problematic system. It would also have a more formal base, that expresses a conflict or dilemma that can be seen as a perpetuating core (root cause) problem for the whole dysfunctional system.

But even without the rigor of a nice "dry" CRT (as opposed to one, like this, held together with logical "spit"), I think the logic holds up good enough as a little exploration of a piece of the invisible dogma dynamic. Maybe someday, I'll get around to digging into it deeper, particularly to develop an understanding of the conflict/dilemma that perpetuates invisible dogma. For certain domains, like production managment, project management, marketing, and others, the specific core conflicts and their unstated assumptions are well understood and can be exposed to organizations that suffer from them. But the idea of a general theory of the perpetuation of the assumptions/dogma is intriguing.

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