Without structure, our service management knowledge is merely a collection of observations, practices and conflicting goals. (ITIL Service Strategy)Structure keeps us from doing the same mistakes over and over if we learn to improve by incorporating feedback (previous post). ITIL describes a framework for managing business services which can be as personal as a blog or as large as an international corporation.
Structure determines behavior
I’m sure you act differently when you wear a suit instead of a t-shirt and jeans. In your sales or marketing position, you create an operating structure with a phone, a computer, and a contact list. Your behavior would be different if your structure was a car, a map, and a thousand samples of a product to sell. When we change the structure, we change the behavior and the resulting events that come from that.
Your experience you receive during those events is useless if you don’t have a structure to change because that experiential feedback can’t be incorporated into your learning to improve your job. So structure trumps experience as well. Who would you rather hire in a sales representative job
- a green sales rep that mentored with a sales master for one year and understands the buying cycle completely but hasn’t struck out on his own
- a 20 year rainmaker veteran who has been with the best companies in the city, has a good network of contacts, and says that he’s a natural and doesn’t need a new fangled way to do better-I’m-just-fine-the-way-I-am-thank-you
Structure is how you connect
Until you confront the way that you are really connected to your world, you won’t be able to make a significant change to how you perform. It’s the connections between all the pieces of the puzzle that make a difference and not the components themselves that matter. A systems approach in IT as well as business will look at all of the constituent parts of the organization in order to make an organizational transformation.
Tom Webster of BrandSavant recently posted about Processing Qualitative Research Data With Tinderbox. The great thing about that Mac product is that it allows you to start with unstructured focus group data and develop a structure for interpreting it as you work with it. It's a solution for two hard problems at once - how to create a structure and how to work with qualitative data effectively.
The last post in this series on systems theory in business will look at the consequences of ignoring a systems approach.
Image by nima; via Flickr