Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The structure of the chasm.

I am reading "Rationality in Action", a fascinating philosophy book by a UC Berkeley professor John Searle. In the book, Searle not only critiques the so-called Classical Model of Rationality that, among other things, serves as a basis for today's thinking about organizations, but also provides a modern framework of rationality that can be applied to the theory and practice of innovation.

He makes a case for desire-independent reasons for action that are created by people who assume responsibilities, e.g. within an organization, when the take on certain roles. One immediate implication would be that Christensen's Values/Resources/Processes framework is incorrect in at least its Values and Processes aspects. That is, employees don't act in a certain way because they suddenly get company values when they join the organization. Rather, by joining it, they assume non-contractual obligations that set essential conditions for employment, and these conditions are enforced by organizational culture and a system of monetary and other incentives.

Searle also talks about gaps "between causes in the form of your beliefs, desires, and other reasons, and the actual decision that you make." The gaps are as follows: 1) decision-making, when you have to make up your mind with regard to a course of actions; 2) action-making, i.e. the gap between decision and action; 3) activity-making, when you need to sustain the initial action to carry on a complex activity. Being aware of these three gaps is very important for designing and analysis of technology, i.e. a series of complex actions that involve equipment, people, management procedures, interfaces, and etc. (Chapter 1. p.14-15).

tags: theory, innovation, control, process, course, book

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