Everyone knows that the
skill of the workers doing the various jobs within an organization will
directly effect what the organization can achieve. This is common
knowledge. Is it common practice?
Find a solution (i.e. knowing what-to-do)
requires some knowledge of how-to-do (i.e. the skills required to
implement). Knowing how-to-do does not mean that one knows what should
be done. How-to-do is usually very closely related to knowing
what-to-do. I grant that sometimes the two can be totally separated.
For example, I may not know how to unclog the toilet at home, but I
still know what to do. Call a plumber. Of course, this is a very
inefficient way to run a home if the only thing the toilet needed was
two quick pushes with a plunger. In an optimally achieving organization
the two always go hand and hand. Everything I said about knowing what
to do applies to knowing how to do. After all, the skill of making a
good decision of what to do is also a how-to-do skill.
I have separated the decision of what to
do from the actual work because this is the common sequence of things.
Additionally the simulations show that the what-to-do decision process
has more leverage than the how-to-do work activity in the optimally
achieving organization. This is because of the greater cost and time
implication of a mistake made during the design phase versus the
Before closing the discussion on what and
how to do I have one last comment. If everyone knows that the skill of
the workers doing the various jobs within an organization will always
directly effect what the organization can achieve, then everyone is
wrong. The simulations do indeed show that within a certain range of
skill this is critically true. It is common practice to specify a
minimum skill for a position. It is also common to hear that someone is
over qualified. The simulations show that there is a valid reason for
both of these. There exists a critical skill level for each task such
that increasing the skill level above this will provide a diminishing
return in organization achievement. At some point a further increase in
skill provides no further increase in organization achievement and
decreasing the skill below this critical value will diminish the benefit
provided by the person until no benefit occurs and diminishing the skill
further can have no effect.
What, all too frequently happens, is that
management develops the view that anyone in the appropriate skill range
will do. It is generally true that the optimal is near the maximum and
that people are not interchangeable. It makes a significant difference
who occupies each role. It is just that there is an upper bound where
further skill is not required.
It might seem that an optimally achieving
organization would have a corresponding optimal level of skill for each
role. Bear in mind that the optimally achieving organization is one
that satisfies a set of wants. A part of the wants trade-off is cost
and time. Increasing the skill of the persons in the organization's
roles will, in general, increase costs. It will also require time to
acquire the skill. Therefore there exists a point where increasing or
decreasing the skill of person in a role will result in a reduction in
overall want satisfaction. Unfortunately the theory behind the
simulations tells that we cannot know where this point is and even if we
could find it, it would change before we could react to it. Thus, it is
necessary to engage people whose skills extend beyond the believed
requirements of their roles. You must study this carefully.
Things are always in flux. This leads to
the topic of the next section.
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(C) 2005-2014 Wayne M. Angel.
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