Optimal Leadership  by Wayne M. Angel, Ph.D.
The Optimal Organization: Apply The Skills




The Quest - A Preface

About This Site

Optimal Leadership
  The Optimal Organization
    From Where the 5 Critical Factors?
      The 5 Critical Factors
      Understand Who Wants What
      Find a Solution
      Apply the Skills
      Establish Feedback
      Establish Foresight

      Other Possibilities

  Causes of Organization Failure
  Creating the Optimal Organization
  The Optimal Change Agent

The Theory of Society

Organization Simulations

SignPost Technologies
                    & Services

Utopian Dreams

The Android Project

Discussion Forum
About the Author
Contact Me

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 development phase.

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.  All rights reserved.