Mountains near Château-d'Oex. (c) E. Forrest Christian

Project Portfolios Require High-Level Capability

E. Forrest Christian Organizations, Project Management, Risk Management Leave a Comment

In Waltzing With Bears, Lister and DeMarco describe the benefits of running IT projects within a portfolio. Not every one of them would have to succeed: you could take on several very high-risk (but high-payoff) projects and balance it with several low risk / low payoff projects. Having low-risk/high pay-off projects would be great, but most of the time those …

Belgian royal conservatory's dome, interior with sun. (c) E. Forrest Christian

Hierarchy versus Emergence in Organizations

E. Forrest Christian Organizations 5 Comments

Hierarchies are emergent phenomena. One of the things that has bothered me with the several “postmodern” discussions about organizational life has been the disregard for hierarchies often expressed by them. Flat oranizations are superior to hierarchical ones, they say, because inforrmation and knowledge flows more freely between equals. I agree that information and knowledge flows better between equals but I …

Satellite image of Laguna San Antonio, Bolivia. NASA image

Self-Organizing for Success in IT?

E. Forrest Christian Organizations 3 Comments

I’ve been thinking about how many things have to get done right in order to any of the projects that I am working on to be successful. I’m show surprised that anything ever gets accomplished. There has to be a better way. If societies can evolve into complex structures through emergent whatevers, why can’t information systems? Image credit: Satellite image …

Victorian woman walking between two men in bowlers. Vintage Field and Garden, small business / blog license.

How Berners-Lee Finally Built Hypertext By Taking It Back 30 Years

E. Forrest Christian Computers/IT, Knowledge, Organizations, Reviews - Articles Leave a Comment

There were lots of more interesting and much more robust systems that provided better access to knowledge. But they didn’t have Berners-Lee and his peculiar mix of vision and practicality. That mix was uncommon, and for innovators to be successful with bringing technology to change the world, they have to believe that they work for a greater good.

Aberdeen Angus im Gadental an den Steilhängen des Muttawangjoch oder auch Mutterwangjoch genannt. Im Hintegrund die Südflanke des Feuerstein 2271m. (c) Böhringer Friedrich (CC BY-SA 3.0 AT)

Risky Monocultures: In Agriculture or IT Systems, It’s Bad Risk Taking

E. Forrest Christian Computers/IT, Knowledge, Organizations, Risk Management Leave a Comment

You wouldn’t think that books discussing agronomics would have much to say relevant to Organizational Structure, IT Management or Knowledge Management. You’d be wrong, of course, but you can see how people would think that. I’d like to show how some of the ideas being debated in the agricultural industry’s fringes can illuminate our own issues. James C. Scott, in …

Bix sits in confusion (Detail), from "Heaven's to Betsy!", Club "16" comics

Do Best Practices Destroy Long Term Value in Knowledge Management & Process Design?

E. Forrest Christian Knowledge, Organizations Leave a Comment

Jack Vinson has an interesting report on a recent presentation by Bob Hiebeler of St. Charles Partners. The fascinating part was the discussion of “best practices”: it got me thinking about James C. Scott’s Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (The Institution for Social and Policy St) and what it implies for …

Training in China for the AP1000 reactor. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

How Do You Know If The Training Was Worth It?

E. Forrest Christian Organizations Leave a Comment

While reviewing training literature recently, I stumbled on Daniel R. Tobin’s The Knowledge-Enabled Organization: Moving from “Training” to “Learning” to Meet Business Goals through some serendipitous web searches. My enquiry first led me to his website that dealt with “The Fallacy of ROI Calculations for Training“. An obvious ploy to perk up my ears. The article is an abbreviated version …

Belgian royal conservatory's dome, interior with sun. (c) E. Forrest Christian

It All Comes Together

E. Forrest Christian Knowledge, Organizations Leave a Comment

Mètis — “practical intelligence, using conjectural and oblique knowledge, which anticipates, modifies and influences the fate of events in adversity and ambiguity” according to Baumbard — has reminded me of something that I read some time back. This led me to see some connections between knowledge management, Elliott Jaques’s Requisite Organization and wisdom. (And thanks to jmmj for conversation on …

Leaving Yongsan Station. (c) Danleo (CC BY 2.5). Via Wikimedia Commons.

De-escalation of Commitment to Projects

E. Forrest Christian Organizations, Project Management, Reviews - Articles, Risk Management Leave a Comment

There is a large body of work dealing with the escalation of commitment in IT projects, how managers continue to throw good money after bad, increasing their commitment to a project that has little chance of succeeding. For example, Gustavo Dimello has an interesting summary (“To Pull or Not To Pull the Plug: When Managers Commit Themselves to Failure”) of …