time span of discretion

Learn Decisional Due Date and Build Dynamic, Decision-Driven Organizations

Men of Fort Story operate an azimuth instrument, to measure the angle of splash in sea-target practice. 1942. (reversed)

Elliott Jaques is rightly praised for many things: first one to apply the ideas of social culture to the life inside organizations; identified and named the “mid-life crisis” (sorry Gail Sheehy!); led the longest on-site social research efforts at Glacier Metal Company, running some 25 years; and developing a method for building the requisite organizational structure for any managerial endeavor.

If Your Boss Doesn’t Want You Preventing Problems, What Is Ethical To Do?

Lighthouse at night, (c) 2009 Martin Belam. Via flickr. (CC BY SA 2.0)

Last time I recommended that if you are in an environment where the management rewards “firefighter” project managers rather than PMs who prevent them from ever occurring, you need to let some fires start. (“You Have To Let the Project Break So You Can Prove Yourself By Fixing It”) I wasnt saying start them on your own but simply don’t take the steps that the firm doesn’t reward to prevent them.

Why Time Span of Discretion Works

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Timespan of Discretion is the biggest point of complaint that the old folks in the Glacier Metal related work (Requisite Organization, Stratified Systems Theory, Career Path Appreciation, work levels or worklevels, etc.). If you’re new, you may be scratching your head about this Time Span of Discretion.

Elliott Jaques claimed to have discovered that you could determine the complexity of a…

It’s About Time, Underachievers!

Conductor checks his watch to find out how much time remains at the Bloomington, Illinois, stop on the Turboliner run between St. Louis, Missouri, and Chicago. Photo by Charles O'Rear for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1970). (NARA record: 3403717)

When last we left them, the three union men Glacier Metal Company managers had burst upon Elliott Jaques with the brilliant solution that had come to them while drinking: the reason why some people got paid more than others had to do with how long it took to get paid. My fictionalization aside, what made this any more brilliant than the last idea I had for solving the company’s problems whilst…

Integrity Will Get You Promoted, But Limited Vision Will Get You Fired

Traffic signal at Tamil Nadu. (c) 2011 Thamizhpparithi Maari (CC BY SA 3.0)

Elliott Jaques talks about time span of discretion — the time from a decision to when that work decision comes due — as a way to measure how “big” a role is. This is related to your personal time horizon, how far you can think into the future to handle uncertainty and complexity.

Lots of people disagree with it.

What’s interesting is how many CEOs provide support for…

Requisite Organization in Software Development & Information Technology

Château-d'Oex at night, looking across to the mountain. (c) E. Forrest Christian.

Software development groups almost always form a shadow hierarchy or pecking order of merit. Elliott Jaques’s theory of Requisite Organization explains why.

The person with the longest Time Horizon cleans the toilets

ADLER typewriter Model n°7 (Frankfurt / Germany). Unknown model date (probably ~1930/40). By Dake

Besides having a very entertaining title, Marc Bilodeau and Al Silvinski’s “Tolient Cleaning and Department Chairing: Volunteering a Public Service” (1994) has some interesting proofs. Basically, they want to put forth some propositions about figuring out who would volunteer to do an activity that no one wants to do but that everyone would benefit from. Specific examples can be found in t…

Time Span of Discretion Matters, and not Complexity

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Time Span of Discretion is what determines the size of the role, and not some measure of “complexity”.

Harald Solaas, who wrote a comment to “Does Requisite Organization Really Work Over the Weekend?”, has written an article entitled “Why Is Requisite Organization (RO) Theory So Difficult to Understand?.” In it, he relates the following story about working with Elliot Jaques on a Requisit…

Know Your Projects’ IT Level of Complexity and Explode Up Your Success Rates

Man drawing complex diagrams on whiteboard. (c) alphaspirit. Shutterstock.

How do I consult to a non-Requisite Organization, one whose very organizational structure means that they will not succeed at this change? I can’t in good conscience tell them that whatever I suggest will have much of an effect on their performance as a group.

Simplifying Project Costing & Staffing with Requisite Organization’s Time Span of Discretion

Stack of golden George Washington dollar coins,. (c) 2007 Bill Koslosky, MD (CC BY 2.5)

I don’t think that I am going out on a limb when I say that short time horizons of project managers, sponsors and planners is the leading cause to the disastrous failure rate of IT projects… As Michelle says, “you want a consultant whose current capability at least equals that called for by the entire project, not just the time span of the planning phase.””

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