TEAM BUILDING FOR NEW BUSINESS; Over-riding Organizational Influences, and Implications for Change

February 14, 2011
A Case Institute OB Program, PhD Thesis research report for circulation, April 25, 2010.

by William J LeGray


“Team Building for New Business” research was ‘enabled’ at TRW. Results were: Productivity (job performance ratings) significantly correlated w Role Clarity and Job Security (beliefs), within a proposal task force. These findings have everlasting relevance for persons engaged in engineering and manufacturing, & other technological, endeavors. Categorical interview data was statistically analyzed, and a draft thesis was completed at year end 1965. A final thesis was posted (in story form) in LinkedIn’s BoxNet Files for sharing on April 25, 2010.

Author’s Note: Short story tales have been established as a particularly effective means of transferring learning, and wisdom, for the benefit of future generations, and just plain historical documentations.


When it came time to begin organizing a PhD dissertation effort to conclude my further commitment to learning and contribute to higher education in the new field of OB (Organizational Behavior), I sought opportunities to be useful at a high tech company in town with whom CIT was affiliated. The company was a long-time Mid Western automotive supplier, and they also operated a space technology laboratories and program management facility in Redondo Beach California.

At the California location, pioneering efforts for OD (Organization Development) were conceived for Career Development (CD). And, shortly after the VP responsible for CD went to direct the OMSF (Office of Manned Space Flight) at NASA Headquarters, where I was invited to be a summer Intern. I was aboard to assist with the migration of OD/CD improvements into the “new NASA” organizational configuration, and assist with related matters.

The HRD VP at the company, in town (nearby CIT), believed my commitments and supported my efforts. So, I was able to speak with different managers about thesis topics that could be beneficial for Operational Effectiveness (OE) in various areas of the company. My first discussions were with the Research Labs, and my proposal was to investigate their “Organizational Climate (OC).” This was not a new subject in the social research area, but one that had been lingering around with loosely connected vague and emerging concepts for years. And, to provide an OC Survey competency, with more mobility, could be useful. However, the manager’s attention span for proposals about this sort activity was short. It was difficult to claim that the expected results (which were mostly unknown) would be worth “the trip”, considering the investment of resources that would be required.

Concurrently, about this time our CIT OB Program was starting up an OD development contract effort with the company. There were at least two of us (both PhD students) involved. Since, the other was more senior in the program, he was the primary contact regarding the contract. The company was in an economic “lull” and the supplier company had been working on a preparing a proposal to obtain a military production contract for the manufacture of weaponry components.


Fortunately, it became apparent that a useful OD contribution (and thesis research possibility) could be explored by interviewing members of the proposal team, and with a thorough analysis of the relevant data, a report out to the team (and the company) could be presented to record “what went right”, and “how to better conduct these proposal efforts” in the future.

When they began, the proposal team was not a front-runner. They were number 24 (down) on a listing of contenders. But, they were dedicated and hard-hitting. The team included people representing all the necessary technical disciplines from within the company. There were as many as 85 (max), but mostly there was a core group of 60 people involved in the task force effort. They’d already formulated a “plan and procedures” pathway, and had defined their “communications and workflow” requirements to do the job right.

The team was rapidly ascending upward through the list of competitors, and they became top contenders, with high hopes for the proposal they’d submitted. They had done their best to perform the “digging”, and “cooperative team effort”, required. This period, just after submittal, appeared to be the best time to conduct the interviews. And, each of the 60 people, most involved, were asked the same set of questions by one of the three members of the interview team. The 1-hour interviews were conducted in a semi-structured way, so that descriptive data about task force conditions would become available. Then, with codification, tabulation, and analysis, there would be possibilities for developing the “new guidelines” for future proposal efforts.

Time was of the essence because we wanted to capture impressions from the entire team, be able to analyze the data, and provide a report out before the team disbanded. After a few interviews, and getting together to discuss improving our Interview Questionnaire Sheet, we completed the 60 interviews (marking quantitative responses, and taking qualitative comments). We gathered a fantastic database- rich with actual perceptions from out of the situation, and offering much potential learning. We had obviously chosen a difficult path, and created hard work for ourselves, mostly because the output data obtained was only semi-structured and classified.


Our “clinical” approach promised the greatest of possibilities for revealing the “useful insights” we were trying to uncover. It would have been much easier to do a straightforward questionnaire survey, allowing rapid tabulations for quick feedback. But, then we would have preconceived the eventual findings, and fresh discoveries were the objective. However, because it was important to complete the interviews before the winner was announced, we made sure to collect a few easily quantifiable responses

Research methods are obviously a “classical issue” in conducting organizational, or related medical research, and this is why OD has evolved with practitioners using survey questionnaires, action research methods, and action learning facilitation approaches. All have a time and/or place, and utility, when aiming for new discovery, growth, and knowledge clarity.

For each of the questions discussed with the participants, the study team developed a minimum number of response categories. Initially, there was a total of 39 questions on the Interviewer’s Questionnaire. Then, to determine areas of strong “perceptual” consensus and get closer to identifying those conditions that seemed to be most relevant amongst the participants, information from each of the interviews were codified. For each of the questions discussed, the study team developed a minimum number of response categories, and 207 “clear” response categories emerged. Each question, with two or more response categories, provided the TF “conditions” data required for analysis. In addition, data was collected for a few other study variables from the company’s records.

To analyze this abundance of data about task force conditions, the relatedness of each study variable to performance ratings and overall attitude scores was an objective. Independently, each member of the study team judged which of the 207 factors he thought indicated a favorable or unfavorable condition. The result was solid agreement that there were 33 favorable and 33 unfavorable kinds of response categories. For each participant, a response ratio (=  # of favorable / # of unfavorable responses) provided an overall attitude score for each individual.

In addition to quantifying a “new” abstract variable like the overall attitude score, the managers became very interested in learning how the various conditions related to productivity. So, performance ratings were obtained for each of the 60 participants regarding “how one did the job he was expected to do.” And, all the rating supervisors agreed that this “was” the rationale for each of the ratings. The regular rating scale, in use throughout the company, was used, and it had five intervals from “low (did not satisfy)” to “exceptional (consistently high level).”

To compare “reported conditions” and “more favored/less favored performances”, the Chi Squared procedure was used. Participants with above and below ratings (relative to the supervisor’s mean ratings) provided the two “productivity” groupings. Since only categorical data came from the interviews, the usual statistical assumptions associated with the “Bell shaped curve” (linearity, equal intervals, and normality) did not apply, and it became necessary to apply non-parametric statistical techniques. The Chi Square Test proved to be the most useful method for validity testing.


The results clearly established (with p= 0.05 strength) that:

1. Whether or not one’s previous job was ongoing (an indication of Job Security), and

2.  Whether or not task force job expectations were made clear (an indication of Role Clarity),

were. both, significantly related to job performance ratings (a indication of Productivity). Restated, these findings provide a solid  basis for concluding that Job Security and Role Clarity. both, significantly affected an individual’s contribution to overall team performance and productivity.

There were other significant factors more weakly related to “productivity”:

1. Feeling responsible, and having frequent home department backing (both with p= 0.10), and

2. Job on TF was a voluntary assignment (not arranged), expected job duration was clear, individual received orientation to TF by TF manager rather than someone else, and recognition of contribution was direct versus being just subtle (all four with a strength of p= 0.20).

And, from among the, approximately, 73 emergent (response) “condition” categories, there were several related to  “favorable overall individual attitude ratios” (with a strength of p= 0.05, or better):

+ Having a choice re the TF job, feeling good about the job, having clear job expectations, being able to meet expectations,

+ Orientation was adequate, was able to influence work, work was challenging, work was in keeping with talent, there was adequate progress feedback,

+ Rated well by management, having good management direction, contributions were recognized, felt chances of winning were good, and would want to work on the team if the contract was rewarded to their company.

And, actually, the company did win the contract award- an absolutely, remarkable, “all out effort” achievement.

Note: Many of the above findings would appear to be “common sense” expectations, but now with the application of some statistical power, the statements are “more than” just suppositions.


Over the interim 45 years, since this research report was first drafted, I’ve made assertions many times, on experience summaries, by stating the following:

“Productivity (i.e. job performance ratings) significantly correlated w Role Clarity and Job Security (beliefs), within a proposal task force. This finding has everlasting relevance for persons engaged in technical, human endeavors. December 1965.”

Finding the opportunity to conduct organizational research, such as “this” particular one, is usually a once in a lifetime experience. And, the validation of conclusions (for espousing recommendations) was very tedious. And, since the above findings relate to “over-riding organizational influences, and Implications of needs for change”, it has been disappointing to see little progress about correcting much of the “lost work” affecting our nation’s productivity.

Quite frankly, the “down-trodden” condition of some segments of scientists, engineers, and other technologists has been of great concern to me for almost 55 years. If one only begins to become more sensitive to our existing infrastructure repair/replacement, and new alternative energy needs (for example), there should be “ample embarrassment” about the management and technological obsolescence conditions prevalent in our society, today. And , as a result, lots of motivation to organize better, together.

One suggestion is that someone, some influential change agent group, or some governance activity (somewhere) should focus on resolving these issues better, i.e. finding ways to “become more  effective” and “avoid abnormal unemployment.”  To often, to many people (educators and students) have paid a high price for valuable talents that were disrupted- and basically “benched” on the sidelines.

Perhaps, more consideration should be given to creating a better “follow through”, after people have been “inspired and encouraged to deep dive” for learning and skill development? Perhaps, we should be more responsive to “our shameful use of human resources conditions”, while our society is  “up against” severely increasing needs for talent?

April 25, 2010

OD Team Building, and Making more Headway- re Education, Roles, Jobs, People Specialists, Productivity, and Economic Outlooks

February 2, 2011

Drafted: 31Jan2011, by William J. LeGray.


Human education processes, and systems, currently are intent on making more headway for stronger Economic Outlooks. Desires abound for getting “it” right. And, the “right stuff” seems related to   regroupings and retooling, HSD (Human System Development) and Organizational Effectiveness (OE), and optimizing societal benefits and sustenance.  All (of this) seems to exist for improving lean, smart, and happy consequences.

Societies have always had keepers of the “flames” for comfort and enlightenment. And, these “torches of knowledge” have been passed forward for enlightenment, cooperative endeavors (teamwork), creativity and reinvention (innovation), beginnings and change (for a renaissance, now and then), and, finally for continuing individual development and organizational growth (to actualize progress).

As populations have increased, and new territories have been settled, civil ways have emerged among people for jointly motivating actions for success, and maintaining the camaraderie and faith necessary for a better future. The enactment of schooling, and eventually that of education (and higher education), became the place where the stewardship and conservation of knowledge about roles and responsibilities were active. These activities of mutual concern provided the primary focus for assuring perpetual improvements. They effectively enabled the preservation of heritage and progress (throughout the years), and were primary.

Bartering- the exchange of services, and currencies- when trading valued (product and/or or effort) became the way for organized human accomplishment. And, preferably, the exchanges were freely expressed, mutually guided, and self-directed. These business involvements (this business of trading) usually reflected interactions, which were collaborative and cooperative, and also resulted in future, investments in ongoing relationships for increasing economic advancement and progress. Learning these processes became “central” to becoming prepared to do the jobs required, the job performances demanded, and the creation of new, improved, job roles and responsibilities.

More specifically, most often, the knowledge and status “about jobs”, and the history and outlook for future employment possibilities, has generally been tracked by our institutions for accelerated learning (both formal, and informal), our governing agencies, our Personnel & Organization activities, and our HRD (Human Resources Development) “people specialists.” And, the marketing, searching, hiring, and placement of individuals into jobs (within organized endeavors) evolved to become a jointly influenced process where the participants shared mutual benefits.

OD Team Building research in the Applied Behavioral Sciences has discovered by statistical significance, from out of a semi-structured interviewing situation, that two primary (especially important) variables affecting Job Performance are “Role Clarity, and Job Security.” (1) With regard to the management of “Roles” in organizations, there has been extensive study and reporting of “Requisite Organization” – a set of principles that provide guidance for effective action. (2) Applying these concepts has resulted in improved performances and exemplary workplaces, and the guidelines have been widely promulgated.

Regarding “Job Security”, this variable appears to be primarily the consequence of: an individual’s self-development and fortitude, and the interpersonal and intra-organizational administrative milieu- i.e. all those actions which are the result of personal desires and surrounding influences when striving to achieve effectiveness. Research has also shown that “self worth, and belonging” are especially important variables regarding these organizational matters. (3)

Roles and Jobs come and go. They are constantly changing and in transition. The behavioral economics and performance consequences can be explained rationally and irrationally. (4) There are mature, established, developing, emerging, and fleeting (in appearance) occupations, professions, and practices. Individual goals for stability and sustenance suggest that people strive to create and maintain a strong grasp on all of the knowledge and organizational factors that are relevant in order for them to be effective. Most often, sufficiency is reliant on associations, and affiliations, which are the result of groups and networks, which revolve around “common, shared” concepts, principles, and purposes.

Historically, there are regular assessments about “Where the Jobs are”, and, correspondingly, where they are unlikely. (5) And, because the “governance of nations” and “cooperation between peoples” both ultimately determine resultant conditions, it has recently become useful to track such intersections between profit making and policy making to understand and communicate personally relevant information. (6)

For once in a lifetime, today, we are fortunate to have Humanitarian, World Banking, United Nations, and other caring and assisting organizations for peace keeping and economic improvement.  All of these efforts, and many more, add value and are of great importance. Yet, for many (most) of us, participation is out of reach because of needs to attend to immediate daily responsibilities. However, it behooves each of us to keep informed- so that we can properly participate in our democratic processes of shared governance, and also do our very best to be knowledgeable about controlling our own destiny.

Note: Several additional references are included (below) to assist comprehension of these “OD Team Building, and Behavioral Economic Implications”, which have been discussed.


1. “TEAM BUILDING FOR NEW BUSINESS: Over-riding Organizational Influences, and Implications for Changes- a Short Narrative”, by William J. LeGray, a Final Reporting of Case Institute (CIT), OB PhD, Thesis research, 1965, starting from where I left off at COB 1965, posted on LinkedIn in Box Net files, April 2010.

2. “Organization Design, Levels of Work and Human Capability: Executive Guide, by 40 authors from around the world, edited by Ken Shepard, Jerry L. Gray, & James G. (Jerry) Hunt, published by the Global Organization (GO) Design Society, July 16, 2007.

3. “Interpersonal Competence and Organizational Effectiveness, by Chris Argyris, of Yale University, from the Irwin-Dorsey Press, 1962.

4. “Irrational Exuberance- Second Edition”, by Robert J. Shiller, published by Broadway Books, New York, 2005 (originally by Princeton University Press, in 2000).

5. “Where the Jobs are”, by Bill Saporito, article in Time magazine, pg. 26, February 17, 2000 issue.

6. “Bloomberg Government Insider”, (new) from Bloomberg Government (, a (new) special Winter 2011 section of Bloomberg Business Week magazine, a January 2011 issue.

7. “New Patterns of Management”, by Rensis Likert, Source: from the University of Michigan, December 1961.

8. “Dynamics of Planned Change: A Comparative Study of Principles and Techniques, by Ronald Lippitt and etc., Source: from the University of Michigan, December 1958.

9. “A Theory of Group Development”, by Warren G. Bennis and Herbert A. Shepard, 1956, a Chapter in “T-Group Theory and Laboratory Method: Innovation in Re-education”, edited by Leland Bradford, and published by Wiley, January 1, 1967.

10. “On Temporary Systems”, by Matthew B. Miles, Chapter 19 in “”Innovation in Education”, edited by Matthew B. Miles, Teachers College Press, Columbia University, New York, 1964.

11. “Managing Intergroup Conflict in Industry”, by Robert R. Blake, Herbert A. Shepard, and Jane S. Mouton, Gulf Publishing Co., Houston, Texas, 1964.

12. “Rules of Thumb for Change Agents”, by Herbert A. Shepard, reprinted by kind permission of Portsmouth Consulting Group, 1974.

13. “The People Specialists”, by Stanley M. Herman, published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1968.

WJL, 013111

OD in the Future- Within (for) any Endeavor

December 5, 2010

Drafted 12Dec2010 by William J. LeGray.

This writing is a followup companion statement to “Herb Shepard’s Rules of Thumb for Change Agent” authored in 1974- being drafted (now, in 2010) while still sharing a similar “spirit and mandate.” Both statements followed an inspiration about promulgating findings and and contributions re “Social Theory and Social Structure”, as exemplified by the spirited investigative and authorship quests of Robert Merton (1968)…… There are very high up (elitist) approaches, when conveying helpful thoughts about dealing with human relationships and organizational matters. And, alternatively (for flexibility and effectiveness), there are the approaches of lower down fliers. Their findings, generally, reflect “connecting” closer to ground, and bottomland, levels- where people and organizations must navigate….. Such low flier statements are primarily experienced based findings from within the Applied Behavioral Sciences task groups- which tend to relate less to contemporary positioning and practices,  and more to way finding and paths. And, these findings often seem to endure more across all ages.


OD IN THE FUTURE- Within (for) any Endeavor.

OD is, especially, useful for consultants who provide advisory services by peering into the future- visionaries, scouts, prognosticators, advisors, counselors, reporters, preachers, teachers, designers, creators, inventors, manufacturers, and constructors. OD consulting involves “fresh eyes visioning, way finding, and path finding.” And, these are “core” functions regarding Consultative Methods.

OD is not for everybody. Some like what the messenger brings to the table, and some don’t. So, there can be consequences, and one must be careful about promulgating “fresh thinking regarding future actions.”

OD (meaning and thought) Consulting involves “fence sitting, and/or fence walking”, and the “balancing” necessary to stay atop is much like tight rope walking. The “balancing” required is a high order cultivated skill involving self control within situations of contemporary concern. Quick readiness and responsiveness (for thought and body control), are only two of the many attributes which enable balancing. Much of the skill resource becomes automatic and arises from training and consequent intuitiveness.

There are many attempts and “falls” from the fence, when learning and growing “balancing” competencies. Surviving and sustaining among others- in various life situations, there are always those concerned about what “type” of person someone is. They need to know enough about the other person they are dealing with, in order to be comfortable. Without a basis of trust (i.e. assurances that there are no ill intentions present due to individual differences), efforts for effective human relations can, at first,  be falter. However, such challenging “environmental conditions- early on, in beginning relationships”, can be very significant “learning (rather than win/lose) exercises” for developing one’s “balancing” skills.

One of the first OD Consultants, ever, was highly revered- not for authoring books; but for practicing and articulating effective interpersonal and inter-group, Consultative Methods, and his “Rules of Thumb for Change Agents” provides a particularly insightful, and personal, statement of “social theory, and structure” for anchoring the profession. It is one of the “original” points of view and is readily available for new participants wishing to learn more about the practicalities of “balancing.” Many of the thoughts reflect “finding a path of least resistance”, and obviously this coincides with sustaining one’s balance and effective performance in workplace situations.

But, what about “all” of the abundant continuing data flowing forth- from out of “all” the various situations, and related conditions, i.e. “all” the thoughts, feelings, and actions arising to be dealt with? Data overload? The answer is: “Not really, a necessary reaction.” To state it simply: “There are many, many stated words, and even body language, but- when we “focus, with balancing”, we must endeavor to “put aside” distracting data which interferes with “what ALL our sensory data is telling us.” We must strive to be “good listeners” in any, and every, situation”- so that we can respond more effectively for the present and the future.

For example, because of our various technology specialties, there are certain words and encounters which have especially “loaded meanings, and predispositions for action”- for each of us individually. Arising above “such obstacles” when “visioning, and/or consulting” can moves us towards being and becoming better listeners. Effective listening is innate, and/or acquired. It can be more “natural (t some) based on preconditioning, and can certainly be cultivated by training and development. Especially useful skills are those relating to being empathetic, and also those for improving memory retention.

Cultivating “balancing” competencies requires life long dedicated efforts. Cultivating- for agricultural purposes, or for habitat maintenance- is “primal” regarding our survival and sustenance. And, competencies are certainly most influential in determining effective performances. So, it is not “strange” that there is a particular “key” competency which exists- that of “balancing.”

And, it is not an accident that in earlier societies certain self educated and forward looking persons- such as soothsayers, visionaries, and medicine men or women- have placed and positioned themselves in environments which cultivate their learning experience. And, because of human nature as we know it, it is not unusual that there have been “good and bad” witches and medical practitioners (in the minds of people).

Another appropriate observation may be that, in some instances, competency development occurred by men and women “roaming” the fields, forests, and waters, and “that growth thrived” by being close to nature and reality, i.e. ground floor primal listening and viewing from outlooks high up was worthwhile. So, there appears to be precedents for suggesting that “fence sitting (or standing) balancing” skills will promulgate  “better outlooks” for researching and consulting.”

But, there are more questions yet to be answered about “balancing.” What is the “stuff” of meaning that affects our balancing act? Historically, and from out of several different civilizations, an absolutely excellent “construct of meaning” is to think of two “differently characterized” streams of smoke appearing along side each of us, along the paths we take. Smoke can be vapor, or gaseous/particulate, trails in our life-sustaining atmosphere. Along the path, there may also be many other appearances, and aberrations encountered. But, visioning beyond, with our trained senses, to pay attention to the “two” special “tailings” present can be especially useful. And, there is some sensing for meaning, which is more indicative and functional for “balancing” than others.

Cultivating to facilitate “balancing” is therefore very much a sensitivity training process- involving application of laboratory methods. However, it seems that individual “mindful faculties” which develop in this way are often not well received. The shortfall is that there has been too much (out-of balance) inductive, rather than deductive, learning and growth, for passable acceptance. Such progress is not very measurable and defensible. So, “school faculties” which have evolved with highly evaluative expectations have had difficulties positioning in higher education circles. And, likewise, they have had difficulty conveying their particular usefulness- within areas of societal engagement where “special and extraordinary” performances are required.

But, now, this beginning of espousing Consultative Balancing may seem to be an ending of the matter. But, not so, because the “shortfall” is mostly just the faltering associated with beginning relationships about what higher education for OD Consulting should be like. In fact, while issues and setbacks have occurred, Visionary Assistive Consulting services provided by OD Practitioners being have been, far reaching and widely, applied in our society, already. And, with this foundation of acceptance, there are hopes that this newer “primal” skill of “balancing” will serve to promote OD thinking and application on a more widespread basis.

Many, and varied, styles and subjects for learning have been offered by OD consultants to serve a broad and diverse variety of client needs. These on-target offerings have served to enrich the availability of OD improvement resources. And, now, to supplement this success, “balancing skills, and possibly related procedures” are being suggested to create increasingly greater improvement opportunities for bringing all the OD categorical specialties into a new coordinated approach for excellence.

The new “balancing” skills proposed involve “envisioning” (beyond the present, and rearward, by trainings for elevating our active intelligence), along with “careful estimations” about the presence, and nature, of the “two special trails” which seem to accompany our very existence. And, from many quarters around the world, an especially useful construct for the “stuff” of the two streams (of meanings), we  evoke concepts from the Tao involving two different arrays of life conditions- commonly know as “Yin and Yang” sets of conditions.

Yin and Yang attributes provide us with a “new” thought construct involving different selected conditions. The concepts are foreign to most, and require some study and explanation for acceptance and use. It was difficult for me, but use of the Y-Y concepts has grown and become firmly rooted, mostly because I have reformulated then according to my own terms and basic thought processes. But, this is OK, because that is the only way, I believe adopting Y & Y concepts can work. And, if it can work well for me (on these terms), it is likely that Y & Y thinking may work also for you.

The “companion Y & Y stuff” (we sense, trailing along side) can take many forms and be described by many characteristics of our own choosing. And, our intrinsic learning may include observations about shapes, directionality, movement, content, whatever. However, there have already been a lot people sharing of Y & Y beliefs and experiences, so that there are resources to guide our own formulations (assumptions) about the amount of Yin and Yang elemental forcefulness present (within organizations and workplaces). Basically, when we are integrating the influences of the Yin and the Yang aspects present, we can then rapidly compose a “Y & Y balancing” assessment. So, with some study and attentiveness, it is possible to more quickly learn and adopt the competencies suggested here.

When getting more definitive, and taking these further steps to guide choices for determining Yin and Yang aspects, there are supplemental “secondary concepts” to consider. And, the following “pairings” of key words (listed below) suggest different “windows” for looking at the “two trailing Y & Y streams” tagging along. Consider relationships amongst the following word sets:


Hope (for success)=========—Fear (of failure)

Administrative Science————Behavioral Management

Authoritarian (edict)————–Participative (ethos)

Law & Order———————Crime & Punishment

Truth &————————-Consequences










These concepts, generally, can be applied in our normally encountered human relations situations- at home, at work, etc. The groupings suggest interactive categories of “phenomena of concern” (conditions, substances, and measures of our existence and being), which relate to Y & Y aspects. Being applicable to human relationship situations, they are also the stuff of Human System Dynamics (HSD). a reorientation for OD thought which has occasionally been suggested.

Other useful arrays, which align the meanings of crucial elements affecting OD Leadership, can be referenced when making Yin & Yang balancing assessments. The arrayed word meanings are as follows:


Macro—————————Micro (12-6 o’clock)

Task—————————-People (9-3)

Strategic Vision——————-Customer Service (10:30-4:30)

Membership Potential————–Resource Management (1:30-7:30)




Finally, there is one more additional, particularly salable, construct related to sustaining “consultancy balance.” It relates to the dynamics of bringing about planned” change, and thereby “transformations.” And, it applies equally, when working with small or large-scale organizations. As with any flow process- like the flow of “meanings, and related learning” which happens, transport theories apply with regards to the formation and depositing of “learning” going into and coming out of different places. And, when all is accounted for, the distribution of available talents (for growth and development) can change in the different places considered. And, in places, when competencies escalate, there are generally more contagions for growth inducing interactions. And, the chances for more growth-oriented couplings with neighboring places increase. Similarly, the effectiveness of entire “company workplaces” and “communities” of practice can be enhanced.

Improvements via growth, and progress, begin with the developmental progress made by each individual contributor. Consequently, “balancing” skills are important considerations for everyone. This need is especially true in higher technology situations where special talents are required, and where enlarged scopes of responsibility exist. It may even happen that there will be more formalizing of Yin and Yang assessments using scientific methods.

If so, this proposal to adopt Consultancy Balancing competencies may receive even more attention than anticipated, and the potential benefits of effectiveness, excellence, and sustainability may increase. Certainly, improving “facilitations and recommendations” about future pathways and transformation goals might become more widespread- and universal. However, be cautious. There is the constant underlying reminder that OD Consultative Balancing is not recommended for everyone, as there may be unanticipated consequences- if acquiring “balancing” skills are “taken on” as a personal goal.



1. “Crucial Issues in Organizational Development”, by Paul C. Buchanan, National Training Laboratories, Washington D.C., 1967.

2. “WOBRIC- Work Obstacle Metric; a tool for measuring factors that inhibit effective work performance”, by the U.S. Department of Energy Carlsbad Area Office (CAO) and Waste Isolation Division of the Westinghouse Electric Co., 1999.

3. “Revisioning Organization Development- Diagnostic and Dialogic Premises and Patterns of Practice”, by Gervase R. Bushe and Robert J. Marshak, Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, May 15, 2009.

4. “The Consultant’s Journey: A Dance of Work and Spirit”, by Roger Harrison, Jossey Bass Business and Management Series, May 1955.

5. “Social Theory and Social Structure”, by Robert K. Merton, Free Press (Publisher), August 1, 1968.

6. “What OD Practitioners Want and Need for Success”, by Matt Minahan, Carrie Hutton, and Marti Kaplan, OD Practitioner, Vol. 24, No. 2, 2002.

7. “The Yin and Yang of OD”, by Matt Minahan, OD Practitioner, Vol.38, No.1, 2006.

8. “Rules of Thumb for Change Agents”, by Herbert A. Shepard, reprinted by kind permission of Portsmouth Consulting Group, 1974.

9. “Organizations Alive! : six things that challenge, seven things that bring success”, by Jan Yuill, Yuill & Associates, Ottawa, Ontario, 2003.


WJL , 120510

Rules of Thumb for Change agents

November 1, 2010

by Herbert A. Shepard, 1974

These useful guidelines (not really rigid rules) reflect the working knowledge and beliefs of the original OD Practitioners which were particularly useful during the “initial” consultative processes. They steadfastly coaxed the evolution of our new branch of learning and application (OD, as we known it today). And, for the future, while we are yet negotiating alignments with more traditional functions and roles, like Human Resources and/or Personnel and Organization, the “guidelines” can continue to be of value. Why? Because OD people believe that more intrinsically based values, beliefs, insights, decisions, and attitudes can be extraordinarily effective during human interactions for team building and consequent achievement. Today, with many more participants in OD (then in 1974), “such thinking” has led to a diversity of competencies and enriched viewpoints for better practices= as  each practitioner cultivates his, or her, own, thoughts based on their educational, and experiential, action learnings.

Rules of thumb for change agents
by Herbert A. Shepard, 1974


Reprinted by kind permission of Portsmouth Consulting Group.

The following aphorisms are not so much bits of advice as things to think about when you are being a change agent, a consultant, an organization or community development specialist –or when you are just being yourself trying to bring about something that involves other people.


This rule counsels against self-sacrifice on behalf of a cause that you do not wish to be your last.

Two exceptionally talented doctoral students came to the realization that the routines they were being put through to get their credentials were absurd, and decided not to complete the degree because they would be untrue to themselves to conform to and support an absurd system. That sort of reasoning is almost always self-destructive. Behind the noble gesture there are usually some childhood-based conflicts that are neither understood nor admitted. Besides their gesture was unlikely to have any impact whatever on the system they were taking a stand against.

This is not to say that one should never take a stand, or a survival risk. But such risks should be taken as part of a purposeful strategy of change, and appropriately timed and targeted. When they are taken under such circumstances, one is very much alive.

But Rule I is much more than a survival rule. The rule means that you should let your whole being be involved in the undertaking. Since most of us have never even been in touch with our whole being, it means a lot of putting together of parts that have been divided, of using internal communication channels that have been closed or were never opened.

Staying alive means loving yourself. Self-disparagement leads to the suppression of potentials, to a win-lose formulation of the world and to wasting life in defensive maneuvering.

Staying alive means staying in touch with your purpose. It means using your skills, your emotions, your labels and positions, rather than being used by them. It means not being trapped in other people’s games. It means turning yourself on and off, rather than being dependent on the situation. It means choosing with a view to the consequences as well as the impulse. It means going with the flow even while swimming against it. It means living in several worlds without being swallowed up in any. It means seeing dilemmas as opportunities for creativity. It means greeting absurdity with laughter while trying to unscramble it. It means capturing the moment in the light of the future. It means seeing the environment through the eyes of your purpose.



This is such ancient wisdom that one might expect its meaning had been fully explored and apprehended. Yet in practice the rule –and the system –is often violated.

The rule implies that one should begin by diagnosing the system. But systems do not necessarily like being diagnosed. Even the term “diagnosis” may be offensive. And the system may be even less ready for someone who calls himself a “change agent”. It is easy for the practitioner to forget the hostility of jargon that prevents laymen from understanding the professional mysteries.

Starting where the client is can be called the Empathy Rule. To communicate effectively, to be able to build sound strategy, the change agent needs to understand how the client sees himself and his situation, and needs to understand the culture of the system.

Establishing the required rapport does not mean that the change agent who wants to work in a traditional industrial setting should refrain from growing a beard. It does mean that, if he has a beard, the beard determines where the client is when they first meet, and the client’s curiosity needs to be dealt with. Similarly, the rule does not mean that a female change agent in a male organization should try to act like one of the boys, or that a young person should try to act like an old person. One thing it does mean is that sometimes where the client is, is wondering where the change agent is.

Even unwitting or accidental violations of the empathy rule can destroy the situation. I lost a client through two violations in one morning. The client group spent a consulting day at my home. They arrived early in the morning, before I had my empathy one. The senior member, seeing a picture of my son in the living room, said: “What do you do about boys with long hair”. I replied thoughtlessly, “I think he’s handsome that way.” The small chasm thus created between my client and me was widened and deepened later that morning when one of the family tortoises walked through the butter dish.

Sometimes starting where the client is, which sounds both ethically and technically virtuous, can lead to some ethically puzzling situations. Robert Frost* describes a situation in which a consultant was so empathic with a king who was unfit to rule that the king discovered his own unfitness and had himself shot, whereupon the consultant became king.

Empathy permits the development of a mutual attachment between client and consultant. The resulting relationship may be one in which their creativities are joined, a mutual growth relationship. But it may also become one in which the client becomes dependent on the consultant, so that he can be manipulated by the consultant. The ethical issues are not associated with starting where the system is, but with where one takes it.

Are the use of complacency shock, pulling out the rug of familiar structure, and two-by-four confrontation of differences violations of this rule? Of course, but they do help to determine and to reveal where the client is, some- times at the cost of the relationship. They are often productive if the client is committed to the scene and the consultant.

This is a comprehensive rule, and a number of the other rules are corollaries or examples of it. It is an appeal for an organic rather than a mechanistic approach to change, for building strength and building on strength. It has a number of implications that affect the choices the change agent makes about how to use himself, and it says something about life itself. The following are some corollaries.

*Robert Frost, “How Hard It is To Keep From Being King When It’s In You And In The Situation”, from In The Clearing, pp. 74-84. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1962).


RULE III, Corollary 1: Don’t build hills as you go.

This corollary cautions against working in a way that builds resistance to movement in the direction you have chosen as desirable. For example, a program, which has a favorable effect on one portion of a population, may have the opposite effect on other portions of the population. Perhaps the commonest error of this kind has been made in the employment of T-group training in organizations — turning on the participants and turning off the non-participants in one easy lesson.

RULE 111, Corollary 2: Work in the most promising arena.

The physician-patient relationship is often regarded as analogous to the consultant-client relationship. The results for system change can be unfortunate. For example, the organization development consultant is likely to be greeted with delight by executives who see in his specialty the solution to a hopeless situation in an outlying plant. Some organization development consultants have disappeared for years because of the irresistibility of such challenges. Others have whiled away their time trying to counteract the Peter Principle by shoring up incompetent managers.

RULE III, Corollary 3: Don’t use one when two could do it.

To be less cryptic; don’t do anything alone that could be accomplished more

easily or more certainly by a team. Don Quixote is not the only change agent whose effectiveness was handicapped by ignoring this rule. The change agent’s task is an heroic one, and the need to be a hero does not facilitate team-building. As a result, many change agents become “spread too thin,” through failing to develop partners who can carryon the work and use the change agent’s skills efficiently.

RULE III, Corollary 4: Don’t over-organise

The background of democratic ideology and the theories of participative management that many change agents possess can sometimes interfere with common sense. A year or two ago I offered a course, to be taught by graduate students. The course was over-subscribed. It seemed that a rational process for deciding whom to admit would be desirable, and that participation of the graduate students in the decision would also be desirable.


So I demanded a good deal of data about themselves from the candidates for admission, and photocopied their responses. Then the graduate students and I held a series of meetings. Then the candidates were informed by letter of the decision. I suppose I spent ten days in this absurd process, and each of the graduate students wasted a day or two. In the end we concluded that a completely arbitrary decision rule –like first come, first served –would have given as good results with much less anguish for the candidates, the students and myself.

RULE III, Corollary 5: Don’t argue if you can’t win

Sometimes there is a hill in the path of change, which must be confronted. Thus one may begin working with people in the middle of a power structure because they are eager to learn and to move –working with them is not working uphill — but the undertaking will become a hill-building exercise unless there is a strategy for gaining the support of the top of the structure. If the strategy encounters opposition rather than interest, the change agent may consider a confrontation mode for achieving his purpose. Unless he has developed a constituency of support, which matches or exceeds the power that the opposition can muster, he should decide against confrontation.

RULE III, Corollary 6: Play God a little

The change agent’s life is his own, and it is as short as any other man’s. It is important to evaluate a given context, opportunity, or need: is it appropriate for your skills and learning needs and fulfilment? Is there as much potential for change in it as in competing opportunities? For example, the public educational system is a mess. That doesn’t mean we know how to save it, or even whether it should survive. It certainly doesn’t mean that the change agent is morally obligated to try to improve it, destroy it, or develop a substitute for it. If there is a moral obligation, it is to the development of his own talent and potential.


As implied above, little can be accomplished alone, and there is evidence from experiments on the effects of group pressure on individual perception to suggest that the change agent needs a partner, if only to maintain perspective and purpose.

The quality of the partner is just as important as the quality of the idea. Like the change agent, partners must be relatively autonomous people. As an example, the engineering staff of a chemical company designed a new process plant using edge-of-the-art technology. The design departed too radically from the experience of top management, and they were about to reject it. The engineering chief suggested that the design be reviewed by a distinguished chemical engineering professor. The principal designers were in fact former students of the professor. For this reason he accepted the assignment, charged the company a fee for reviewing the design {which he did not trouble to examine), and told the management the design was brilliantly conceived and executed. By this means the engineers not only implemented their innovations, but also grew in the esteem of their management.

A change agent experienced in the Washington environment reports that he knows of only one case of successful interdepartmental collaboration in mutually designing, funding and carrying through a joint project. It was accomplished through the informal collaboration of four bright young men, one from each of four agencies. They were friends, and met weekly for lunch. They conceived the project, and planned a strategy for implementing it. Each person undertook to interest and influence the relevant key people in his own agency, and the four served one another as consultants and helpers in developing ways of bringing his influence to bear in each agency.

An alternative statement of Rule IV is as follows: Find the people who are ready and able to work, introduce them to another, and work with them. Perhaps because many change agents have been trained in the helping professions, perhaps because we have all been trained to think bureaucratically, or mechanistically, concepts like organizational position, representativeness or need are likely to guide the change agent’s selection of those he works with. A more powerful beginning can be made by finding those persons in the system whose values are congruent with those of the change agent, who possess vitality and imagination, who are willing to work overtime, and who are eager to learn. Such people are usually glad to have someone like the change agent join in getting some- thing important accomplished, and a careful search is likely to turn up quite a few. In fact, there may be enough of them to accomplish general system change, if they can team up in appropriate ways. In building such teamwork the change agent’s abilities will be fully challenged, as he joins them in establishing conditions for trust and creativity, dealing with anxieties about being seen as subversive, enhancing leadership, consulting, problem-solving, diagnosing and innovating skills, and developing appropriate group norms and policies.

Certain norms and policies appear to be important for, even critical for, group effectiveness. The group should maintain its information or invisible status; it may have projects that eventuate in legitimised formal bodies, but it should not act as part of the power structure. Any undertaking of the group should be the property of one of its members, with others in support roles. In planning strategies that involve coordinated action on the part of several members, no member should be bound by the decisions emerging from consultation, but should adapt his behaviour according to what he finds in the action scene.


This sounds like counsel to avoid risk-taking. But the decision to experiment always entails risk. After that decision has been made, take all precautions.

The rule also sounds scientifically immoral. But whether an experiment produces the expected results depends upon the experimenter’s depth of insight into the conditions and processes involved. Of course, what is experimental is what is new to the system; it mayor may not be new to the change agent.

Build an umbrella over the experiment. A chemical process plant, which was to be shut down because of the inefficiency of its operations, undertook a union- management cooperation effort to improve efficiency, which involved a modified form of profit sharing. Such plans were contrary to company policy, but the manufacturing vice president at headquarters was interested in the experiment, and successfully concealed it from his associates. The experiment was successful: the plant became profitable. In this case, the umbrella turned out not to be big enough. The plant was shut down anyway.

Use the Hawthorne effect. Even inadequately conceived experiments are often made to succeed when the participants feel ownership. And conversely, one of the obstacles to the spread of useful innovations is that participants are not likely to feel ownership of them.

Build on strength; for example, if the change agent hopes to use laboratory training as part of his strategy, the first persons to be invited should be those who consistently turn all their experiences into constructive learning. Similarly, in introducing team development processes to a system, begin with the best-functioning team.

Maintain voluntarism. This is not easy to do in systems where invitations are understood to be commands, but nothing vital can be built on such motives as duty, obedience or responsiveness to social pressure.


Not only does a large, monolithic development or change program have high visibility and other qualities of a good target, it also tends to prevent subsystems from developing ownership of, and consequent commitment to the program.

The positive implication of the rule is more orderly than the random prescription –light many fires –suggests. Any part of a system is the way it is partly because of the way the rest of the system is. To work towards change in one subsystem is to become one more determinant of its performance. Not only is the change agent working uphill, but as soon as he turns his back, other forces in the system will press the subsystem back towards its previous level of performance.

If many interdependent subsystems are catalysed, and the change agent brings them together to facilitate one another’s efforts, the entire system begins to move.

Understanding patterns of interdependency among subsystems can lead to a strategy of fire setting. For example, in public school systems it requires collaboration among politicians, administrators, teachers, parents and students to bring about significant innovation, and active opposition on the part of only one of these groups to prevent it. In parochial school systems, on the other hand, collaboration between the administration and the church provides a powerful impetus for change in the other groups.


Our society grinds along with much polarization and cruelty, and even the helping professions compose their world of grim problems to be “worked through”. The change agent is usually flooded with the destructive aspects of the situations he enters. People in most systems are impressed with one another’s weaknesses, and stereotype each other with such incompetencies as they can discover.

This rule does not advise ignoring destructive forces. Its positive prescription is that the change agent be especially alert to the constructive forces which are often masked and suppressed in a problem oriented, envious culture.

People have as great an innate capacity for joy as for resentment, but resentment causes them to overlook opportunities for joy. In a workshop where a married couple were discussing their sexual problem and how hard they were working on it, it became clear that it would never be solved, simply because sex is not a problem but an opportunity.

Individuals and groups locked in destructive kinds of conflict focus on their differences. The change agent’s job is to help them discover and build on their commonalities. The unhappy partners focus on past wrongs, and continue to destroy the present and future with them. The change agent’s job is to help them change the present so that they will have a new past on which to create a future.


A good sense of timing is often treated as though it were a “gift” or “intuition”, rather than something that can be learned, something spontaneous rather than something planned. The opposite is nearer the truth. One captures the moment when everything one has learned is readily available, and when one is in touch with the events of the moment.

A few years ago my wife and I were having a very destructive fight. Our nine-year old daughter decided to intervene. She put her arms around her mother, and asked: “What does Daddy do that bugs you?” She was an attentive audience for the next few minutes while my wife told her, ending in tears. She then put her arms around me: “What does Mummy do that bugs you?” and Iistened attentively to my response, which also ended in tears. She then went to the record player, and put on a favourite love song (.” If Ever I Should Leave You”), and left us alone to make up.

The elements of my daughter’s intervention had all been learned. They were simply available to her, and she combined them in a way that could make the moment better.

Perhaps it’s our training in linear cause-and-effect thinking that makes us unable to see the multiple potential of the moment. Whatever the reason, the solution is not to enter the situation blank, and hope that spontaneous action will move it forward. It is not enough for the change agent to have a plan or strategy. He needs as many plans as possible. It’s not enough for him to have a framework for diagnosis; he needs many frameworks. It’s not enough to involve his head in the system; he has to let his heart be involved too. If he has full access to his organized experience, to himself, and to the situation, he is free to be spontaneous –and capture the moment.



Using these materials I am entirely happy for you to use or draw on any these materials in any way you think will be helpful. I am keen to have my work, and the work of the people I have learned from, used.  Please give a link back to or to This will help these positive ideas to spread.

Language The language on this site is correct UK English throughout. There are differences in spelling and meaning between UK and US English. The context should make the material understandable in the US.




Human Relations Research in Large Organizations, Journal of Social Issues, Volume VII, 1951.

May 8, 2010

Your link to the “upload” for this new post:

Human Relations Reseaarch, Floyd Mann, 1951


This special Edition of the recently “new” “Journal of Social Issues (Volume VII)” was devoted entirely to subjects about “Human Relations Research in Large Organizations.” There is included: a complete listing of Contents reflecting the “issues and authors” of that early period (1951) and mostly from the University of Michigan. One particularly useful article is also included, which is especially relevant to the field of Applied Behavioral Science (ABS). It is about “Changing Superior-Subordinate Relationships” by Floyd C. Mann.

Should CIOs Be Generalists or Specialists?

April 12, 2010

SHOULD CIOs (Chief Information Officers) BE GENERALISTS or SPECIALISTS ?

Article from , by Ann All (from her IT Bus.Edge. Blog, dated Mar 15, 2010)

I think there may be a new hot dialogue brewing around the CIO role, one along the lines of whether the actual CIO title needs to change to better reflect the role’s responsibilities or whether the CIO is the best person to lead process improvement initiatives.

Last week I asked University of Kentucky CIO Vince Kellen whether CIOs would remain generalists, leading business technology initiatives in different industries, or whether we’d start to see more specialization, with CIOs spending bigger chunks of their careers within specific verticals.

Before coming to the University of Kentucky, Kellen served as VP of Information Services for DePaul University. (He’s also a consultant with the Cutter Consortium.) His opinion:

“Once you’re a CIO in a vertical, it’s hard to leave that vertical. Your value to the vertical is very important, especially if you’re good at the business stuff. You know so much about your industry, you’ll be valuable to competitors, too. At the highest levels of executive leadership, you’ve got to be deeply concerned about your industry, the industry your company works in.”

The view was supported by IT Business Edge’s Mike Vizard during a presentation he gave this morning at the inaugural ITBE-sponsored Midmarket CIO Forum in Orlando. (Yes, I’m writing that up now instead of catching some sun on the pool deck.) Vizard told attendees:

“People think you can run IT at a fruit company and then run IT at a chemical company. I’d argue that’s insane. That’s why business people begin to see IT as a utility. When I talk to CIOs, many of them have more loyalty to IT than to the industry they are working in. I think you add more value if you become a specialist. That’s how you make IT integral to the business.”

During the Q&A session, one of the attendees said he addressed this issue by assuming leadership and responsibility for the overall IT function and appointing chief operating officers within IT to deal more directly with business-specific issues. Close communication with these internal COOs is important, he said.

Some other interesting thoughts from Vizard’s presentation:

IT executives need to begin assigning value to the data within their organizations instead of treating it all the same way in terms of where it’s stored and how it’s used. Too many IT departments manage data without understanding its importance, he said, which creates “one of the big disconnects between the business and IT.” About two months ago, I wrote about the need for IT departments to assume a stronger role in data governance. Last week Vizard wrote about  a new class of data governance tools that allow IT organizations to manage datawhile giving business users responsibility for actually delegating who has the right to access that information, offering Courion’s Access Assurance Suite 8.0. as one example.

Why does the business hate IT, Vizard asked. His answer: “You ask them to bend to the way your software works.” What the business really wants is for IT to be able to pull together core components to support their processes in three months or less instead of 18 months, he said. With virtualization, cloud computing and other emerging technologies, Vizard said pieces of an eventual strategy for doing this are beginning to come together. Like other observers, he envisions a hybrid model in which certain applications will move to the cloud while others remain on-premise. But even those that remain on-premise must become more modular, he said.

IT can’t win if it doesn’t start automating more processes, and that includes its own internal processes, Vizard said. “I can’t understand why IT is used to automate all sorts of processes except those in IT.” He acknowledged that internal politics and fear of losing IT jobs played a part but urged IT leaders not to let those concerns hold them back. “You need to determine how you can shift your staff to activities that add real value to the business,” he said.

Consumer technology is shaping folks’ view of internal IT, and that’s not a bad thing. He asked how many attendees supported engineers. When several hands went up, he said, “We all know they’re the biggest pain in the butt to support because they think they know more than you do.” That’s essentially what’s beginning to happen throughout organizations as users become more tech savvy, creating headaches for IT personnel worried about breaches of security and other issues. But, said Vizard, “I’d rather have somebody interested and dangerous than ignorant and useless.”

He offered Citibank as organization that’s come up with an interesting way to educate its business leaders about IT, by hosting an annual “IT Fair,” in which IT personnel demonstrate technologies for business folks. That helps create what Vizard called the “Tom Sawyer syndrome.” That is, “You show them the technology and get them to paint the fence.” He added, “Taking them out of their box and showing them different ways to approach things, using technology, is part of your job.”

A good CIO not only takes it upon himself to rearchitect business processes, he empowers his staff to do so as well, Vizard said. Instead of just thinking of themselves as support staff, IT pros should be encouraged to always look for opportunities for process improvement. A good way to start, he suggested, is by asking staff to help improve internal IT processes, then having them take those skills out to the broader business.


Note: These statements exemplify, and compare, “the conditions and situations”: 1) when OB/OD Academics, acting as “generalists” suggest “organizational process” resolutions, and 2)  when Business Management technical specialists and administrators performing as “operational specialists” are accountable for expenditures and actual results. (This comment added by, Blog owner, to clarify “purpose of placement” here).

Fighting Fragmentation

April 12, 2010

Integrated technology solutions are driving an AEC revolution.

By Richard Sappé*
(a CE NEWS article, April 2010 issue » Features » BUSINESS STRATEGIES)

CE = Civil Engineering
NRC = National Research Council (in article)
NRC = Nuclear Regulatory Commission (was AEC)
AEC = Atomic Energy Commission (now the NRC) AEC = Architecture, Engineering, & Construction
(Acronyms added by CBLG as the article is equally applicable to “either” AEC, or the NRC ).

Capital asset delivery projects and programs of all sizes and types continue to suffer from low productivity and high failure rates. The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry remains highly fragmented, and even with preferred vendor programs, each project features a new blend of players. This fragmentation hinders development of standardized processes for an integrated capital asset supply chain based on effective and efficient collaboration. Project risk avoidance, rather than maximizing the lifecycle value of a capital asset, remains the paradigm for the majority of the AEC industry. Many industry players adopt a hunker down approach — especially during a downturn — that further reduces efficiency and productivity on project delivery, and takes the focus off enhancing capital asset value.

In a 2009 report, “Advancing the Competitiveness and Efficiency of the U.S. Construction Industry,” the National Research Council of the National Academies (NRC) identified five interrelated activities for capital facilities and infrastructure that will help achieve the following:
• overcome fragmentation by requiring greater collaboration up front among project stakeholders;
• lead to more efficient use and better integration of people, processes, materials, and equipment through all phases of a construction project; and
• create more useful and accurate information for development of performance measures that can facilitate innovation in technologies and materials and improvement in products and processes.
The first activity the NRC recommends is “widespread deployment and use of interoperable technology applications.” Among numerous other identified benefits, interoperable technologies can help “through more collaborative processes and an emphasis on planning up front … improve the quality and speed of project-related decision making; integrate processes, supply chains, and work flow sequencing; improve data accuracy and reduce the time spent on data entry; and reduce design and engineering conflicts and the subsequent need for rework.”
A small but growing community of owners, contractors, and engineering/design firms have already adopted this principle and together have begun integrating project stakeholders, project processes, and project technology to improve project productivity and long-term capital asset value. These organizations are leading the charge in highly collaborative delivery methodologies such as Integrated Project Delivery and efficiency-maximizing Lean construction. And they are leading the way in adopting AEC-specific and highly collaborative technology solutions for Virtual Design and Construction and Integrated Program Management.
To eliminate silos of people, process, and information, these organizations focus on collaboration, standardization, and integration, and trade an antagonistic project delivery model of risk shedding for a collaborative project delivery model driven by project success metrics. A holistic application technology strategy plays a critical role in this, as technology should break down the silos of information and data, enable effective collaboration, provide specific AEC functionality across the full project lifecycle, and provide scalability from the project level to the enterprise level. Leading technology vendors embrace this approach and base their solution strategies on completeness of AEC functionality, scalability, and interoperability.
Complete AEC solution 
A key to successful project delivery is the earliest possible collaboration across stakeholders during project delivery. This requires that project stakeholders share information from their respective areas of expertise as completely and as early as possible. An AEC firm’s technology strategy must therefore take into account not only that firm’s specific functional requirements, but also the requirements of the entire project delivery lifecycle. The complete AEC solution environment extends across all aspects of the capital delivery lifecycle, including funding and budgeting, design, estimating and scheduling, resource management, construction management, procurement, and accounting. An AEC firm’s technology strategy must take into account this complete solution environment, even in those instances where that firm’s use of a particular technology is minimal.
Also, to maximize project productivity and capital asset value, it is important to clearly understand the potential impacts of project decisions before taking them. The key to achieving this is through early and continuous information sharing during pre-construction and construction, application-driven analysis of project forecasts, and continuous monitoring of project- and facility-performance metrics. It is therefore important to understand clearly which data from differing functional areas reside in which systems. Based on this understanding, firms should then identify which systems contribute to the collaboration requirements within and across organizations, and which integration approaches can best serve the needs of the project team as a whole.
Scalability — Full project collaboration requires getting the right information to the right people at the right time. In addition to considering the complete AEC solution environment, the scalability of AEC technology becomes critical. Deploying new technology and collaboration systems for each project simply does not scale, and it quickly becomes a costly and administrative headache.
Therefore, an organization’s technology strategy should aim to pursue scalable systems that can:
• grow from a project level to an enterprise level within the organization;
• readily integrate with the systems of a diverse array of outside stakeholders; and
• maintain cross-project and stakeholder data integrity and security.
Technologies that can scale across projects and organizations provide a means to greater transparency and efficiency. They also form the foundation for effective collaboration across stakeholders through data and access security and easier system administration.
Interoperability — Interoperability of application technology is key to supporting enhanced collaboration and productivity and eliminating the costs of double data entry and data errors. Ready interoperability between key AEC technologies provides for greater accuracy of information, streamlined internal processes, elimination of rework, and also a lower total cost of technology ownership for each firm.
To achieve interoperability, AEC technology strategies must look beyond file compatibility and import/export mechanisms. This approach is functionally limited, saps valuable time and resources, and does not meet the needs of highly collaborative projects. While document and file management and control will remain a key component of project delivery technology, interoperability shifts the focus toward data integration strategies to cut out import/export and file management steps.
Many AEC technology solutions today offer Application Programming Interfaces (API) that enable custom data integrations to and from other systems. While API-built integrations are dynamic in data exchange, they are very specific to the systems involved, and do not readily extend to systems beyond any one organization’s setup. As such, the cross organizational requirements of collaborative projects cannot readily be met by APIs alone.
Web services, or Web APIs, do provide a measure of flexibility by enabling integrations and access to remote systems — for instance, two Web-based applications hosted on disparate networks. However, as with API-driven integrations, Web-services-based integrations are also highly specific, and each project, or each new project team, faces the integration setup challenge anew.
Leading AEC technology vendors now offer out-of-the-box integrations between AEC solutions, including integrations to and from other vendors’ solutions. The benefits of out-of-the-box integrations are ease-of-use and implementation, greater applicability across project stakeholders, speed of implementation for new projects/systems, and a lower total cost of ownership, since the vendor maintains the integration rather than the user. The limitation of out-of-the-box integration is the scope of solutions a given vendor considers and for which it develops out-of-the-box integrations.
A current industry movement with great promise is standards-based interoperability. Several organizations — such as FIATECH ( and the National Institute of Building Sciences’ buildingSMART alliance ( — are working in close collaboration with AEC firms, owners, and technology vendors to develop and publish standards for interoperability specific to the capital asset lifecycle, including all facets of capital asset project delivery. Interoperability standards will provide a single means for any application to share and integrate relevant data across project phases and disciplines. As these standards are published and updated, continued standards support from leading technology vendors will drastically increase interoperability options.
AEC firms need to evaluate their technology strategies hand-in-hand with their processes and personnel across their enterprise. Technology strategies must include dimensions for scalability and interoperability; they can no longer be limited to specific project domain functionality — consider prior and subsequent project phases as well. A technology solution’s ability to provide project-phase specific functionality, enterprise scalability, as well as complete project lifecycle interoperability and collaboration, should increasingly drive implementation decisions.

*Richard Sappé is engineering and construction industry strategist for Oracle’s Primavera Project Portfolio Management group. For more information on integrated technology solutions, visit the Primavera Engineering and Construction Resource Center at .

Note: “Balancing Project Priorities” related to Organizational and Operational considerations is applicable when conducting Projects and Programs. (This comment added by, Blog owner, to clarify “purpose of placement” here).

Age effects on wisdom hold at every level of social class, education, and IQ

April 11, 2010

Grandma was right: With age comes wisdom, University of Michigan researchers find.

Posted: Apr 5, 2010 at 2:56 PM, Apr 5, 2010
WASHINGTON — It turns out grandma was right: Listen to your elders. New research indicates they are indeed wise — in knowing how to deal with conflicts and accepting life’s uncertainties and change.

It isn’t a question of how many facts someone knows, or being able to operate a TV remote, but rather how to handle disagreements — social wisdom.
And researchers led by Richard E. Nisbett of the University of Michigan found that older people were more likely than younger or middle-aged ones to recognize that values differ, to acknowledge uncertainties, to accept that things change over time and to acknowledge others’ points of view.
“Age effects on wisdom hold at every level of social class, education, and IQ,” they report in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In modern America, older people generally don’t have greater knowledge about computers and other technology, Nisbett acknowledged, “but our results do indicate that the elderly have some advantages for analysis of social problems.”
“I hope our results will encourage people to assume that older people may have something to contribute for thinking about social problems,” Nisbett said.
In one part of the study the researchers recruited 247 people in Michigan, divided into groups aged 25-to-40, 41-to-59 and 60 plus.
Participants were given fictitious reports about conflict between groups in a foreign country and asked what they thought the outcome would be.
For example, one of the reports said that because of the economic growth of Tajikistan, many people from Kyrgyzstan moved to that country. While Kyrgyz people tried to preserve their customs, Tajiks wanted them to assimilate fully and abandon their customs.
The responses were then rated by researchers who did not know which individual or age group a response came from. Ratings were based on things like searching for compromise, flexibility, taking others’ perspective and searching for conflict resolution.
About 200 of the participants joined in a second session, and a third section was conducted using 141 scholars, psychotherapists, clergy and consulting professionals.
The study concluded that economic status, education and IQ also were significantly related to increased wisdom, but they found that “academics were no wiser than nonacademics” with similar education levels.
While the researchers expected wisdom to increase with age they were surprised at how strong the results were for disputes in society, Nisbett said. “There is a very large advantage for older people over younger people for those.”
Lynn A. Hasher, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, called the study “the single best demonstration of a long-held view that wisdom increases with age.”
“What I think is most important about the paper is that it shows a major benefit that accrues with aging — rather than the mostly loss-based findings reported in psychology. As such, it provides a richer base of understanding of aging processes. It also suggests the critical importance of workplaces’ maintaining the opportunity for older employees to continue to contribute,” said Hasher, who was not part of the research team.
Lead author Nisbett, co-director of the University of Michigan’s Culture and Cognition Program, is 68 and his team of co-authors ranged in age from mid-20s to mid-50s.
The research was supported by the Russell Sage Foundation, National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation Grant.
AP science writer Randolph E. Schmid, now in his seventh decade, found this research far more compelling than he might have at age 20.

CBLegray’s, CBLG Associates, Blog- Intro

April 11, 2010

This WordPress Blog provides a DIGEST of selected “publicly available” statements and articles- which are especially aligned with, and pertinent to, resolving matters and issues when applying the professional practices discussed in My Linked Profile. In conjunction with my recent personal statements (see my BoxNet files, also), they are intended to facilitate a “gathering” of sufficient understanding which will promote “good faith efforts” towards adding value for progress and societal benefit.