Author Archives: Kevin
Release of Stanford Prison Experiment: The Musical
This past week (August 15-20) marks the 50th anniversary of the landmark Stanford Prison Experiment. In recognition of that anniversary, I have released my musical retelling and interpretation of its events, on which I had been working as a private project for several years.
Stanford Prison Experiment: The Musical is the core of a libretto for a mini-musical, with new lyrics that I wrote to music from popular songs that would have been broadcast over radio during the actual events of the Stanford Prison Experiment. [more]
When is a good time?
If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging…“First Law of Holes”
The questionable wisdom of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” becomes even more suspect when we realize how easily the brokenness, inefficiency, or insufficiency of something can be overlooked or ignored. [more]
Is there a size-restriction for organizational improvement?
“You must be at least this tall to ride this ride!” Remember those signs at carnival rides — and the denial, anger, bargaining, and depression that they evoked from children who felt left out because they didn’t quite measure up?
Many people talk as if similar signage guards the entrance to organizational improvement. [more]
The endless cycle of fire-fighting
How many organizations spend a disproportionate amount of time in “putting out fires” of one sort or another? They always seem to be fighting off some looming disaster from a dauntingly difficult task with insufficient resources (time, money, information) and with dire consequences for failure. A frequent byproduct of continuous fire-fighting is the “tyranny of the urgent”: a near-panic-driven focus on addressing the near term — often with counterproductive consequences in the long term. [more]
What is “Organizational Engineering”?
In some systems-engineering circles, there is a sub-discipline that is labeled as “Enterprise Systems Engineering.” The reasoning is straightforward: an enterprise (company, business, organization) is a sociotechnical system of people, process, and technology. As noted in an earlier posting, we should design, implement, and operate such systems with great care and intentionality, if we are to maximize their desired emergent characteristics and behaviors while minimizing their undesired ones. [more]
Understanding organizations as systems
I genuinely appreciate the ongoing, vital work of the many individual disciplines that grapple with understanding and improving organizations: Organization Design, Organizational Psychology, Management Engineering, Process Improvement, Quality Engineering, Quality Management, Quality Improvement, Change Management, Project Planning, Project Management, and countless others.
Nonetheless, just reading through that list can bring to mind the parable of “The Blind Men and the Elephant”; each discipline does an excellent job, but on a part, not on the whole. [more]
Welcome, and thanks for passing through
Each of us is on our own individual journey through life. At every stop along the way, we have the opportunity to learn something new — and, if we’re fortunate, to leave people, places, and/or things a little better for our having been there. [more]