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The Merino's Eye - How To Turn Knowledge Into Energy

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Version Française ICI: http://bit.ly/TOD-FR

English translation of my lateral thinking essay on Organizational Performance.
Feel free to share, print, disseminate and teach with credits:
"CC-BY-NC-SA Paul Merino, The Time Hunter @SEUILS".

This is a mental model for a "DNA of Effectiveness".

This model accounts for the 4 DNA nucleotides, and also for the 2 alternating residues forming the DNA backbone - totaling 6 generic elements which I call "Doorways".

What's interesting is that the 4 Doorways here associated with DNA nucleotides represent "Value", whilst the 2 others (here associated with DNA backbone) represent "Work".

I titled this 1997 essay after its central tool "The Merino's Eye" because this is how I formed my understanding of the dynamics of Time, but it is more neutrally subtitled "The Theory Of Doorways" (TOD).

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The Merino's Eye - How To Turn Knowledge Into Energy

  1. 1. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 1/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/the merinos eyeHow to turn Knowledgeinto Energyby Paul Merino, The Time Hunter@SEUILS
  2. 2. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 2/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/Original TitleThe Theory Of Doorways (TOD)Foreword"Sui generis."At the time this paper was written, I had no management education whatsoever.I was just emerging from years of struggle, only mitigated by an early careerlargely fueled by my everlasting self-learning thirst.I had no intention to actually write anything.But, my colleagues kept asking me: "How do you manage to keep knowledge flowing among us?""In spite of the many interruptions, fragmentations and silos which hinder our daily efforts?"In other words:"How could you look so ignorant, whilst being extremely effective at helping us?""And this, every time we found ourselves trapped into unexpected situations?"The Merinos EyeMeet the Merinos Eye, the model which holds entirely the Theory Of Doorways andallows for its practical daily use:fig. 1.1 – The Merinos Eye – Generic Analytical ToolIt is often observed that the most successful knowledge transfers are achieved bynever insisting about the nature of a given thing, but rather by introducing the keythoughts which eventually led to the mental picture that we want to pass on.It is from this mindset that I am inviting you to discover the Merinos Eye, based onthe 15 years of business observation and experiment which inspired it.It will be up to you to form your own opinion, and to make it breathe for you,depending on the various standpoints which will be yours in the future.
  3. 3. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 3/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The Fragmentation of the PossiblesThe structural fragmentationWhat it strikes when we watch people discussing in a company, is how much spacethe structure occupies during the evaluation of the possible answers to a givensituation:"We do not control this part, it belongs to the operations department tospecify how we must interface with their process.""We cannot deliver this order in lieu of them. Only our local branchpossess the necessary codes to release stock in this region.""If we unplug this machine, we put our worldwide network at risk ofbreakdown. We cannot replace it just like that.""Our sales management software does not allow us to operate this new typeof fee schedule."The operational fragmentationWhat equally strikes when we watch ourselves working, is the importance that thelack of a totally trivial piece of information can take:"I am waiting to find out how he set that up; I prefer to wait until shegets back [from vacation, sickness, trip], otherwise it will take me hoursto figure it out on my own.""Yes, the data are backed up every night, and he did show me how to restorethem. Now the stupid thing, I did not think to ask him how to read a tapethat is not from the night before. We are going to have to find aspecialist - and that wont be cheap yet again.""What is the part number of your original part? The catalog shows twomodels, one is 3 times as expensive as the other - and I very much doubtthat the cheaper one is compatible with your machine. The number is usuallyprinted on it. Isnt there anyone who can tell you? We need to know before4 oclock today or it wont get delivered before 1 month.""Blast. Ive wasted at least three hours today trying to get the power backin the room. I didnt know that it was hitched up to a neutral line. Wespent the whole afternoon testing the relays in the dropped ceiling. Itlooks like well be burning the midnight oil for nothing yet again."
  4. 4. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 4/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The time and the cohesionThese two types of daily occurrence stem from two major causes of corporatevulnerability:• the organizational form (structural vulnerability)• the operating mode (operational vulnerability)Both of these weaknesses combine to come together fragmenting the possibles of thecompany - that is, to threaten its life expectancy by exhausting its vital resources:• the Time• the CohesionTherefore, I now invite you to reconsider the main types of corporate structures -notwithstanding their legal, economic or organizational structure - from thissynthetical angle of "the possibles".
  5. 5. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 5/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The Organic CompaniesThe virtual companyIn the virtual company, every person is considered as being part of the company assoon as she subscribes to the companys objectives.In this context, the legal binding of this person to the company is of secondaryimportance.The virtual company is typically embodied by a core team of co-founders, whosemission is to centralize the cohesion of all contributions.Therefore we would no longer speak of a co-worker (seen as an employee, non-manager), but rather of a contributor (equally able to influence or lead actions thatare vital to the company).Concurrently, the contributor is almost always involved in a structured activity,which allows him to bring to the virtual company:• some peace of mind (being already hired at another position somewhere else)• a timely availability (at the margins of his primary calendar)• a strong dedication (based on a free and reasoned choice)For all these reasons the contributor will systematically seek excellence when itcomes to:• speed of action (act well within the limited time set for a meeting)• speed of understanding (understand well within the limited time spent withmembers)Communities of interest have always formed themselves on this basis, as do the"foetups" - those placental startups that favor development over growth.
  6. 6. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 6/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The intermittent companyIn the intermittent company, right from the start the activity is seen as the seasonalrepetition of a well-mastered cycle (for example, symposiums and professionalexhibitions).The duration of the so-called "edition cycle" is known ahead of time and thus can beplanned in detail (for example, over a one or two-year span).Unlike other types, the intermittent company has only one chance to get it right (evena startup can hope to be granted the opportunity to agonize before actually dying).Because of the financial stakes, only a few professional event organizers havesurvived the failure of even one single edition.This is why it is critical for the intermittent company to industralize its processes andthat, as soon as they are in place.From one edition to the next, all efforts will then be focused toward the optimizationof this cycle.Mechanically speaking:• to optimize yield (marketing of the exhibition booths, tickets and business contactlist of the previous edition)• to increase reliability (looking at implementing the most proven methods,techniques and processes)Practically speaking:• to accelerate cohesion (the many contributing partners have at best 48 hours ofsetup time available to learn how to work together...)• to foster duplication (whatever can be reused will systematically be made genericand perennial, the remaining will be classified as "volatile" and disposable at anygiven time without impacting in any way the companys survival or operations)On the field, the intermittent company embraces its partners and interact with themin a "no-frills" fashion, regardless of their degree of legal integration (space lessor,service provider, contractor, supplier, public utilities...).From this standpoint, the intermittent company truly is a special type of virtualcompany.
  7. 7. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 7/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The Mineral CompaniesThe structural companyIn the structural company all activities are carried out in relation to the structure ofthe company - as reflected in its organization chart.Every change in the organization:• hierarchical, matrixed, project-driven...• arrival and departure of staffEvery evolution in the activities:• trade, market, volume...• development, production and end-of-life of products and servicesImpact the heart of the company in both ventricles:• the management system• the information systemBecause these modifications are essentially of a gradual nature, the changes that aregoing to be brought to the heart of the structural company will inevitably beincremental.Yet in a well-established structure, every change leads to a crack - even a small one.Little by little, this multiplicity of modifications is then going to:• fragment its knowledge• limit its scope of actionStrategically speaking:• we lose the visibility of the overall plan• the initial blueprint gets buried beneath layers of evolutionary strataOperationally speaking:• we get bogged down by the current state of affairs, since we cannot aligneverything at once• as it may break the entire structure• and anyway, not all changes have necessarily been documented, or their initiatorshave left• in any case the background gets lost
  8. 8. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 8/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/By nature, the structural company is vulnerable in the long run, because it is doomedto lose its intellectual capital, that is to say:• to see the depth of its internal knowledge diminish, and so its self-mastery• to see its freedom of action lessen, hence its mobilityDependent of a business logic buried beneath a drift of historical choices, thestructural company is destined to reincarnate itself through a takeover, a buyout or amerger:• by valuing its marketing seniority• while forgetting most of its know-how in the transition, thoughThe extended or networked companyIn the extended company, any external organization is viewed as an integral part ofthe companys ecosystem as soon as it enters into a business relationship.The extended company will therefore seek to integrate its natural economic partners(customer, supplier, public administration, trade association).For this reason it will seek to standardize the structures of the various partners inorder to register gain in terms of:• speed of revenue streams (orders, payments, logistics, management)• speed of channels (sales, positioning, delivery, advertising)In this respect, the role of the extended company is simply to bind together otherwisededicated, structural companies to form a new, shared structure which reflects thecurrent state of the market.
  9. 9. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 9/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The startupThe startup is a hybrid between the structural company and the extended company-and not, as one might think, a hybrid between the virtual and the intermittentcompany.Contrary to the virtual company, the startup will seek to bind itself into a structure assoon as possible:• into one of its own• into that of a "structural company" partner• into that of a buyerContrary to the intermittent company, the startup will delay As Next As Possible(ANAP) the streamlining of its processes:• recruitement• design and development• manufacturing• sales and customer supportHowever the startup will immediately seek growth, respectability and other externalindicators of wealth:• partnerships with large accounts• brand policy• financial valuationContrary to the structural company, the startup is desperately short of time but inreturn, the concentration of its premises assures it - willy-nilly - a semblance ofcohesion.
  10. 10. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 10/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The Nano-ManagementThe nano-pollutionHowever, we will find the same symptoms of operational fragmentation everywhere.Remember, that "trivial" information - at least apparently...And this, regardless of the ambient company pattern – organic, or mineral.Thus, there is obviously a factor, common to all forms of activity, whose qualityescapes all control and this, in spite of the enforced procedures and tools - no matterhow sophisticated they are.This common denominator, it is the Human being.And more precisely, it is the way we are going to steer - at the individual level - awhole range of discrete choices, on a daily basis and for the company.Considered in isolation, each of these choices is of so small a weight that it defies anyconsolidation, the organizational studies as well as the management audits.Most of the time, we are not even consciously aware of them, because from a projectlevel standpoint for instance, they are located well below the level of tasks - almost atthe level of the gestures of execution.Yet, the entire operational fragmentation is directly related to the way each one willcome to operate these discrete choices of the company.In fact, these discrete choices may penalize or on the contrary substantially improvethe ergonomics of each and every knowledge and of each and every action of thecompany.The nano-ecologyJust as we must know in order to act, we must act in order to know.Between knowledge and action in truth there is no border.So, as soon as you know, you have the key to action and vice versa.It is this admission ticket - this "license to achieve" - that we call here a "doorway".It is here and at this level that the Theory Of Doorways intervenes and offers to cometo guide these discrete choices, by providing a simple enough model – the Merino’sEye – so that everyone can assimilate it at a reflex level and practice it instinctively.
  11. 11. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 11/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The Merino’s EyeThe atom of the possiblesFrom a generic point of view, we can say that any company has internal goals andexternal goals:fig. 1.2 – The Merino’s Eye – Internal vs. ExternalThe internal goalsThe internal goals consist of acquiring means and taking care of them:fig. 1.3 – The Merino’s Eye – Earn and Care
  12. 12. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 12/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The external goalsThe external goals consist of showing its realizations and delivering them:fig. 1.4 – The Merino’s Eye – Show and GiveThe midfield magmaAnd in order to reach these shores, in either direction we must cross this midfield"magma", which consists of knowing and acting:fig. 1.5 – The Merino’s Eye – Know and ActAll these steps are marking up down to the execution of our most mundane tasks,throughout what might be called our "trivial path".
  13. 13. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 13/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The unified performanceIndeed, these steps are found in each and every task we do, without even anymorethinking about it:fig. 1.6 – The Merino’s Eye – The Atom of the PossiblesIf we accept that Knowing and Acting are only passageways, which must lead us tothe doorways of our means and of our realizations, logically we must seek to limitthis crossing time to the bare minimum.Once reaching the desired bank, we can then get down as quickly as possible to thenext task.In sum, we can consider that the purpose of work is to craft doorways, for thatultimately we can overcome them.Yet, nearly 75% doorways that we produce have already been developed elsewherein the company (source Korn/Ferry International, Davos 2000).In practice this means that we spend 50-80% of our working time, stagnating on thisburning magma of Knowledge and Action, in pursuit of doorways which we areunaware of.We can therefore reasonably infer that the operational performance of the companyis directly function of the quality of the doorways it produces.
  14. 14. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 14/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The Space of the PossiblesThe physical spaceWe are accustomed in everyday life to move in a physical space, according to threeaxes X Y Z :fig. 1.7 – The Physical Grasp – X Y ZThe physical axesIn this physical space we are drifting along six directions up and down [Z], left toright [X] and back and forth [Y] :fig. 1.8 – The Physical Grasp – Top:Down, Left:Right and Front:Back
  15. 15. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 15/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The Quality of DoorwaysThe neglected futureJust as we can hardly tolerate to be hindered in our movements, so it is disagreeableto see our work blocked or slowed down for reasons that, obviously, could have beenavoided.This kind of circumstance is all the more painful that it is expensive:• in personal time ("I will not be back home until at least 19:00/7PM.")• in time for those who depend on us ("And the others who are twiddling theirthumbs, waiting...")• in nerve impulse ("This starts getting on my nerves...")• in continuity of reflection ("I lost my train of thought, I do not rememberwhere I was...")• in relational atmosphere ("Hi-how-is-it-no-Ive-got-no-time-see-you-later-on-maybe.")It is precisely by methodically observing the characteristics of the doorways involvedin countless incidents of this kind, that the idea emerged to analyze the possiblesaccording to a model inspired by our physical space.Let us see now what may well be those universal and permanent "meanings" whichdetermine the quality of a doorway.The trilogy of doorwaysIf we want that everyones doorways are to be nowadays within the reach of all –today and tomorrow – and in a minimum effort, we must adopt this trilogy:• after having agreed to EXPRESS them (which is a matter of capitalization ofknowledge and an intellectual capital issue)• and before even thinking about to EXCHANGE them (which is a matter of knowledgedissemination and a security issue, that is to say, of trust)• we must, said I, EXPOSE them (which is a matter of knowledge sharing and as willbe understood, a productivity issue - both individual and collective)
  16. 16. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 16/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/The snowflakefig. 1.9 – The Snowflake - EXPOSUREWriting vs. Design – Physical support vs. Vector – Availability vs. SecurityEach branch of the SNOWFLAKE corresponds to a particular exposure scale:w writing the degree of writingp physical support the nature of the physical supporta availability the degree of availabilityd design the level of ergonomicss security the adequacy of the access pathv vector the means of diffusionHere is a sample of the worst that can happen to a doorway:w I am poorly drafted I have no sensep I am scribbled on a greasy paper which endured the washing machinea I am at the bottom of a safe of which the key is lost moreover, we have lost the safed I am hastily scribbled even my author would give up reading mes I am guarded by a poorly adjusted system you are the boss and it mistakes you for a thiefv in view of my condition one should dictate me and send me by telegram
  17. 17. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 17/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/Here is now a sample of the best that can happen to a doorway:w I provide all steps required for immediate understanding I am used effortlesslyp I am in digital format I am updated without having to pulp stocks of obsoleteprinted mattera just think of me and I am displayed if I am destroyed I instantly regenerate myselfd I am laid out according to the rules of speed reading it is a pleasure to browse mes you are an outsider of the company but I know that youare here to help us win the Whatsit projectso you have access to our ultra-sensitive financialproposal chartsv just click to print me, receive me by email, on your smartdevice, by text and on the company’s extranetI can go anywhereOne can easily as can be seen assign a score to each of these directions, according to ageneric scale.The SNOWFLAKE is so called because in fact, each of the segments is scaled in turn bymeans of a suitable Doorways Matrix.Ultimately, the quality of a doorway is therefore measured in terms of its degrees ofexposure.
  18. 18. © Copyright 1997-2013 Paul Merino - This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License - 18/18http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/ConclusionCallThis introduction was aimed at helping you take quickly advantage of the Theory OfDoorways (TOD) in your company:• individually• within your team /service• and globally as an organizationShould this be the case, here are the semaphores I invite you to follow:• decrease the number of doorways required to materialize any result• increase the individual quality of the doorways produced within the companyI also invite you to follow the forthcoming developments: http://seuils.orgReferencesJoseph J. Katzman"What Are YOU A Gateway To?"Welcome To My Web Site!, Toronto 1996, Canada.• A strategist? A technologist? A communicator? Strong marketing bent?• Yes – coupled with a strong practical streak and deep understanding of thedynamics and operations of networked business.http://www.pathcom.com/~kat/Korn/Ferry International"Strategies for the Knowledge Economy: From Rhetoric to Reality"World Economic Forum’s Summit, Davos 2000, Switzerland.• Korn/Ferry has developed this landmark study in partnership with the Universityof Southern California’s Center for Effective Organizations at the Marshall Schoolof Business—on how to build effective knowledge organizations and motivateknowledge workers.• Presented at the World Economic Forum’s Summit in Davos, Switzerland, 2000,this thought-provoking study cuts through the existing rhetoric to identify whatleaders can do to turn knowledge into a competitive advantage for theorganization.• Based on a survey of over 4,500 knowledge workers and on interviews and focusgroups with more than 500 business and technical leaders, the study shares casestudies and best practices gathered from technology-intensive companies across avariety of sectors around the world.http://www.kornferry.com/focus/pubs_knowledge_economy.asp

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