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The Principle of Incompatibility Published: Sunday, March 29, 2009 By: The Principle of Incompatibility

 The great mathematician A.L. Zadeh (A Meaning Representation Language.  Berkeley college of Engineering, University of California), has developed computer algorithms to handle fuzzy concepts.  He suggests that no system as complex as a human being can be dealt with traditional quantitative analytic techniques. The basis for his argument is what he labels the “principle of incompability”.  The principle states that as a system complexity increases, our ability to make absolute, precise and significant statements about the system’s behavior diminishes until a threshold, fuzzily defined, is reached. Beyond that threshold precision and significance are mutually exclusive.  For this reason precise quantitative analysis about human system have prudent and reserve relevance for solving important societal problems: high complexity in incompatible with absolute precision.  Management is always a venture of reducing or compressing complex realities.  

The full implication of this principle is not realized until a corollary principle is managed: THE CLOSER ONE LOOKS AT A REAL WORLD PROBLEM, THE FUZZIER ITS SOLUTIONS.

In the broadest sense organizations are collections of people who exhibit, through some organizational process (culture) a degree of belongingness, and are arranged insome fashion (design and structure) to do specific and concrete things. 

One process that leads to belongingness and commitment is organizational socialization.  Additional constraints are added in order to 1) increase definitional precision and 2) address  questions related to organizational process.  For an entity to be an organization there is the requirement that some form of sustained communication occurs among members, the notion being that without communication (preferably face to face) there can be no SOCIAL ORGANIZATION.  Other requirements are authority and power differences (preferably based on knowledge and expertise), division of labor, role clarification, some degree of formalization (still recognizing the dynamics between the formal and informal organization), horizontal and vertical arrangements of members, coordination and integration of members (management and meetings), centralization-decentralization (decision-making), goals and objectives (execution-direction-results) and size (degree of flexibility and agility).

Since, we can specify rather than clearly state the meaning of organizations, searching for boundaries is somewhat for vittles.  One problem in trying to specify boundaries is that they are frequently implicitly defined in accordance with the assumptions of the scope, degree or challenge of the task.

Our argument is that when we address terms and concepts as organizations, leadership, teams, coaching, mentorship or even mental health we have to acknowledge that we are working with fuzzy logic realities.  Here TIME plays on important but rarely explicated role in our generations of theories and approaches.

How organizations are distinguished form groups or team? The most obvious expression is that many organizations can be disaggregated into groups or sub-teams, where as it is not possible to disaggregated groups or sub-teams into organizations.

Another interesting point, but still within the domain of fuzzy logic, is that social structures show regularities that can be studied apart from the people in them.  The problem here is that AN INCOMPLETE PICTURE OF AN ORGANIZATION IS OBTAINED WHEN THE PARTICULAR PROFILE OF EACH INDIVIDUAL MEMBER IS IGNORE. 

For the sake of analysis one can always play with the proposition that design or structure can induce patterns of behavior and performance, suffice we acknowledge the contingency theory advice that THERE IS NEVER A SINGLE BEST DESIGN, BUT TO THE CONTRARY THERE ARE ALWAYS VARIOUS, NOT TO SAY MANY.  

Finally to add fuzziness to the venture of studying reality there is always the ENVIRONMENT OR THE MAKET (everything outside the organization).  Here we share a beautiful organizational design proposition:  Behavior and performance is always at the mercy of every possible disequilibrating factor, since it is always dependent on an environment which has no fixed limits and is constantly fluctuating.

Many years ago,we developed this organizational design or management equation that makes explicit that response (behaviors) should be thought about as a function of the organization making them and of the environment (markets) of that organization.

R = f (O, E, O x E)

R represents the array of responses, O a set of attributes of the responding organization, and E a set of characteristics of the environment.

We have taught in many organizational settings that behavior (B) is a function of a person (P) and his or her environment (E). 

Our very dynamic approach is about relating by way of a design people, groups and teams, organizations, environments or markets (local and global), responses, tasks, processes, execution and results.  After many years, we confess that the work has been a lot of constructive fun.


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