Building a ValueWeb
With a ValueWeb
I consider this story to be one of the most important on my web site as it documents a seminal experience in my life which continues to have wide ranging implications to the work of MG Taylor and to human economics in general.
This story is about how human organizational structures and work processes effect the time to build something and its ultimate cost.
One would reasonably think that this is a broadly understood subject and that human attention and markets had long achieved efficiency and quality in the making of things. Sadly, this is not so.
Hidden structures overwhelm the areas where low costs and high quality are achieved in ways the squander the gains made. What is interesting is that few people even want to explore these structures and change them even when the benefits are clearly demonstrated.
This story is about building and architecture yet many of the wider implications will also be pointed out. This story is told in five parts: Background, The Model, MG Taylor’s Work, The Method, and Broader Implications.
Parts One and Two were first written in March 2001. Parts Three, Four and Five in February 2009. At this time, the entire document was rearranged and edited.
As lengthily as this story is, it remains a mere outline. The many links to other articles help fill in the missing pieces. The experience which this story reports was my first attempt to build a ValueWeb which was capable of results not considered possible at the time. This was a remarkable success and in the end it succumbed to the seamier kind of business ethics which now grace our media on a nightly basis. This story offers proof - and a method of organizing and working - that says the present economic news is not an accident, does not have to be what it is, and is far from the last word in human enterprise.
February 18, 2009
doscuments documents the only (in my terms) successful organizational
structure I have ever been a part of. And, it was
only a partial success. The story goes back to a
seven year period, 1964 to 1971, where I was able
to work with a single industry and set of companies
through the entire process cycle of R&D, product
development, design, sales, production, service
and maintenance. This scope was more than what today
would be called a supply chain and less than what
I would call a full, mature ValueWeb architecture.
Looking back on over 52 years of work (as of 2009), it shocks me to write
the only successful organizational structure...
I thought a great deal about the word only.
I decided to use it because it at least establishes
a marker - a minimum standard. There were several
organizations I worked with that were very well
run and fun to be with. Tishman Construction, in New York City, principle among
them. I will argue, of course, that this was accomplished
despite their structure and for a limited period
of time also. The swimming pool era lasted only
a short period before it lapsed back into convention
- but then, it was not a true ValueWeb and that
also is part of what is to be learned.
sometimes think that I was born with a hypersensitivity
to organizational structure. This comes, I suppose,
from being an innovator who has never been satisfied
with all the explanation why doing things better
is impossible. As I dug into these
explanations, I discovered that virtually all
of them had to do
with organization and with the claim that profit
would be sacrificed by the new idea. I found this
not to be true. In many cases just the opposite.
Innovation can be made to pay for itself and if
it is done right nearly always will. No, organizations
take on a life of their own. They are not neutral
environments. This is good news - and bad depending
on the character of what is made. My insight was
to realize that organizations are DESIGNED
like everything else. They are human artifacts.
It seems to me that most think of them as facts
of nature - immutable. I discovered that
ALL organizational concepts are variations
on the same theme. There are not competing models
of organization out there - there are competing
versions of the same model. I was happy
to discover in 1961 and again
in the mid 70s that the traditional organizational
structure was not able to deal with the growing
complexities of modern life. The old way was going
to die. Since then, I have devoted a great deal
of my effort to discovering and designing alternatives.
I have also spent the greater amount of my time
helping traditional organizations stay alive. It
will not do to have them die before there is a
alternative. This would be bad engineering and
very bad business. All this lead to the MG Taylor
and a 25 year effort to get to what I now consider
the beginning phase of a genuine alternative
to traditional organizational architecture. In
the mean time, I discovered many other fellow traveler:.
Channon, Arbib, Boulding, Brand, Miller, Minski,
Bateson, Kauffman, Kelly...Their work in cybernetic,
systems theory and chaos theory has established
a powerful base. My work has been to put these
kinds of ideas
to work. Unfortunately, this work is just
beginning to be part of the business mainstream
and is still approached in a mostly metaphorical
(non structural) way.
How is you business like a rain forest?
Insightful, useful - but not enough. I have worked
to learn how to engineer organizational
structures as one would any other technical system.
This act is to INSTALL
an OS. We in the MG Taylor (proto) ValueWeb have
had some success in doing this. Enough to have
unique stories to tell - like the one that follows.
Enough to know that there is definitely something
to this and enough to have a health respect for
the persistence of the old way and its power to
compromise and reabsorb attempts to transform it.
Our present step is to build a true ValueWeb at
significant scale. This will be assembled, “bottoms
up” from a number of project-focused ValueWebs
that will find their own natural path to creating
a greater system. In period 2002 to mid 2004, there
emerged several projects as candidates for doing
this. Success with these will constitute a great
we have our own (MG Taylor) experiment and our
past project experiences from which we can extract
necessary for building every more powerful and
the mid 80s, I created the Business
of Enterprise model to codify this experience.
I first called this model the Business
because of the question I asked: what is
the business of business? This may
seem like a simple question. At the time, the
usually would be to make money. This
is confusing cause with effect. My answer was
the business of a business was to function like
the commissioner of Baseball that builds a network
of individuals and enterprises focused around a
certain set of objectives - a defined game.
Later, I realized that this pertained to enterprises
of all kinds including governments.
photo of Acacia presentation)
model is also closely related to the NASA
story which describes how NASA functioned as
a (partial) ValueWeb
enterprise when going to the moon.
the last 30 years, I have re-tested and applied
pieces of this organizational schema, the
F-15 and AEDC projects being the most notable examples
in terms of economic results. However, I have not
yet been able to get the whole
system in place, other
than for these isolated projects for a period
of time, as an OS for
the day-to-day operations of an entire enterprise
or culture of significant scale. The swimming pool
experience was itself incomplete, in this regard,
and functioned in isolation and only for a period
Withinn its own model of enterprise as defined
at the time, however, its scope was across an
and it functioned at sufficient depth and integrity
to show that a remarkable organizational transformation
is possible that that this results in both human
and economic brilliance. It is possible, now, to
implement the The method and ValueWeb concept at
a sufficient scale to make a critical mass that
it will not be locally
existing organizational mode that makes up our
This is possible because the tools of practical
networking (Internet, blog, wiki, KM method,
financial sophistication) are now sufficiently
developed so that isolated renegade (in the
of the establishment)
be connected in such a way - and across the boundaries
of any discrete single organization - so as to
form this critical mass. The projects now underway
2004) and the over 30 Taylor-like Centers that
exist globally make up the bare minimum nucleolus
of this nascent ValueWeb.
the first time (post 9/11, actually), I feel
these evolutionary forces pushing the
MG Taylor Enterprise in the direction we have
always wanted to go. This is an idea whose
time has come to
quote Mr. Nixon in a somewhat different context.
can be said for several of our clients. The default
model of organization, so long the ruling paradigm,
is finally coming under direct fire. It is, in
fact, rapidly crumbling
under the pressure of todays markets. I long
said (from 1975
onward) that no one gets out of the 20th
Century alive doing what they are doing now”
- This includes MG Taylor. The destruction of
the old organizational
model - and economic
model - is a factor of the environment (Rate
of Change and Complexity Model [link]) not our
wishes. The paradox is that MG Taylor has had
in the old organizational world while building
a bridge to the new one. An uncomfortable and
often dangerous place to be. We have fallen victim
to these circumstances more than once.
|Why didnt MG Taylor
become a full ValueWeb organization functioning
by the swimming pool rules
answer is simple. It can be answered by asking
another question: why
dont our environments function with the
technology as illustrated on the cover of our
Plan? It is the difference between THERE
and HERE. You can never get too far ahead
of your own culture while remaining a fully integrated
member of it. MG Taylor is not some kind of Utopian
dream. It is not organized to function in semi-protection
as can be provided in a research organization or
university. MGTaylor is a business. This
was a deliberate choice. A where the tire
hits the road decision. The mission of
MGTaylor is ubiquity of a new way of working.
of success is to do this as a for-profit company
(in a ValueWeb) that delivers the GOODS,
makes money and creates shareholder VALUE.
This completes the entire Stages of
an Enterprise Model. As such, MGTaylor
and the core Business Units have been limited
by market as they have pushed
the market. Of Course, as a true ValueWeb process
emerges, market and ENTERPRISE become
the same thing. This is a true answer but
only a partial
one. There is another. The other answer is that
we did not know how to build MG Taylor
as a ValueWeb
from the beginning. We have tried several times
to make it have more value-web-ness and
has been met with limited success. We were fairly
successful with the Producer Network
part of our Web, have had now and then success
Client/Customer Network members and
almost total failure with the (would be) Investor
Network members. 2002, saw the beginning
resolution of the conflicting models of what
makes a traditional investment and a ValueWeb
proven to be one of our most difficult tasks
should be understood that a ValueWeb has several
levels of recursion in its structure. Conventional
organizations (on one level of recursion) can be
successful members of a ValueWeb structure. VISA
is an example of this. The company VISA was
structured and managed in a conventional way. The
network of alliances VISA was a ValueWeb-like
Enterprise and thus an example of a chortic organization
(on THAT level of recursion).
is also true that a conventional organization can
(and will often) have ValueWeb structure-processes
at levels of recursion within it. Startup
and joint ventures within a large mature enterprise
can be done this way. A (protected) NavCenter is
another example. This is a way to start the conversion
partial ValueWeb structures can be effective
(but perhapts not permenant). The Model
suggests that a full ValueWeb architecture
operating (at minimum) on three levels of recursion
- made up of a critical mass of nodes that run the
ValueWeb OS - will out perform conventional structures
by orders of magnitude. They will require PatchWorks-like
processes to stay in tune and to optimise their
piece is organized into four sections: (1) the STORY
itself which captures the experience. (2) Comments
on the Model, itself, which has never before
been put down in sufficient detail. (3) Application
to the MG Taylor enterprise Business Units which
are going through what I believe to be the first
real step to a true ValueWeb architecture.
(4) Application to other environments and projects.
as DesignShop events have been our LAB for
developing the process and understanding the algorithms
for the Patent, our own business (and becoming
ValueWeb network) is a LAB for understanding
and demonstrating a new organizational theory. Our
own organizational experience is what we know the
most about - through direct experience. We also
have the knowledge gained by working with hundreds
of organizations and thousands of people over the
last quarter of a Century. Not all these partner
and client organizations were explicitly building
ValueWebs. They all DID, however, employ
some facet of our philosophy, methods and tools.
This work, plus our own developing theory and the
theory developed by others (usually, in unrelated
fields) has been integrated and forms the basis
for our system and method.
March 8, 2001
voice of this document:
INSIGHT POLICY PROGRAM
click on graphic for explanation of SolutionBox
March 8, 2001
February 18, 2002
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Matt Taylor 2001, 2002, 2009