People Oriented Automation

from Loosely Coupled Blog

One of the reasons why businesses want more agile IT is that today’s flatter management structures depend on giving greater autonomy to individual managers and workers. The trouble with traditional enterprise software is that it’s rooted in an organizational model that assumes a large bureaucracy shuffling documents around according to preset procedures. Whereas 21st-century business is carried out by delegating decision-making responsibility as far down the reporting line as possible. This doesn’t have to imply loss of management oversight, provided there’s a way of tracking and monitoring what’s actually happening at the end of the line (in truth, this is a far more realistic position than the command-and-control model anyway, which in spite of whatever the procedures manual actually prescribed, was always liable to subversion by individual acts of initiative, incompetence or rebellion.)


One thought on “People Oriented Automation”

  1. A couple of thoughts here.
    One is to put on my devil’s horns and ask whether the flatter and loosely coupled organizational structure is a 21st-century model or actually a late-20th-century model which peaked when the bottom fell out of the tech boom.
    Another is to suggest that there’s a tension between the techie-utopian dream of the enterprise as a frictionless anarchy of ad hoc initiatives, and the techie-utopian dream of endless automated agents chattering away at each other just below the level of human awareness. While some would say the latter could free humans to realize the former, in fact decentralizing all that business logic in a zillion agents controlled by a zillion semi-autonomous employees may make it harder, not easier, to turn the battleship when the need arises. Managing employees in a free-form organization has been likened to herding cats; herding cats’ *agents* is hardly what I would call a model for agility.
    But of course it’s easy to speak of such generalities. I might believe any of these propositions or its opposite when tied to a specific example in a specific context.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *