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  • The Map is Not the Territory

    Posted by David Foster on September 3rd, 2015 (All posts by )

    I was reminded of this old saying, from  Alfred Korzybski, by an article about an LNG plant in Qatar and the ships that serve it…in particular, the following passage:

    Miroslav Ahmetovic, the chief officer, spends much of his workday in a room below the bridge monitoring the L.N.G. cargo on screens that display indicators like pressure and volume. Every few hours he dons hard hat, gloves, goggles and protective clothing and goes out on the sweltering deck to see that nothing is amiss.

    “I want to make sure my video game conforms to reality,” Mr. Ahmetovic said…

    Very well put, Mr Ahmetovic.  And in an era of obsession with “big data” and “analytics” systems, the users of these systems in organizations of all types would do well to remember that the output of such systems…whether presented in the form of a “dashboard” or a spreadsheet or some form of elegant 3-D graphics…is not the reality, but merely a necessarily partial representation thereof.  The output of the information system is not a substitute for going to the Gemba, to use the Lean management phraseology.

    Related post: management mentalities

     

    16 Responses to “The Map is Not the Territory”

    1. Charles Cameron Says:

      Excellent — thank you, David.

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      The output of the information system is not a substitute for going to the Gemba, to use the Lean management phraseology.

      Industry Week:
      First, it requires a deep curiosity to know what is really going on. Not what you assume is going on, or what you heard is going on, but what is really going on.

      The best manager I ever worked with, a man who had about 150 people reporting to him, had a habit of doing just that. He spent a lot of time talking to people and getting a feel what was actually going on everywhere. It made a huge difference in the quality and effectiveness of his planning and decisions.

    3. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Gus?

    4. dearieme Says:

      Management by walking about – I used to practise that. But I perhaps should have tried harder. I dare say that modern appraisal systems have no box to tick for it, though.

    5. Jonathan Says:

      Don’t confuse metaphor with reality.

      Don’t confuse value at risk financial models with reality.

      Don’t confuse best case projections of uncertain risk models with reality.

      Don’t confuse worst-case projections of uncertain risk models with reality.

      (etc.)

    6. PenGun Says:

      I’ll just point out that LNG plant in Qatar has a rather direct relationship to the dead kid who washed up on the shore.

      It is largely Qatar that instigated the west’s attack on Syria to secure the territory for their pipeline. As well as instigating a Sunni/Shiite war, they and the US have unleashed an ongoing catastrophe in the area. Add that to the terrible blow-back from the Libyan fiasco and we have the present situation Dead babies.

    7. Mike K Says:

      “the west’s attack on Syria to secure the territory for their pipeline. ”

      Proof that conspiracy theories are not a right wing phenomenon.

    8. PenGun Says:

      http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user92183/imageroot/2015/09/QatarTurkeyGasLine.png

    9. TMLutas Says:

      What’s sad is that for a great many use cases, we don’t even have the video game.

    10. Mike K Says:

      So, PenGun, the West is building an”Islamic pipeline ?”

      Nice call.

      First it won;t happen. Second you are making a fool of yourself (I know that was a while ago).

    11. PenGun Says:

      No. They have wanted Assad gone for a long time. The US, and a good part of the Sunni middle east.

      After they started the so called revolution there, which would have died out fairly quickly, they began the push to arm and train any rebels they could find. This really is where ISIS was born. The Qataris were among the leaders in this as they have the most to gain.

      I could go on but you really don’t care.

    12. Mike K Says:

      ” you really don’t care.”

      St least we agree. Conspiracy theories must have some basis in fact to be plausible. I suppose you are a Corbyn supporter.

      He does fit a few conspiracy theories.

    13. PenGun Says:

      Amazing. These are hardly theories. The news supports my view well, unless you get yours from the usual sources, that is. ;)

      It is where Al Jazeera lost it’s innocence and all the major news outlets proved that they were bought and paid for.

      I suppose the CIA had nothing to do with the Ukraine fiasco as well. These are big boys playing hardball. Rules are not what they are interested in.

      When America becomes the main cause of misery on the planet, job done, and Vlad Putin emerges as the good guy you know the fan is gonna get a workout.

    14. Mike K Says:

      “When America becomes the main cause of misery on the planet, job done”

      Well, convincing anyone that it does and your job is done.

      I’m sure you think the CIA was importing crack concern into San Jose.

      The KGB convinced you that nuclear power was bad. It’s a long list.

    15. Mike K Says:

      crack cocaine, dammit !

    16. Grurray Says:

      “They have wanted Assad gone for a long time”

      Who’s they? Not the current leadership of the United States

      http://www.nationalreview.com/article/312450/assads-useful-idiots-noah-glyn

      We’ve all seen the photos of the Kerrys enjoying an expensive dinner with the Assads.
      And only a few years before that France was attempting to gather leaders together to form a Mediterranean Alliance with Assad’s Syria an important part.

      The current animus toward the Syrian regime only began after the Arab Spring and Mubarak fell in Egypt. It was then that the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood infiltration in the Obama Administration got the ball rolling.