Thursday, April 5, 2012

Principle #2. Continuous Management

The principle of Continuous Management looks at any activity in any level of an organization as an OODA Loop management process. This approach presents a universal model to look at the management performed by a single person, a group of people, or an autonomous system. Also, because of the OODA Loop approach, the transition from manual to automated processes and visa versa is made easy, without drastic changes to the way management is being done. These facts are very useful in the development of management automation systems.

Similar to other principles, the principle of Continuous Management stands against the gaps in automation. In this case, it is concerned about the gaps in local management areas caused either by an absence of required information flows or management functions, or their poor integration. To address these gaps, the OODA Loop can be used as a model where information flows coming into a system are processed and transformed continuously by management functions through 4 distinct states: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. Also, because of the OODA Loop, information flows and management functions can all be active at the same time.

Continuous Management is defined as the following: “Any activity in an organization can be considered as a continuous management process that transforms information through 4 distinct states: Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. Even the simplest work can be viewed as the management of a particular piece of equipment or one’s own body.”

Key points of this definition:

  • Management is a continuous process. Situational information is captured and interpreted, action plans are defined through higher-level goals, and actions are executed that lead to situation changes. Then, the changes in the situation are observed and interpreted, goals and plans are changed, and new actions are executed. By doing this, the management cycle repeats itself again and again, and, in that cycle, all information flows are interconnected.
  • Management is an information process. Situational information, interpretations, goals, and plans are all information flows. They are produced and/or consumed by a management automation system. Even actions, which cause physical effects in the outside world, can be defined as information about work done and its related changes.
  • Management has a broad meaning. Management in C2/GOMA is not considered as an activity performed exclusively by professionals with a “Manager” title. It understands any type of goal-driven activity as being a type of management. Any work, even the most simple function, can be viewed as the management of particular piece of equipment or one’s own body. Moreover, C2/GOMA management is not limited to the activities performed by only humans, but also by automation systems, Artificial Intelligence, robots, microcontrollers, and so on.
  • Management can be described with the OODA Loop. In essence, what is management? It is a procedure that processes information and leads to related actions. Before taking action, newly observed information has to be interpreted and turned into decisions about what actions to take and when. Management has to Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act.

Finally, now that we see how Continuous Management is defined, how do we apply it?

  1. Use a common approach to management automation problems. In its essence, the management process does not depend on who manages (an individual, a group, or an automation system) nor on what is being managed (an entire organization, a department, a dozer, or just pair of hands with a shovel). Apply the same approach throughout the system.
  2. Utilize the OODA Loop as an analytical model. When you need to analyze a system, in order to understand what management functions and information flows exist there, try the following:
    1. Define what situation information is captured and who/what produces that information.
    2. Define how information is interpreted, what facts are used for decision making, and how those facts are chosen.
    3. Define how action plans are formulated.
    4. Last, define what actions are taken, what effects are observed, and what will drive new decisions.
  3. Utilize the OODA Loop as a synthetic model. If you already have your management automation components defined, you can use the OODA Loop to verify whether or not the functions are integrated correctly, what gaps there are, and how the implementation compares to reality:
    1. Classify components by states in OODA Loop.
    2. Classify information flows and link them together into cause and effect chains.
    3. Create an OODA Loop model for the real system.
    4. Compare the real (required) model to the current (developed) one. Define what management functions are absent and which ones are excessive.
    5. Define what information flows are absent or excessive.
    6. Finally, analyze the external dependencies and compare them to public interfaces.
  4. Improve the flexibility and reusability of automation solutions by implementing and utilizing generic management procedures.
  5. Stop doing disruptive, gappy management automation using isolated sequential functions. Even though the simple, single-function machine is well understood and proven, the alternative is not much more complex, and it is much more powerful. Try to implement a management system that uses functions for all 4 states of the OODA Loop and close the management cycle.

By doing this, the principle of Continuous Management will help us create complete management automation systems.