Changing Services: Clients, Quality, and Collaboration
Michael G. Prais, Ph.D., Northern Illinois University, 1993

5. Collaboration

The information that workers have about their tools and client expectations is so valuable to the organization that Deming and Drucker recognize that it is necessary that workers are involved developing alternatives for objectives, observations, controls, and decisions. Managers and other workers must solicit this information in order to improve the ability of the organization to solve its problems. However, group problem solving needs skills beyond individual problems solving.

To the Japanese the most important thing in decision making is defining the question not the answer. They focus on deciding on what the decision is about, and avoid focusing on deciding what the answer should be. By focusing on alternatives rather than right solutions, they avoid jumping to conclusions. It is important to bring out dissenting opinions and opposite viewpoints, because consensus is more about listening than talking. One alternative that should always be examined is to do nothing. The second most important thing in decision making is defining what factual findings can be expected and should be looked for once a decision has been planned. The decision is a hypothesis and its validity must be tested. Few people have problems with facts, it's their interpretation that is subject to dispute. Once alternative interpretations have been identified, validity and direction is less of an issue.

The new ideas for managing organizations focus on relationships, communication, and collaboration between various groups. Management has always considered itself and its ideas valuable, but the new ideas point to the value of clients, workers, and their ideas.

6. The New User Services

Originally published in Proceedings of the ACM User Services Conference XXI, 1993.
Copyright Association for Computer Machinery 1993
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