Aversity to Budgeting for Interface Expenses (C7,
E4, H2). What large organizations have budget line items
that pay only for interactions among different divisions
or components of the organization, whose staff is committed solely
to the promotion and conduct of such interactions? What organizations
reward particular managers solely for carrying out the function
of interface management, allocating funds to those different organizational
components solely to pay for the necessary interactions with other
components? If there are such organizations, surely they are small
in number, because the governing organization charts typically show
functional responsibilites of the most well-defined type, such that
managers who have responsibilities for their own particular functions
(even those whose products ultimately produce interactions with
products developed through other functions for which others are
responsible), nevertheless do not find it appropriate to fund interactions,
because to do so might threaten their capability to carry out their
Aversity to Deep Thought (H8). One of the
most frequently noted aspects of high-level management behavior
is that whatever is to be adjudicated must be presented (at least
initially) on one page. No distinction can be made according to
"depth" of thinking.
Sometimes such a one-pager can be followed up with a
one-hour presentation, in which transparencies are the standard
In either instance, the size of a normal sheet of paper
is normally the defining concept of what kind of information can
be offered. In some instances, a computer screen determines the
size that is available to present a concept.
Confusing Prestige with Authoritativeness (M3).
Huge financial rewards are available today to consulting organizations
that assist clients in working with complexity. Some of these organizations
have very high profiles. It is not unusual to see the expression
the "prestigious X" in referring to these organizations.
One must keep in mind that, if an organization is prestigious, it
is often because of what went on there several decades into the
past. The prestige may have come from pioneers who have long since
died, and whose ideas were not even recognized at the time as being
Failure to Distinguish Among Context, Content, and
Process (H9). The context for human interaction, if
left undefined, admits content-oriented dialog to be random, incoherent,
rambling, unfocused; and may well cause dissension concerning the
process being applied in the interaction. The process for
human interaction, if left undefined, admits the content interaction
to fly back and forth between discussions about what process ought
to be used in respect to a particular topic; and may well allow
context shifts to be made arbitrarily, as various misassociations
are triggered, or as unarticulated interests emerge spontaneously.
The content that can be produced may well be incoherent as
participants shift from one context to another, and propose different
Indistinguished Affinity to Unstructured Discussion
(C6, E3, H1). Unstructured discussion is widely practiced
as a way of sharing thought, and as a means of providing instruction.
Such discussion, when it involves the potential discussion of complex
situations, with due attention to the Work Program of Complexity
(Description, Diagnosis, Design, and Implementation) invariably
rests solely upon the narrow shoulders of prose expression, which
can be trusted only to the extent that linear presentation is capable
both of capturing and communicating a complex set of relationships.
Since prose alone lacks such a capability, the failure to distinguish,
consciously, unstructured discussion that deals with complex situations
from unstructured discussion that deals with ordinary situations
is a clear indication of the presence of this Mindbug.
Insensitivity to Conceptual Scale (C4). Situations
are not distinguished in terms of the relevance of their conceptual
scale to human cognitive limitations, nor to the likely irrelevance
of methods learned or experienced that apply to ordinary situations,
when faced with complex situations.
Insensitivity to the Presence and Origins of Human
Fallibility (C5). Insensitivity to the presence and origins
of human fallibility is recognized by behavior that proceeds indiscriminately
to base large-scale activity on fallible belief, and makes false
assumptions about the capacity of the individual human being to
reach an adequate perception of patterns involved in complex situations
through ordinary thought processes.
Insensitivity to Role Distinctions (H5).
Lack of understanding of how the various roles in a collaborative
activity interact, in working toward common aspirations and fulfilling
expectations, is a clear measure of insensitivity and, even more
problematic, leaves open the possibility that in usurping the role
of others, the miscreant's own responsibilities will not be carried
Insensitivity to the Significance of Information
Flow Rates (H7). The ability of the human being to learn,
absorb, follow, and interpret, incoming information cannot be imagined
to be without limits. Otherwise, everything to be conveyed could
be sent at the speed of light in one overpowering burst of communication.
Thus it must be true that there is some limit (even if it differs
from one person to another), and this limit needs to be taken into
account when genuine communication is intended. Very likely, effectiveness
can be totally eliminated if the information flow rate is too fast.
Irresponsible Propagation of Underconceptualized
Themes (E9). Reliance on authority opens the door to propagation
of themes that are flawed by underconceptualization. It is one thing
to blindly accept the voice of authority. At least such blind acceptance
could be ultimately subjected to tests. But it is another thing
to go further and propagate a theme, in the absence of any significant
Leaping to Misassociation (H4). Reflection
and experience suggest that, in striving to comprehend a situation,
the mind is often prone to leap to associations, in which an attribute
often regarded as very beneficial in promoting creativity is applied
to expand the domain of consideration, thereby suggesting either
an extended form of relationship or a new approach to description
or diagnosis, or a creative component of a sought design.
The same mental property, when undisciplined, leads
to grave misunderstandings and interpretation. Leaping to misassociation
can be one of the most common ways of misjudging the utterances
of another person, and it is often very difficult to avoid this
Misassignment of Relative Saliency (E8). In
a wonderful book, Kenneth Boulding identified "spurious saliency"
as one of the three primary reasons for poor intellectual productivity.
Spurious saliency generally refers to a practice of misperceiving
the relative importance which well-designed criteria would suggest
should be attached to different situations from a particular set.
Yntema and Mueser described results from psychology showing that
individuals could do a lot better at dealing with several attributes
of a single entity than they could in dealing with one attribute
of several entities. Misassignment of saliency apparently reflects
a frequently-made error. This can be described as the result of
behavior that allows a superficial assessment to be made when several
distinct entities are involved.
Misattribution of Consensus (M6). Misattribution
of consensus refers to a well-known aspect of what is called "groupthink"
in the technical sense given by Janis, and what is sometimes called
"the Abilene Paradox" in business consulting. The unwillingness
of members of a group to identify their own opposition to what is
mistakenly perceived as a general agreement may result in a widespread
belief that the members of the group all agree on something which,
in truth, none of the members may believe.
Misconstruing Persistence as Validity (M7).
If a certain concept has appeared to be widely accepted for a
long time, it may be perceived and acted on as though it were a
valid belief just because of its persistence, and without
any corraborative, collateral evidence to support the belief; even
when abundant evidence could be marshaled to show invalidity.
Misconstruing Philosophy as Ideology (and vice versa)
(E7). Some people, in history, span the field of philosophy
and other fields, such as sociology, psychology, political science,
and management. In presenting their views, they are prone to mix
philosophical considerations with political or management beliefs.
As a result, it becomes difficult if not impossible to sort out
the components. As a consequence, ideology is often described as
philosophy, and philosophy may sometimes be called ideology, depending
on how the critic views the material.
Misconstruing Structural Incompetence as Innate
Incompetence (M5). "Structural incompetence" was defined
by a group of federal program managers as something to be strongly
distinguished from innate incompetence. The latter refers to the
inability of people to accomplish particular tasks because they
lack the requisite knowledge and ability. The former refers to their
inability to accomplish particular tasks, for which they possess
the requisite knowledge and ability, but still cannot accomplish
these tasks because the situation in which they perform imposes
upon them a constraining institutional structure that disenfranchises
Misconstruing Technology as Science (and vice versa)
(C3, M4). Science progresses slowly. Technology progresses
rapidly. They are mistakenly thought to march apace.
Misinterpretation of Linguistic Adequacy of Natural
Language (C1,M1). The belief that natural language is adequate
to describe, diagnose, and provide corrective designs to practices
Misinterpretation of Linguistic Adequacy of Object
Languages (C2,M2). Object languages, following David Hilbert,
are languages that are especially constructed to communicate about
specialized knowledge. The most prominent of these languages, at
present, are those that have been developed for use in constructing
software for computers. Now that organizations which work with complexity
are finding it necessary to turn to computers to manage the massive
amounts of information required (often by law), they are learning
how ineffective these object languages are for communicating about
the substantive work that goes on in fields such as medicine, law,
and economics. Thousands of consultants are now striving to sell
contracts to large organizations to "help them" make the necessary
changes. In the process, they strive to force the client to adopt
significant linguistic components introduced by the contractor.
They misinterpret the linguistic adequacy both internally and externally.
Mistaken Sense of Similarity (E6). Organizations,
individuals, or concepts are placed in the same category in a mistaken
belief that, because they are similar in some respects, decisions
that are believed to be applicable to the category are applied to
every member of the category.
Mistaken Sense of Uniqueness (E5). There
seems to be a tendency for organizations and/or individuals to construe
themselves to be unique. As a consequence of this, there is an unwillingness
to apply systems of thought or practice, even though they may have
been highly productive when applied elsewhere. The generality of
concepts that underpins virtually all of physical science, and which
is responsible for virtually all of its relevance in modern life,
is thereby denied in areas that involve behavior.
Susceptibility to the Fad of the Month (E1,H6).
The history of recent events in organizational development and
management clearly shows a shower of fads. A fad is distinguishable
because it comes into play like a meteor, and flashes across the
sky at the same time that it is engaged in burning itself out, then
it disappears, sometimes as abruptly as it appeared.
Unawareness of the Cumulative Impact of Many Colocated
Mindbugs (E10). Mindbugs are located in the human nervous
system; the conscious or the subconscious, perhaps mostly the latter.
While they may individually create havoc, it is devastating to observe
what they produce when acting in concert.
Unawareness of Imputed Structure (E2,H10). It
is frequently true that model structure is smuggled into a model
by constructing models based on formats that have a preassigned
type of structure, such that a person using that particular format
has already implicitly imputed that structure to the model, without
ever considering the model structure independently of the kind of
model chosen. For example, if a person builds a systems dynamic
model to study the dynamics of a situation, the structure of that
model necessarily conforms to the presuppositions associated with
systems dynamics. Many modelers do not consider the development
of model structure to be a step in the process of model development.
Instead they bypass that step altogether, intuitively imputing a
structure to the model without specific awareness that they are