Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pareto Principle and Human Resource Management

Book Review

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch

(Reviewed by Vikram Karve)

The Pareto Principle (also known as the 80-20 rule) states that for many phenomena, 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes.

Richard Koch takes a fresh look at the 80/20 principle and finds that the basic imbalance observed by Pareto way back in 1906 can be found in almost every aspect of modern life even today.

In this book, the author creatively and ingeniously extrapolates the Pareto Principle and discovers that it applies throughout our lives in every thread of it.

The 80/20 principle is relevant in managing time, work, people, emotions, friendships, love, marriage, personal health and relationships.

Take relationships. Is it not true that 20 per cent of the people we deal with give us 80 per cent of our happiness?

What can you do to spend more quality time with these 20 per cent happiness givers?

Count on these people. They are your key friends, the 20 percent who contribute 80 percent of happiness and add value to the quality of your life.

The book is in four parts.

Part One (Overture) introduces the principle, is a bit analytical but interesting and tells us how to think the 80/20 way.

Part Two (Corporate Success need not be a mystery) discusses the application of the principle to the business management and corporate domains.

The meat of the book is in Part Three (Work Less, Earn and Enjoy More) where Richard Koch explores application of the 80/20 theory in a number of ways to diverse aspects of life.

Chapter 10 titled Time Revolution is superb, and I can vouch for the fact that concepts like being unconventional and eccentric in the use of your time and high-value and low-value uses of time are really effective as I have incorporated them into my life with great success.

Of all the things you do during your day, only 20 percent really matter. Those 20 percent high-value uses of time produce 80 percent of your results and happiness.

Identify and focus on those things and make sure you make optimal high value use of time to achieve a harmonious balance between your work, home, social, self and other aspects of life.

Chapter 13 titled Intelligent and Lazy delves on the application of the Von Manstein Matrix.

General Von Manstein identified four types of officers in the German Officer Corps of the army.

First, there are the lazy, stupid ones. He suggests that they be left alone as they do no harm.

Second, are the hard-working, intelligent ones. These are excellent staff officers who ensure every detail is accurate.

Third are the hard-working, stupid ones. These, according to him, are a menace and must be fired at once because they only create irrelevant work for everybody.

And finally there are the lazy, intelligent ones. [The 80/20 types?]. These select few are suited for the highest office.

The fourth and last part of the book (Crescendo) explains the success and failure of various approaches in social, government and economic issues with the 80/20 principle as an ever present thread.

The book is readable, educational and interesting.

The secret of a happy and fulfilled life is not difficult.

The book shows you how to apply the 80/20 principle to focus on your best 20 percent in each aspect of your life and thereby enhance your quality of life and elevate your plane of living.

I suggest you keep the book on your table and refer to it from time to time.

The 80/20 Principle should serve as a daily reminder to focus 80 percent of your time and energy on that 20 percent that is really important.

Experiment, have fun, apply the Pareto Principle in various aspects and facets of your life wherever feasible, and use it wisely.

See for yourself how the quality of your life improves, you achieve a harmonious balance between your work life, home life and social life and you feel happy, tranquil and fulfilled.

It is indeed a captivating book. Read it. You will certainly benefit from it.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009


COGNITION – Another Story

A Mulla Nasrudin Story



I am sure you liked the Zen Story on Cognition I posted on my blog yesterday.

Here is a Mulla Nasrudin story which exemplifies the concept of Cognition.

A foreign scholar and his entourage were passing through town where Mulla Nasrudin lived.

The scholar asked to speak with the town's most knowledgeable person.

Of course the townsfolk immediately called Mulla Nasrudin.

The foreign savant didn't speak the local language and Nasrudin didn't speak the foreign scholar’s language, so the two wise men had to communicate with signs, while the others looked on with fascination.

The foreigner, using a stick, drew a large circle on the sand.

Mulla Nasrudin took the stick and divided the circle into two.

This time the foreigner drew a line perpendicular to the one Nasrudin had drawn and the circle was now split into four quarters.

He motioned to indicate first the three quarters of the circle and then pointed to the remaining quarter.

In response to this Mulla Nasrudin made a swirling motion with the stick on the four quarters.

Then the foreigner made a bowl shape with two hands side by side, palms up, and wiggled his fingers.

Nasrudin responded by cupping his hands palms down and wiggling his fingers.

When the meeting was over, the members of the foreign scientist's entourage asked him about the great intellectual discussion he had had with Mulla Nasrudin using sign language.

“Mulla Nasrudn is truly a very learned man,” the foreign scholar said, “I told him that the earth was round and he told me that there was the equator in the middle of the earth. I told him that the three quarters of the earth was water and one quarter of it was land. He said that there were undercurrents and winds. I told him that the waters warm up, vaporize and move towards the sky, and in reply to that he said that they cool off and come down as rain.”

The townsfolk too were curious about the intellectual encounter so they gathered around Mulla Nasrudin, who started to explain, “This stranger has real good taste. He said that he wished there was a large round tray of halwa (milk cake). I said that he could only have half of it. He said that the syrup should be made with three parts sugar and one part honey. I agreed and said that they all had to mix well. Next he suggested that we should cook it on blazing fire. To this I added that we should pour crushed nuts on top of the halwa.”

“It was a very rewarding discussion,” said Nasrudin with a glow of self satisfaction, “and I am so proud that I taught the foreign scholar the best recipe for halwa for which he will be grateful to me forever.”

Do read the Zen story on Cognition

Dear Reader, any Comments?


Monday, September 28, 2009



A Story



Some students asked me the meaning of the term COGNITION.

As I was in no mood to pontificate, I told them this story:

Once upon a time only two monks were permitted to stay in a Zen Temple.

If any other wandering monk wanted to stay in the temple he had to engage in verbal duel defeat a resident monk in debate.

If the new monk won the argument he took the place of the defeated resident monk who then had to leave the temple and move on. If the resident monk won he continued to stay in the temple and the wandering monk had to go away.

In a temple in the northern part of Japan two brother monks were dwelling together.

The elder one was learned, but the younger one was stupid and had just one eye.

A wandering monk came and asked for lodging, properly challenging them to a debate about spirituality.

The elder brother, tired that day from much studying, told the younger one to take up the challenge.

“I am tired and want to sleep,” the elder learned monk told his stupid one-eyed younger brother, “so you go and request the dialogue in silence.”

So the young monk and the stranger went to the shrine and sat down to debate in silence.

Shortly afterwards the traveller rose and went in to the elder brother, bowed his head in reverence, and said: “Your young brother is a brilliant scholar. He thoroughly defeated me.”

“Relate the dialogue to me,” the astonished elder monk said to the visitor.

“Well,” explained the traveller, “first I held up one finger, representing Buddha, the enlightened one. So he held up two fingers, signifying Buddha and his Teaching. I held up three fingers, representing Buddha, his Teaching, and his Followers, living the harmonious life. In reply he shook his clenched fist in my face, indicating that all three come from one realization. Thus he won and so I have no right to remain here.”

With this, the traveller left.

“Where is that fellow?” asked the younger monk, running up to his elder brother.

“I understand you won the debate,” the older learned monk said.

“Debate? What debate? There was no debate and I won nothing. I am going to beat him up and thrash the hell out of him,” the young monk shouted in anger.

“Beat him up?” the perplexed elder monk said, “tell me what happened.”

This is how the stupid one-eyed younger brother described his version of the silent debate:

“The minute he saw me he held up one finger, insulting me by insinuating that I have only one eye. Since he was a stranger I thought I would be polite to him, so I held up two fingers, congratulating him that he has two eyes. Then the impolite scoundrel held up three fingers, suggesting that between us we only have three eyes. So I got mad and started to punch him, but he ran out and that ended the debate.”

Dear Reader, I am sure you are now enlightened about the concept of cognition. If not, I’ll have to tell you another story!


Saturday, September 26, 2009





In my opinion the term “Stress Management” is an oxymoron.

First you create stress within yourself, and then try to “manage” it.

Funny, isn’t it?

Why not prevent stress in the first place?

Focus on “stress prevention” rather than “stress management”.

Let us try one way how to do this.

Long back, sometime in the 1960’s, when I was a small boy, my father took me to visit Belur Math, near Kolkata, and there I acquired a tiny pocket book called “Thus Spake Vivekananda” which I cherish even till today.

Whenever the chips were down, or I felt dejected, I referred to the inspiring gems of wisdom, distilled from the complete works of Swami Vivekananda, for instant motivation and strength.

Here’s one of those gems of wisdom [a phrase from the sayings of Swami Vivekananda]:

Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison

I feel that the word “weak” is all encompassing and embraces anything that creates in you a stressful situation like all negative emotions and feelings including anger, irritation, infuriation, frustration, despondency, depression, demoralization, unhappiness – anything that disturbs your inner tranquillity and equanimity, drains you emotionally and intellectually, besides literal physical weakness.

Oh yes, Stress is weakness, Stress is Poison!

Now sit down in a quiet tranquil place, close your eyes, introspect, and try to think of all the things that make you feel negative – all your stress-creators and stressful situations.

These can be anything – toxic or incompatible persons, who irritate, annoy and hassle you, foods and beverages which don’t suit you and are physically detrimental, activities, which may appear pleasurable, but actually drain you out, technology and gadgets, like your cell-phone, which disturb your peace of mind, and strained relationships, which are a source of stress.

Make an exhaustive list of all the things that make you “weak” and try to reject them as “poison”.

At first you may be a bit sceptical about this approach, but when you start implementing, you’ll be surprised how much it is in your own control to prevent stress.

While you reject the things that make you weak, you must also reinforce the things that make you feel "strong" and positive.

So simultaneously, reflect and contemplate, and make a list of things which give you strength and joy, make you happy and productive – all the things and people that create positive feelings in you – and try to devote as much time and energy to these positive things that give you strength and make you feel good.

This technique of stress prevention works for me, and I’m sure it’ll work for you too.

You can take my word for it that this stress management philosophy is very effective, probably because it is so breathtaking in its simplicity.

In a nutshell - Do things, meet people and go to places that give you POSITIVE VIBES and try to avoid, or minimize, Negative Vibes.

Happy Dasara - Wish you a stress-free life.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009



A Story



There is a beautiful and bright young girl who lives in my neighbourhood. She wants to get married but just can’t seem to find anyone suitable matching her requirements. She is surrounded by so many “eligible” boys, colleagues at work and as her friends, and has “seen” and “rejected” a large number of boys her parents and well-wishers keep lining up for her. None of the boys seems to come up to her perfect standards and high expectations. But she does want to get married.

I wonder whether I should tell her this apocryphal Mulla Nasrudin Teaching story – THE PERFECT WIFE :

Mulla Nasrudin was sitting in a tea shop when a friend came excitedly to speak with him.

“I’m about to get married,” his friend said, “and I’m very excited.”

“Congratulations,” Mulla Nasrudin said, pokerfaced.

“Tell me, Nasrudin, have you ever thought of marriage yourself?” the friend asked Mulla Nasrudin, who had remained a chronic bachelor.

Nasrudin replied, “I did think of getting married. In my youth, in fact, I very much wanted to get married.”

“So, what happened?” the friend asked curious.

“I wanted to find for myself the perfect wife,” Nasrudin said, “so I travelled looking for the perfect wife. I first went to Damascus. There I met a beautiful woman who was gracious, kind, and deeply spiritual, but she had no worldly knowledge. Then I travelled further and went to Isphahan. There I met a woman who as both spiritual and worldly, beautiful in many ways, but we did not communicate well.”

“Then?” the friend asked.

“I kept on searching for the perfect wife and travelled all over the world meeting so many women,” Nasrudin explained.

“And did you find her? Tell me, did you finally find the perfect wife?” the friend asked eagerly.

“Yes,” Nasrudin said, “after travelling all over finally I went to Cairo and there after much searching I found her. She was spiritually deep, graceful, and beautiful in every respect, at home in the world and at home in the realms beyond it. I knew I had found the perfect wife.”

“Then why did you not marry her?” the friend asked excitedly.

“Alas,” said Nasrudin as he shook his head in dismay, “Unfortunately, she was searching for the perfect husband.”

Tell me, Dear Reader, should I tell the beautiful and bright young girl this story now, or should I wait till she perfects the art of remaining single ?


Thursday, September 17, 2009



A Story



Spirituality, Meditation and Art of Living had become the “in thing”.

Courses on the Art of Living were proliferating all over and every one was rushing to attain instant happiness, inner peace, nirvana and bliss.

A wise old man, a teacher, living in the neighbourhood announced that he would teach instant Art of Living free of cost.

On the first day he drew a huge crowd.

“What do you all want to achieve?” the teacher asked the audience.

“Inner peace, tranquillity and true happiness,” everyone shouted in unison.

“For that you have to attain enlightenment.” the teacher said.

"How?" the audience asked.

“By practicing the Art of Living,” the teacher said.

“How do you practice the Art of Living? Please teach us,” the audience asked the teacher eagerly.

“It is simple – just eat and sleep,” the teacher said, “you can practise the art of living by eating and by sleeping.”

“What nonsense!” the astounded audience exclaimed.

“Yes,” said the teacher nonchalantly, “When Hungry, Eat; and When Tired, Sleep – that is the Art of Living”.

“Everybody does that!” shouted the audience.

“No. Everybody does not Eat when they Eat and Everybody does not Sleep when they Sleep”, the teacher said calmly, “but when I eat, I only eat and when I sleep I only sleep. That is the Art of Living I practice – I live in the present moment fully focussed on whatever I am doing with full awareness.”

Dear Reader, do you agree?




A Story



This morning, while explaining the salient aspects of Soft Systems to my students, I wanted to highlight the importance of taking cognisance of differing PERSPECTIVES of various stakeholders while modelling a system. So I told my students this teaching story:

Late at night, a drunkard was lurching, his body swaying and staggering, as he walked unsteadily on a deserted road when a vicious looking dog started barking menacingly at him.

The drunkard bent down to pick up a stone fixed as a road divider to throw at the animal. He could not lift it as the road divider stone was firmly cemented to the earth.

“What a strange place this is,” the drunkard cried in bewilderment, “They tie up the stones and let the dogs go free."

It all depends on how you look at things, your point of view, your perspective, isn’t it?


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

NLP CONCEPT - The Map is not the Territory





[A Philosophical Piece]

“The map is not the territory!”

What does this mean?

Liehtse’s famous parable of The Old Man at the Fort is perhaps apt to illustrate this concept:-

An Old Man was living with his Son at an abandoned fort on the top of a hill, and one day he lost a horse.

The neighbours came to express their sympathy for this misfortune, but the Old Man asked, “How do you know this bad luck? The fact is that one horse is missing and there is one horse less in the stables. That is the fact. Whether it is good luck or bad luck – well that is a matter of judgment.”

A few days afterwards, his horse returned with a number of wild horses, and his neighbours came again to congratulate him on this stroke of fortune, and the Old Man replied, “How do you know this is good luck? The fact is that there are more horses in my stable than before. Whether it is good luck or bad luck – well that is a matter of opinion.”

With so many horses around, his son began to take to riding, and one day while riding a wild horse he was thrown off and broke his leg. Again the neighbours came around to express their sympathy, and the Old Man replied, “How do you know this is bad luck?”

A few days later a war broke out and all the able bodied men were forcibly conscripted into the army, sent to the warfront to fight and most of them were killed or wounded.

Because the Old Man’s son had a broken leg he did not have to go to the war front and his life was saved. And everyone envied the old man.

This parable drives home the lesson that there are no such things like good luck and bad luck.

What disturbs you are not events but your attitude towards them.

You must learn to distinguish between facts and your attitude or judgment towards those facts.

It’s all in the mind.

Facts are like territory – ground reality.

But the way you interpret or judge those facts, your attitude towards them, depends on your mental map.

This mental map is formed due to your values, beliefs and experiences and you tend to view the actual facts or events (territory) through mental filters based on your values, beliefs, biases, prejudices and experiences which form your mental map.

Remember, just like the actual physical geographical territory exists on the ground and its map is drawn on paper, actual facts and events happen in reality and each one of us interprets these facts depending on the different mental maps governing our minds.

An Event, by itself, may not hurt you.

It is your attitude towards that event and your response (mental map) that disturbs you and gives you trouble.

It then becomes your paramount duty to introspect and continuously redesign your mental maps to develop the correct attitude and responses towards external events.

When some event or occurence happens the only thing in your power is your attitude towards it.

We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.

The secret of inner calm lies within you, in developing the proper mental “maps” and the correct attitude in your mind, so that you are not disturbed by the vicissitudes of external events which are akin to the outside “territory”.


Dear Reader: Please do comment and give us your views on this philosophy of life.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cognition and Information


Cognition and Information



Part I – Cognitive Biases

The term cognition refers to a faculty for the processing of information. It is the process of perceiving, thinking, reasoning, analyzing and remembering.

Information is value or quality of a message or communication between a sender and a receiver. Data is observation of facts and information is a collection of data from which conclusions may be drawn, decisions taken and knowledge acquired.

Understanding Human Behaviour is sine qua non for the successful design and implementation of Soft Systems [Human Activity Systems], Management Information Systems and, indeed, all Information Processing Systems.

Human behaviour plays an important role in human information processing. It must be remembered that Information Systems are not installed in a vacuum; they are implanted into a living body, an organisation, a Human Activity Systems.

Human beings are being continuously exposed to an enormous number of stimuli. Cognition of all the stimuli is not possible and most stimuli are eliminated by a complex cognitive process. Even those perceived may be subject to cognitive biases.

A better understanding of human information processing enhances the usefulness of information technology and systems.


Here are a few salient cognitive biases which affect information formulation, acquisition, analysis and interpretation:

Adjustment and Anchoring – In situations of information overload there is a tendency to resort to the anchoring and adjustment heuristic and to rely too heavily, or “anchor” on a past reference or on one trait or piece of information when making decisions. For example, you may emphasize too much on the first piece of information you encounter.

Selective Perception – You accept / absorb only that information that is in consonance with, or confirms, your views, beliefs and values.

Wishful Thinking – You interpret information according to what might be pleasing to imagine [as you would like things to be] rather than according to actual evidence or rational logical reality.

Self-fulfilling Prophecy – is the tendency to engage in behaviors that elicit results which will (consciously or not) confirm our beliefs. You seek, acquire and analyze only that information that confirms or lends credibility to your views and values and ignore any information that contradicts your views or values. This is a “Confirmation bias” exemplified by an irrational tendency to search for, interpret or remember information in a way that confirms your preconceptions.

Ease of Recall – Information which can easily be recalled or accessed affects your perception of the likelihood of similar events occurring again. You rely too much on information that is easy to recall from memory.

Conservation – You reach premature conclusions on the basis of too small a sample of information.

Order Effects – The order in which information is presented to you affects information retention in your memory. Typically, the first piece of information presented [primacy effect] and the last piece of information presented [recency effect] assume undue importance in your mind.

Overconfidence – The greater the amount of data the more confident you are about the accuracy of the data.

Availability – you only rely on and use easily available information and ignore significant information that may not be so easily sourced.

Bandwagon Effect – you develop a tendency to believe information because many other people believe the same information. This may be a manifestation of Groupthink and you tend to “jump on the bandwagon”.

Hindsight – you are unable to think objectively if you receive information that a certain outcome has occurred and then told to ignore this information. With hindsight, outcomes that have occurred seem to have been inevitable; sometimes this is called the “I-knew-it-all-along” effect, the inclination to see past events as being predictable. You see relationships more easily in hindsight than in foresight.

Habit – You choose some information because it was previously accepted for a perceived similar purpose [precedence syndrome] or because of superstition.

Illusion of Control – You develop a tendency for to believe you can control or at least influence outcomes that you clearly cannot and hence you will seek, interpret, process and use information accordingly in an irrational manner.

Gambler’s Fallacy – You falsely assume that an unexpected occurrence of a “run” of some events enhances the probability of occurrence of an event that has not occurred. You develop a tendency to think that future probabilities are altered by past events (when in reality it is not so) and process information accordingly.

Déformation professionnelle – you tend to process information according to the conventions of your own profession, forgetting any broader point of view. You fall victim to the Law of the Hammer – “When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail” – this may happen owing to overspecialization or too straitjacketed professional training which hampers a liberal broad perspective.

[To be continued…]


Wednesday, September 9, 2009






Musings on Human Resource Management

In today’s world, it is naive to assume that people work primarily to achieve professional fulfilment and job satisfaction.

As a matter of fact, they seem to work because what they get "on the job" enables them to achieve whatever they want to accomplish "off the job".

On the job, they have to “produce” - there is no time for any enjoyment.

Both Competition and Compensation levels are higher than ever before and the chief casualties are traditional so-called motivators like “job satisfaction”.

Today’s typical professional may no longer have an undivided loyalty and commitment towards his job.

Therefore, it is incorrect to believe that an employee’s work life is spent entirely in the pursuit of job satisfaction.

Perhaps, he or she is not actively seeking job satisfaction as much as aspiring towards other important needs and considerations like own career progression, standard of living, quality of life, material gain and personal gratification

For most people their job is a means to achieving their desired ends.

One of the typical propositions held by most people connected with HR is that job satisfaction is positively associated with job performance.

Does a “satisfied” employee always “produce” more?

It may be wrong to presume and take for granted a fictitious linkage between job satisfaction and employee productivity in all cases.

In some cases, one may be shocked to find that while the so-called “satisfaction” was increasing, the productivity of the individual was declining.

The reason behind this is the mistaken concept that a satisfied employee will devote his dedicated attention to his work.

A “satisfied” or “happy” employee may begin to develop an approach of self-complacency, and an overall sense of well-being, and consequently, his temperament may become one of ignorant submission and passivity rather than one of positive action and active involvement.

As a result, it is not too uncommon to see that the productivity of the employee does not always closely follow his upward satisfaction curve.

Another important aspect of this situation is the rate of constructive conflict.

If properly used and suggestively applied in the organizational context, the managerial implantation of a limited degree of constructive conflict does indeed shake these smug people and “satisfied” employees out of their lethargy and enables them to achieve a certain individuality of action.

Viewed from the perspective of the organization the key issue is not having satisfied, happy employees but maximizing productivity, the bottom line being profit and achieving organisational goals.

With changing value systems, it may be wrong to believe that increased satisfaction means increased motivation as propounded by various conventional theories of motivation ( Maslow’s Need Hierarchy, for example).

Here it is vital to understand that “need” comprises two components:

“Appetite” and “Desire”.

Appetite corresponds to that part of each hierarchical level of need, the non-satisfaction of which can be expected to normally inhibit or deter progress up the hierarchy of needs.

Desire corresponds with the greedy, relatively unjustified part of each hierarchical level of need, the satisfaction of which should not be viewed as necessary prerequisite.

With changing values, and by habit and custom, yesterday’s desires become today’s appetite. The effect of extrinsic “motivational techniques” like job satisfaction will eventually be to increase need satisfaction threshold limits and draw more energies towards the satisfaction of desires.The myth of job satisfaction exerts severe pressures upon both the employer and the employee.

The employer convinces himself that he must provide satisfaction on the job and the employee rationalizes his behaviour and anticipates satisfaction.

In this two-faceted pressure approach, the entire organization suffers from unwanted conflicts, unfulfilled expectations, and unkept promises.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2009
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Teachers’ Day Lecture

The Systems Approach



The Systems approach is primarily a philosophy [called Synergism] that coordinates in an efficient and optimal manner the activities and operations pertaining to any entity which qualifies to be designated a “System”. Now the entity may be tangible or intangible, animate or inanimate, human or mechanical.

This synergistic systemic effect is epitomized in Aristotle’s classic and immortal statement: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

A System is a set of interdependent components [sub-entities] that create a whole Entity.

Whilst browsing through my bookshelves I came across an “ancient” notebook and found something interesting on “The Necessary Conditions for an Entity [S] to be conceived as a System”.

1. S is Teleological This means that every system has a purpose.

2. S has a Measure of Performance [MOP]

3. There exists a client [or customer] whose interests are served by S in such a manner that the higher the MOP the better the interests are served.

4. S has teleological components which co-produce the MOP of S. This means that a System may have sub-systems.

5. S has an environment which also co-produces the MOP of S.

6. There exists a decision maker who via his resources can produce changes in Measures of Performance of the components of S [sub-systems] and hence changes in MOP of S.

7. There exists a designer who conceptualises the nature of S in such a manner that the designer’s concepts potentially produce actions in the decision maker and hence changes in the Measures of Performance of the S’s components [sub-systems] and hence changes in the MOP of S.

8. The designer’s intention is to change S so as to maximise S’s value to the client [user or customer].

9. S is stable with respect to the designer in the sense that there is a built-in guarantee that the designer’s intention is ultimately realisable.

This leads us to the Sufficient Conditions or the System Trinity:



CLIENT [USER or CUSTOMER, like in the CATWOE Model]

If an entity is to be considered a System it must meet the following sufficient conditions:

1. The entity has a User [Client or Customer] who is interested in the performance of the entity.

2. The entity has a Decision-Maker who affects the performance of the entity by controlling its resources.

3. The entity has a Designer whose preferences are in conformance and in harmony with the client’s [user’s] preferences and the designer designs the system so that it can be operated by the Decision-maker.

4. The Designer wishes to maximise the benefits to the Client [User].

5. The System is capable of executing the Designer’s plans.

Now after reading this gobbledegook (or is it gobbledygook?) please don’t ask me what is a System.

Well I will put it simply – in a System 1+1 equals more than 2, say, 1+1 = 11 or even more.

That’s the concept of Synergy or Synergism so aptly expressed by Aristotle: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

You can now examine any entity and see whether it is a system, and if not, how to transform and dovetail it into a system, so that you can apply the systemic approach and system concepts to the entity.

Look around you and observe various entities, tangible and intangible – your workplace organisation, your school, college or university, your car, your bank, your house, your family, your relationships, and see whether they satisfy the necessary and sufficient conditions for an entity to be considered a system.

Now I’ll ask you a question – Do you think “Marriage” is a System?


Not to worry – just see whether your concept of Marriage satisfies the necessary and sufficient conditions for an entity to be considered a system.

Let’s start with the first necessary condition – Does marriage have a purpose?

Any comments?

Think about it as “homework”!

So here I end my “lecture” – HAPPY TEACHERS’ DAY!