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BEN # 97

Adolf Ceska aceska at CUE.BC.CA
Sat Apr 1 03:43:06 EST 1995

BBBBB    EEEEEE   NN   N             ISSN 1188-603X
BB   B   EE       NNN  N
BBBBB    EEEEE    NN N N             BOTANICAL
BB   B   EE       NN  NN             ELECTRONIC
BBBBB    EEEEEE   NN   N             NEWS


aceska at freenet.victoria.bc.ca        Victoria, B.C.
 Dr. A. Ceska, P.O.Box 8546, Victoria, B.C. Canada V8W 3S2


Le  Chatelier's Principle: "Complex systems tend to oppose their
      own proper functions."

In the field of human organizations,  probably  the  outstanding
example  of  this Le Chatelier's Principle occurs in connections
with the Goals and Objectives Mania, a specialized manifestation
of  a  very  ancient  and   widespread   phenomenon   known   as
Administrative Encirclement.

Let  us  take  an  example  the case of Lionel Trillium, a young
Assistant Professor in the  Department  of  Botany  at  Hollyoak
College.  Trillium's  Department  Head,  Baneberry, has for some
years now failed to  initiate  new  and  interesting  hypotheses
about  the  behaviour  of  the  Slime  Molds, his chosen area of
specialization. Paralleling  this  decline  of  scientific  pro-
ductivity, he has exhibited increasing interest in improving the
"efficiency"  of  his Department. Baneberry has actually gone to
the extreme of checking out of the library  some  recent  publi-
cations  on management science, and his mind is now buzzing with
the terminology of  Information  Retrieval  Systems,  etc.,  and
above  all,  Management  by Goals and Objectives. He fires off a
memo to the staff of his Department requiring them to submit  to
him,  in  triplicate,  by Monday next, statements of their Goals
and Objectives.

This demand catches Trillium at  a  bad  time.  His  studies  of
angiosperms  are at a critical point. Nevertheless, he must take
time out to consider his Goals and Objectives, as the wording of
the memo leaves little doubt of the consequences of  failure  to
comply.  Trillium doesn't want to think about his real goals and
objectives. He only knows he likes Botany.

But he can't just reply in one line, "I like botany and want  to
keep  studying  it." No, indeed! What is expected is a good deal
more formal, more organized, than that. It should fill at  least
three  typewritten  sheets, singlespaced, and should list Objec-
tives and Subobjectives in order of priority,  each  being  jus-
tified  in  relation  to  the Overall Goal and having appended a
time-frame for completion  and  some  criteria  for  determining
whether  they have been achieved. Ideally, each paragraph should
contain at least one reference to  DNA.  Trillium  goes  into  a
depression  just  thinking  about  it. He puts it off as long as
possible, but still it interferes with his study of  angiosperm.
He  can't  concentrate.  Finally he gives up his research, stays
home three days, and writes the damned thing.

But now he is committed in writing to a  program,  in  terms  of
which his "success" can be objectively assessed by his Chief. If
he  states  that  one  objective for the coming year is to write
three papers on angiosperms and he actually writes only two,  he
is  only 67 percent "successful," even if each of the two papers
is a substantial contribution  to  his  field.  His  failure  to
achieve  his  stated  objectives  is  demonstrable  in black and

The next step is even more catastrophic.  Because  Trillium  has
clearly stated his Goals and Objectives, it is now possible with
rigorous  logic how he should spend his waking and working hours
in order to achieve them most  efficiently.  No  more  pottering
around  pursuing spontaneous impulses and temporary enthusiasms!
No more happy hours in the Departmental greenhouse!  Just  as  a
straight line is the shortest distance between two points, so an
efficient worker will move from Subobjective A to Subobjective B
in  logical  pursuit  of Objective K, which leads in turn toward
the Overall Goal.

Trillium can be graded, not only on  his  achievements  for  the
year, but also on the efficiency with which he moves toward each
objective.  He  has  become  administratively encircled. The ad-
ministrators, whose original purpose was to keep track of  writ-
ing supplies for the professors, now have the upper hand and sit
in judgement on their former masters.

Only  one  step  remains to complete Trillium's shackling in the
chains he himself has helped to forge. On advice of the  Univer-
sity  administrators,  the legislators of his State establish by
law the number of hours a Professor of Botany must spend on each
phase of his professional activities. Trillium may feel impelled
to protest, but how can he? The lawmakers are  only  formalizing
what  he himself has told them, through his Goals and Objectives
statements, he wants to  do!  Objectives,  designed  to  improve
Trillium's efficiency and measure his performance as a botanist,
has  gotten  in the way, kicked back, and opposed its own proper
function. Once more the universal  validity  of  Le  Chatelier's
Principle has been demonstrated.

Abbreviated  from:  Gall,  John. 1975. Systemantics: How systems
      work and especially how they fail. Quadrangle/The New York
      Times Book Co., New York. 111 p.

From: LUCO - British Columbia Government, unnamed document,
      page 2.

ALIC     ADM's Land Information Council
CLIB     Common Land Information Base
CLISP    Corporate Land Information Strategic Plan
CORE     Commission on Resources and Environment
CRII     Corporate Resources Inventory Initiative
FRDA     Forest Resources Development Agreement
GIS      Geographic Information System
GLIDE    Government Land Information Data Exchange
LICC     Land Information Coordination Committee
LII      Land Information Infrastructure
LIMF     Land Information Management Framework
LIS      Land Information System
LISC     Land Information Strategic Council
LRMP     Land and Resource Management Plan
LUCO     Land Use Coordination Office
PAS      Protected Areas Strategy
RIC      Resource Inventory Committee
TRIM     Terrain Resource Information Management Program


A protracted winter reduces the amount of barley  available  for
Hoca's  donkey.  So, Hoca gradually cuts down on the barley with
which he feeds his donkey: There is less from  one  day  to  the
next. And then he feeds the donkey once every two or three days.
What  should  he see when he enters the barn one day: The donkey
is dead.

"Pity!" mumbles Hoca. "Just as he was getting  used  to  it,  he

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