||This article possibly contains original research. (December 2007)|
- See also Oxford Pro Musica Singers.
OPMS integrates all of the lists and models created during progress towards a Mission onto one single page, in a powerful ‘model of models’ – which enables any of the models created to become available at the mere click of a mouse. The OPMS is, in effect, a crystallization of the Mission onto a single page – with no loss of information whatsoever, regardless of how complex or large the original Mission may be.
It is found that the OPMS enables IM to be applied with relative ease to issues and problems of all kinds – organizational, societal as well as individual. The objective is, as always, to enable people better to understand, and control, the complex systems within which they must live and work.
George S. Chandy, a mathematician and logician from India, invented ‘One Page Management System’ (OPMS) sometime in 1981. It is based on Interactive Management (IM), the powerful system methods that derive from Professor John N. Warfield’s “structural approach to system design”. The application of the method also has been carried forward and codified by other entrepreneurial practitioners in world wide applications, and an illustration of the scope of penetration of the method has recently been summarized  by Alexander Christakis, a long standing collaborator of Dr. John N. Warfield.
IM consists of tools to:
- Generate ideas – through systematically developed methods of brainstorming;
- ‘Structure’ (or organize) ideas generated.
The structuring tools of IM, created and developed for system needs by the renowned systems scientist, Professor John N. Warfield, in a three-decade long study of “complexity in systems and how to enable people to cope with it” are:
- Interpretive Structural Modeling (ISM); and
- Field Representation & Profiling Method (FRP).
Interpretive Structural Modeling (ISM)
ISM enables the structuring of ‘elements’ vis-à-vis any transitive relationship. A transitive relationship is one in which the following property holds:
If element ‘A’ -----> element ‘B’ AND ‘B’ -----> element ‘C’ THEN ‘A’ MUST -----> ‘C’ (where ‘----->’ stands for the transitive relationship under consideration).
The transitive relationship ‘precedes’ is already familiar to many of us through the modeling tool of PERT/CPM, which enables the organization of a set of EVENTS/ MILESTONES into a ‘time-ordered’ sequence. ‘Precedes’ is, in fact, the ordering relationship used in all so-called ‘Project Management’ software.
In the course of his path-breaking study of systems, Warfield understood that, while the ‘precedence-order’ of a set of EVENTS/MILESTONES is often useful, it is by no means sufficient to enable people to understand the complex organizational and societal systems within which they must function. In any such system a whole array of relationships holds, each appropriate to a different part of the system, perhaps at different times. In order that the system may be clearly understood by the people involved in it, the inter-relationships of the system’s parts must be clearly seen by them. Appropriate tools are required for this. Warfield therefore invented Interpretive Structural Modeling (ISM), providing thereby a comprehensive generalization of the modeling idea used in PERT/CPM so that it could be appropriately used for any transitive relationship whatsoever in the system.
ISM has become, since its invention in 1972, a powerful weapon in the armory of tools useful for people designing systems or working within them. It has a vast variety of uses in the system environment, some of which we explore in our OPMS workshops.
Field Representation & Profiling Method (FRP)
In addition to ISM, Warfield also invented the ‘Field Representation & Profiling Method’ (FRP), which is a simple and intuitive means of inserting any elements in a system into categories or ‘similarity classes’ – purely on the basis of perceived similarities between the elements (i.e. using no pre-conceived categorization). The perceived inter-relationships between categorized elements in a Field Representation (FR) may be articulated through the agency of the ‘System Tie Line’ of the FR, which stands for any or all the relationships inherent in the ‘system’ or part of a system represented by the Field. It turns out that, over sufficient iterations, any Field Representation would come to satisfy “Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety”, which is fundamental for the design of effective systems. In the simplest of lay language (for the purposes of designing effective systems), Ashby’s Law states:
“The dimensions of a proposed solution to a problem must match the dimensions of the problem”. (If too few, the solution will not work. If too many, then the proposed solution is likely to be too expensive or too complex).
It has been found that the great majority of failures of human-made systems (as well as sub-optimal performance of such systems) arise because of the failure of the designed systems to satisfy Ashby’s Law.
With these two powerful tools, Warfield has provided us with means to ‘see’, with utmost clarity, into the complex systems within we work or live. Using these two tools, we do have the means to design systems that would be significantly more effective than the conventionally ‘designed’ systems, in satisfying the original purposes for which they were designed. Used effectively together, ‘Idea Generation’ and ‘Idea Structuring’ as realized in Interactive Management, ensure that behavioral and technology issues are effectively integrated into the systems developed.