What the “means” means/

Ron Batdorf is a leading DoD Civilian who brings new fresh ideas to the DoD.  Ron believes in helping people and he practices helping one person at a time.   Here are some of his thoughts!

Ron Batdorf thoughts:
Humans have always judged what is normal and looked for answers to why we have discrepancies from normal and at what point do these discrepancies/errors/conflicts, etc. need to be addressed. How do we define normal? For most of us it is the steady-state of our environment or in systems speak it is what the system was designed to perform (range or specifications) that fit within a normal distribution curve. The means of the normal curve is the optimum performance of the system and the closer we can get to the means the better our specification are for consistent performance and a better steady state environment.
The question we all have to ask is “what is included in our environment” or “system”. Let me redefine the term I am using as “system”. To me a system whether we are talking about one human being or an organization, or for that matter, whole cultures’ can be summed up as a “system”. The rationale I am using is similar to what has to happen in order to have a capability, which I am very familiar with. It entails the cause/effect or fishbone diagram. Simply put, all systems whether cultures, organizations or down to one human being, have to have at the center the fishbone which includes a human in the loop; materials (physical or non-physical) which usually are stated as machines and the expendables [energy, raw materials (elements), information, etc.]; and, finally the methods/logic/processes, etc to make all of the other components work towards a single capability.
I have found these same attributes exist in every area of professional work. For example in Information Technology the person is replaced by the user interface; the methods or processes by business logic; machines refer to infrastructure; and, materials are directly related to data. All these components of the fishbone diagram affect our notion of normal or steady state?
Do others have normals that counter our normal or do they parallel ours? What happens when other “system” (again using systems in the broader context explained above) enter our boundaries or our environment? For example if we breakdown very large “systems” we would be able to see what our own inputs and outputs for the merged system’s entails. What we are beginning to realize is for organizations to be agile we need these individuals’ inputs and outputs functioning separately but still able to be a part of the larger system. This is where the term loose coupling has been suggested in Information Technology circles.
As we strive for perfection which from a knowledge standpoint in normal is the means (the point of the Alpha and Omega of the system at its apex of performance) we know that we will never reach it but instead have to have some acceptable variation or for us humans’… a tolerance level where we don’t reach deadly conflict. This measure has been defined in statistics as sigma. When we are at the switch of going from positive to negative or vice-a-versa we then know and understand our choices and how they will affect the direction and possible outcomes. Our perfect world is distorted because we have choices. This is what impacts the universe around us and what the Creator put into motion when He created it. When we stop having choices we cease to exist and I believe we pass to another world where gray areas (errors to normal) are not gray any longer but where we see the means and can tell with clarity what is black or white.
This quote was attributed to Aristotle however I could not verify it: Virtue is the means between extremes. This is a very sage statement relevant to our own times today and into infinity and please don’t confuse means with moderation.