Understanding the Lite Frameworks began with the story of “Attributes”

November 22, 2009

The central claim to credibility of any management system must be its capability to drive deep contextualization of its topic. We want a Safety Management System to make our safety safer, not to make our paperwork heavier. We don’t want a better generalization and abstraction of management when we start out Environment Management System – we want a better handle on our environment.

This is the core implication of understanding Compliance management as an “attribute” system – it lets us manage the “attributes” better.

Simply put, nobody goes into business to do “quality”, or gets paid to do “environment”. They go into business to make pharmaceuticals – and they better be quality (assured) pharmaceuticals, or they won’t last long. Or they go into business to mine gold – and they better do it with an eye to the environment, or they’ll have no long term future. “Quality, Safety” and “Environment” are like adverbs – they describe the way we do something, not the thing itself.

This was a key breakthrough for me as I tries to understand how good quality management was different from good production management in the vaccine firm I started my management career in. What was my value add – if it wasn’t “policeman” or “sales prevention specialist”, what did I bring, and how could I discern the boundaries. And how could I teach that discernment?

Seeing the common theme in things like quality, safety and environment – my portfolio – as “attributes” – perspectives on the core business we were in, unlocked the puzzle.

Attributes expand and contract according to business and/or role focus

Picture attributes as perspectives on a business that interest us eg:

Like businesses themselves, attributes expand and contract. Whether you are a sole trader or a multinational, the core issues of business – ROI, Profit, cash flow remain the same. Whether the attribute function is a part-time responsibility or a GM-led function, the core issues of compliance remain the same.

So then we end up with a variaety of different kinds of businesses, with different needs and mixes of attributes

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