Importance of Models
Models have been used since the time before the written language. They’ve been used to help convey meaning and to help conceptualize thoughts. They’ve also been used to help breakdown complexity into understandable pieces. Prior to a battle, the Army will run rock drills where they will simulate the battlefield in a model to help the organization conceptualize the plan of attack. Football players will study a playbook which will model their actions so that later they can recall their responsibilities while in the game. Architects will build miniaturized versions of their proposed building to help their clients visualize their ideas on what to build.
Project management has laid the historical groundwork of models and breaking down complexity into smaller chunks to help understand the enormity of the work. Imagining the complexity of great construction projects can be overwhelming, take the building of the first step pyramid in Eygpt for the Pharoah Zoser by the Masterbuilder Imhotep 4,500 hundred years ago. Not only was this a massive undertaking but to complete the work with rudimentary tools and technology makes it more impressive (El-Marashly, 1990). These were the foundations of using modeling for project management which is still practiced today and called the work breakdown structure. This is the model of all the tasks broken down into smaller subtasks to help connect the individual actions to completing the overall project.
In academic circles, theoretical models perform a similar function in helping students, peers, or the world understand and conceptualize their theories. These models are used for the understanding of taking a highly complex question and applying a model to help answer the question. It is a tool to help advance thoughts against previously believed unsolved mysteries which gives the thinker a framework to apply logic to.
Charles Darwin was a naturalist and biologist that was able to join the HMS Beagle on a five-year tour around the world. During the trip, he toured the Galapagos Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean where he studied the differences between plants and animals later identifying his theory of Evolution which he later captured in his 1859 book “Origin of Species” (Charles Darwin Biography, 2019). Noting that genetic mutations occurred in all organisms and that some of these mutations aided in survival and were then passed along to the next generations (Darwin, 1859 / 2003). This was the creation of the evolutionary model which shows the most adaptable species survives. This model can be used and applied today when looking at mankind and nature to businesses and leaders of which ones adapt and survive and which ones stagnate and die.
Mathematicians John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern started the foundation of Game Theory in the 1930s which was later enhanced in the 1950s by John Nash, winning him the Nobel Prize (Siegfried, 2013). The theory was founded for economics but took hold in biology where it theorized that the actions of one participant impacted the strategy and actions of other participants (Osborne, 2003). The theory is used to predict the behaviors of others and helps manage the multiple complexities as each proposed move adds multiple variables of possibilities and potential outcomes.
Abraham Maslow was one of the renowned psychologists and philosophers of the 20th century who was best known for his theory on self-actualization (Abraham Maslow, 2019). He designed the hierarchy of motivation, which is the needs of humans represented in a pyramid. The model postulates that an individual cannot be motivated by certain means until their needs are met. It begins with the individual’s physiological needs for food, air, water, and basic essentials. The individual is then motivated by their safety and security. Once achieved the individual will be motivated by achieving love and belonging which will connect to the next layer of esteem where they will then be motivated by recognition and prestige. Lastly, the individual will be motivated by achieving self-actualization of where their motivation will reside with becoming a master of their craft (Maslow, 1987). This is a model that gives a representation of where an organization’s performance can be assessed and what to work on to climb the motivation pyramid.
Watson’s Culture of Innovation Model
There is an inherent complexity in defining a workplace culture. This is not a tangible product or an object but a force similar to gravity. There is a need to breakdown the workplace environment into a model to be able to understand and explore its understanding. This model began with the creation of a sample representation of the workforce and is the foundation of this book.
The model was based on a facilitated planning workshop. This provided the representative sample which had an overall goal of developing unique ideas with a cross representation of most of the business units that comprise the organization. This representation created a controlled environment and also provided a simulated leader with a facilitator.
Using this as an observation point, the innovation model was able to be developed using a four-box grid to breakdown the four key elements of an innovative culture. A culture of innovation is the function of environment, process, team dynamics, and leadership (Watson, 2018).
CI = f(E,P,TD,L)
The environment represents the physical location, the organization, and the values of the company. The process refers to how ideas are created. Team dynamic represents the behaviors of the individuals involved and how they enable or disable idea generation. Lastly, leadership is how the actions of the manager and how they help or hinder the creative process.
Abraham Maslow. (2019, April 08). Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Abraham-H-Maslow
Charles Darwin Biography. (2019, June 03). Retrieved from Biography: https://www.biography.com/scientist/charles-darwin
Darwin, C. (1859 / 2003). On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: Signet.
El-Marashly, A.-F. (1990). Project Management as Perceived from Ancient Egyptian Projects. In S. H. Reschke H., Dimensions of Project Management (pp. 275-290). Berlin: Springer.
Maslow, A. H. (1987). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper and Row.
Osborne, M. J. (2003). An Introduction to Game Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Siegfried, T. (2013, November 2013). Top 10 revolutionary scientific theories. Retrieved from Science News: https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/context/top-10-revolutionary-scientific-theories
Watson, M. (2018). Common Strategies and Practices Among Facilitators of Innovative Thinking in Organizations. Ann Arbor, MI: ProQuest.
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