What is the world of an artificial manager made of? Part 5 – Events as processes

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In the previous post I described what events in the world of the artificial manager are. You could call them events in the imagination, they were somewhat abstract and theoretical. Now let’s consider what these events are realistically in the world of an organization, a company, a project. I will describe here what these events can be and why we say they are processes. This will be another piece of the puzzle for you to understand how the manager’s sense of robotic activities, mentioned by me a few posts back, should be structured.

As a reminder of what an event is, I will write the definition of an event after J. Zieleniewski. “When two such states (states of affairs – author’s note) differ from each other in a way other than just that particular way which we use as a definition of the passage of time (…), we have an event.” [1] Since there is a single feature of a thing in the definition of an event, in what follows I assume that a feature of a thing is what is adjudicated about an object in answering the question of what it is like [2]. The characteristics of a thing can be divided into relative and absolute characteristics. A relative feature of a thing is any quality or quantity of it, adjudicated because of its relation to another thing. An absolute feature of a thing is any quality or quantity of it, vested in the real world, ascertained through a cognitive act [2].

The set of characteristics of a thing at a given moment t denotes a certain state of affairs. Thus, an event occurred when a thing at time t1 exhibited a certain characteristic, and at time t2 it no longer exhibited that characteristic (or vice versa). [3]

The management science literature more often uses the word “process” instead of the word “event,” and even uses “event” as part of “process” [4]. The classic definition of a process is: “A process is (…) a set of sequential activities, linked by cause-and-effect relationships in the sense that the results of preceding activities are the inputs of the activities following them.” [5] A similar definition is formulated by A. Stabryla and J. Trzcieniecki. A process can be defined as a sequence of ordered activities leading to the achievement of a given result at a given point in time or interval of time. [6] Finally: “A process is a sequence of events (…). The goal of a process is a preferred outcome in a given time interval.” [7]

Phew, your head is probably spinning from these definitions. Unfortunately, you have to go through them to come to some constructive conclusions about what the event-process relationship is in an organization in the very popular process approach in management science [8].

How to interpret it all together?

Let’s go back to things. Things last over time, have some characteristics and then we call it a state of affairs. Things are also resources in an organization. Events create or change things (and therefore resources in the organization). The duration of events goes to zero. If we have a sequence of events, then we talk about a process (in the organization). Remember the analogy of recording events to shooting a movie at a certain number of frames per second? If we are not made infinitely fast (the number of frames goes to infinity), then we are also not able to register events. On the other hand, sequences of events already do – these are processes. That’s why I use the concept of processes, not events, in an organizational size system – there is no way to record them in any way imaginable today. On the other hand, in order to build a sense of the activities of a robotic manager, it is enough if we record sequences of events, i.e. individual processes.

In the next post, we will summarize for ourselves what we already know about the world of the artificial manager, i.e. resources and processes.

I remember that I was supposed to present the solution to the Gantt chart puzzle I asked you in a previous post. You were supposed to draw a Gantt chart of your project on a blank sheet of paper. But you haven’t drawn anything yet. Is there a plan on this sheet of paper or not?

There is a plan on the blank sheet of paper, only it’s in what we would call a “null” state of affairs. You just can’t see it….

[1] J. Zieleniewski: Organizacja zespołów ludzkich. Wstęp do teorii organizacji i kierowania. Warszawa, PWN, 1978, s. 42

[2] T. Pszczołowski: Mała encyklopedia prakseologii i teorii organizacji. Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków-Gdańsk, Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich – Wydawnictwo, 1978, s. 31.

[3] Z. Ziembiński: Logika praktyczna. Warszawa, PWN, 2006, s. 64.

[4] M. Glykas: Performance Measurement in Business Process, Workflow and Human Resource Management. Knowledge and Process Management 2011, Vol. 18 (4), s. 241-265

[5] P. Grajewski: Organizacja procesowa. Warszawa, PWE, 2007, s. 55.

[6] A. Stabryła, J. Trzcieniecki: Organizacja i zarządzanie. Warszawa, PWN, 1986, s. 132.

[7] Z. Gomółka: Cybernetyka w zarządzaniu. Warszawa, Agencja Wydawnicza Placet, 2000, s. 12.

[8] M. Hammer, J. Champy: Reengineering w przedsiębiorstwie. Tłum. U. Zreda. Warszawa, Neumann Management Institute, 1996.