Value Propositioning: Book One: Perception and Misperception in Decision Making By Rick Dove Iceni Books; $15.00 (available at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com)
One of the more important books that you'll ever have the opportunity to put to good use in your professional (and even recreational) life is this slim (96-page) but dense text by thinker and consultant Rick Dove. Dove has a depth of understanding of organizational issues, particularly as they pertain to the implementation of technology, that is unparalleled among those who tend to hold forth on such matters. While Dove's previous book, Response Ability: The Language, Structure and Culture of the Agile Enterprise, dealt primarily with agility, an operational and organizational approach that he was instrumental in defining in his work with the Agile Forum at Leigh University in the early ‘90s, in Value Propositioning Dove thoughtfully examines how decisions are made in organizations. He synthesizes, condenses, and deploys the concepts of a number of people who have thought about and essayed the ways of learning and thinking and puts what are otherwise academic issues into the non ivy-covered world.
Say you want to have a new program approved. You must create a value proposition for why that would be important to someone else. That someone is what Dove calls the "Decision Maker." And he maintains, "Nothing happens until a problem is perceived by a Decision Maker." The problem that your program can resolve may exist, but unless the Decision Maker is convinced of the reality of that situation, until the Decision Maker perceives it, then the likelihood that there will be any change is nil. Moreover, once there is a perception of a problem, then the "satisficing" behavior defined by Herbert Simon comes into play: people aren't apt to go too far outside their current concepts, notions or ideas when presented with alternatives. Dove writes: "Satisficing behavior tends to limit search activity initially to a small number of candidates," and chances are those candidates are not thoroughly unfamiliar, for, as he puts it in an example, "when an existing product becomes inadequate for the market, a company will tend to look purposely for projects that promise a superior featured version rather than something completely different that would obsolete the product concept." In other words, "New and Improved" is just fine; "Something Completely Different" is anathema to most Decision Makers. But getting them to where they need to be isn't impossible—if you fully perceive their position.
An understanding of how Decision Makers think and how they can be best influenced greatly enhances your ability to get things done. And this is what Dove's book can help you do.—GSV