Australian universities abandon education

If my recent experiences with curriculum in an IT master’s programme are generalisable across all Australian universities, they have abandoned education in favour of an ideologically-laden, glorified vocational indoctrination. The metaphorical equivalent to book burning.


That indoctrination appears to be heavily based on American plutocratic assumptions about extractive exploitation and the dehumanization of people as objects or resources in a neo-Taylorist approach to maximizing the extraction of surplus value and excluding all other factors, like ethics, social contract, notions of duty to the polity, and even the sustainability of the extractive, exploitive model itself.

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Architecting business process landscape

IFN515 – Fundamentals of Business Process Management

WEEK TWO: Old-fashioned industrial engineering models

The thrust of the five year old articles from the online BP Trends journal seems to be that there is no consolidated process or model for business process modeling, and the domain appears to be in the control of a bunch of old bearded engineering types who eye IT with deep suspicion.

Sharp (2010), in his two-part examination of a client business, presents some generic modelling that looks messy and not particularly generalisable (2010, February2, pp. 3-5).

Moreover, by invoking Porter, Sharp is looking at an industrial production model that may not make sense in terms of post-industrial service industry activities. Continue reading “Architecting business process landscape”

Tenuous model better than none?

INN322 – Information Systems Consulting

WEEK ONE: Long-winded common sense?

Dawson et al present a sometimes highly ephemeral series of propositions based on opaque qualitative research and interpretation (the research data is not presented in any great detail), and propose that a new Theory of Relationship Constraints better explains information asymmetry in information systems (IS) consulting, with a principal focus on control mechanisms to curb sharp practices.

I am still not entirely certain how this model supplants agency theory or the sub-trope of principal-professional lens speculation.

Agency theory might be summarised to mean the consideration of conflictsd arising from a relationship between a principal who/which hires an agent, where the agent might be motivated by self interest to pursue goals that not in the principal’s best interests. Sharma (1997) summarises effective principal control as being limited by the cost of monitoring and metering, where monitoring is a supervisory function, and metering is a quantitative outcomes stipulation (pp 761-762).

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Prescriptions for business process management

IFN515 – Fundamentals of Business Process Management

WEEK ONE: Avalanche of aspects.

Professor Michael Rosemann.
Professor Michael Rosemann.

Notes on a 2004 white paper by Dr Michael Rosemann on the business process lifecycle.

Process identification criteria

Profit: difference between revenues and costs. Target cost intensive processes. Can often be customer-facing interfaces.

Problem processes identified by management based on processing time, number of IT applications, increasing customer complaints, dissatisfied employees, etc.

Likelihood of successful process revamp. Quickest, cheapest win.

Hammer and Champy (1994) mentioned:

Dysfunction: which processes are in the deepest trouble?

Importance: which processes have the greatest impact on customers?

Feasibility: which process redesign is most likely to succeed.

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Hammer time: back to the 1990s

IFN515 – Fundamentals of Business Process Management

WEEK ONE: Dubious foundations with a glib approach

Michael Martin Hammer.
Michael Martin Hammer.

The most conspicuous absence in the introductory lecture and readings has been any mention of enterprise architecture as the overarching strategic discipline in process modelling, implementation, and management.

Instead we are presented with a standalone conception rooted in the work of the late Michael Hammer (13 April 1948 – 3 Sept 2008), whose 1990 Harvard Business Review essay ‘Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate’ is an ode to ‘Chainsaw’ Al Dunlap, the Wall Street buccaneers that adored him, and ultimately to the ascendant plutocratic orthodoxy that has manipulated economic policy in the USA since the 1980s.

Hammer’s thrust appeared to be quite rational: re-align business processes with customers to create greater value by cutting waste, flattening hierarchies, reducing human interventions, and ultimately getting rid of jobs through the automation his headline seemed to steer clear of.

No doubt American corporations couldn’t compete possessing bloated management structures and dated processes against the sharp and hive-like Japanese corporations which treated all employees as dehumanised worker ants.

But as has been remarked so often elsewhere, most notably by Henry Mintzberg, this kind of management ‘rationalisation’ really only led to dehumanisation and some short-term turnarounds that weren’t longitudinally recognised as competitive advantage for lack of strategic vision.

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Managing fear of change

INN331 – Management Issues for Information Professionals

WEEK TWELVE: Final paper.



Global interconnectedness, instant communication, and continual technological innovation has created organisational environments almost constantly in flux, undergoing a kind of permanent restructuring or change management process to meet rapidly changing priorities (Pearlson & Saunders, 2010, p. 110; Smith, 2011, pp. 113-115).

Managers and professionals working in such environments are tasked with understanding change needs and strategies, and implementing solutions chosen by executives, yet face the statistical probability of failing in 50 to 70 per cent of all change endeavours (Aiken & Keller, 2009, p. 100; Smith, 2011, p. 115).

The predicament in such situations is that all organisational staff, including those without management responsibilities, lose if the organisation fails, implying a logical interest by all in successful change outcomes. The rational approach is therefore to facilitate change by working not only for the strategy goals mandated by executive leadership, but also by addressing resistance to change, and therefore seeking to overcome the fear that causes much of that resistance.

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Performance management, the only HR component that counts?

INN331 – Management Issues for Information Professionals

WEEK TEN: HR’s missing premiss.

This week’s compulsory and suggested reading list was extensive, and, as usual, completely ignored by most students, probably because they have learnt that the tutor never challenges them to explain their thinking on any part of the literature, and it certainly doesn’t form the backbone of silly LIS-focused assignments.

We have Drucker being sadly out of date about labour hire companies, a couple of papers advocating the dehumanisation of people as a legitimate HR practice, a couple more specifically focused on IT, the inevitable bullshit library and information studies (LIS) flight of fancy, but one really well-structured and informative paper on Australian HR. That one was almost worth wading through the dross that was the others. I have to wonder sometimes who comes up with these reading lists, and whether they actually read these papers themselves.

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Leadership fanatasies: decontextualised idealism

INN331 – Management Issues for Information Professionals

WEEK NINE: Chasing elusive leadership qualities.


It is unfortunate that academically acceptable treatments of qualitative considerations often need to be masked in a faux neutrality about contexts we all know to be material, if not vital, but that is the state of play.

In that setting, discussions of human attributes or qualities are particularly suspect when they ignore the precise circumstances in which these are observed, and to which an interpretation is linked, which may not be the same circumstances.

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Presentation lessons learnt?

INN331 – Management Issues for Information Professionals

WEEK EIGHT: Ruining presentation design.


MAKING a presentation is a moral act as well as an intellectual activity. The use of corrupt manipulations and blatant rhetorical ploys in a report or presentation-outright lying, flagwaving, personal attacks, setting up phony alternatives, misdirection, jargon-mongering, evading key issues, feigning disinterested objectivity, willful misunderstanding of other points of view-suggests that the presenter lacks both credibility and evidence. To maintain standards of quality, relevance, and integrity for evidence, consumers of presentations should insist that presenters be held intellectually and ethically responsible for what they show and tell. Thus consuming a presentation is also an intellectual and a moral activity.

(Tufte, 2006, p. 141.)

The brief initially called for a 12 slide presentation of (no more than) 20 seconds talk for each slide to comprise a complete presentation in four minutes. The brief did not mention the requirement for a slide of references, but subsequent questions and answers resulted in a definitive ruling that such a slide had to be incorporated.

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