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Analysis and synthesis of dynamic performance of industrial organizations--The application of feedback control techniques to organizational systems

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1 Author(s)
Wilcox, R. ; Radio Corporation of America, Burlington, MA, USA

In this paper a method is described for evaluating the dynamic performance of the operation of an organization. It is shown that the performance response of past efforts can be expressed mathematically by means of performance operators leading to the development of a mathematical model of the process of industrial operations. This paper considers the operation of an engineering organization as a dynamic system and shows that the organization may be treated as a feedback control system with all control techniques of analysis and synthesis applied. Industrial organizations are complex systems of integrated functional departments, sections, and groups. Management control is obtained by functional capability and feedback. The operation of producing a desired design and product represents a multi-loop feedback control system. Feedback provides a continuous measurement of the actual performance as the design and fabrication of the product progresses; the actual progressive accomplishment is compared to the requirements of the job. Control is obtained by means of the corrective action taken to reduce the deviation between the actual and desired result. The science of automatic control analysis as applied to engineering organizations is directly analogous to that applied to the weapon and industrial process control systems. A key measure of performance for a specific output requirement of a design or product is the relation of progressive accomplishment versus time. Accomplishment is measured by means of a number of relations, such as, degree of completion, man-months of effort, or cost to produce. Time of project performance is measured in weeks or months. The historical data of accomplishment versus time provide the dynamic performances of the functional departments as subsystems. These dynamic performance characteristics are analyzed and transformed into mathematical operators or transfer functions. Block diagrams of the integrated and cooperating project groups provide a picture of the organizational system. Feedback is predominant in such a system. A well-trained and efficiently operating organization may be considered as a complex machine. The combination of block diagrams and subsystem transfer functions provide a mathematical model of the organiz- ation and a basis for synthesis as used in feedback control systems. Examples of the above procedure are demonstrated by the use of specific case histories of a number of projects. Fundamental considerations are given of the application of time lags, dead time, lead compensation, linearity, non-linearity, sampled data, adaptive control, stability, etc., using transient and frequency response techniques. The application of synthesis indicates the measures to be taken by management to improve the organizational structure and its performance. For instance, the effects of reducing dead time, of operating as a project group versus functional groups, and of sampling performance on a weekly rather than monthly basis are explicitly investigated. The result of the dynamic analysis of organizational systems represents a new tool using known techniques for management control in the real technological sense.

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Automatic Control, IRE Transactions on  (Volume:7 ,  Issue: 2 )