Chapter 2. A New Model of Control

Post-industrialism challenges twenty-first-century businesses to become more open, responsive, experimental, and resilient. Companies still, though, exist to generate profit. They aren’t indifferent to the results of their efforts. Profit isn’t something companies are happy just to let ebb and flow naturally. They direct all their efforts toward controlling it and ensuring that it continually moves in the right direction.

Profit allows a company to perpetuate its existence, and to replenish and grow itself. Growth lets public companies satisfy the imperative to create shareholder value. Even small, private companies pursue profit and growth in order to generate financial fuel for personal goals like sending your children to college or affording retirement.

One might say that control is the most basic activity that defines a corporation. Much of its activity will be directed toward controlling the parameters that contribute to profit and growth. In the quest to maximize profit, companies must control both internal and external parameters. Internal parameters include cost of materials, lead time, product quality, information flow, operational procedures, and employee behavior. External parameters include market share, income, customer behavior, and stock price.

IT came into being to aid the quest for control. Traditionally it provided information needed by internal and external control mechanisms. As companies have increasingly automated internal ...

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