Performance of the Company (The Stem of the 4-Leaf Clover)

The Stem is the SOCIO-ECONOMIC SPECTACLE theatrics aspect of performance traces how the root cause and effects of the firm's Socio-technical systems are embedded in the political economy. In particular we focus on how the firm's spectacle, its Metascript and Metatheatre is rooted in the Socio-Economic spectacle context. We assess this context in terms of the industry sector, relation to suppliers, competitors (benchmarking), and customers. We also look at the environmental context in terms of economic, technical, legal, ethical, political and community trends. 

Figure 1: The Socio-Economic Spectacle Context of SEAM

In cause and effect (root cause) mapping we look at the interface of  Structure/Process (Leaf Leaf) the Six Social Performance areas (Top of Leaf) with the Behaviors (Right Leaf) and the hidden costs (Bottom Leaf). Together this gives us a map of the key interactions that relate to the performance of the company (What we call the Stem of the Four Leaf Clover). 

QUALIMETRICS - Seam is based upon Qualimetrics (Boje, 2003 intro to Savall & Zardat Qualimetrics book). Qualimetrics is the qualitative study of metrics organizations use to measure their socio-economic performance. Metrics is the magnification and oversrvation of behavior, in a system of observation and taxonomic classification. Qualimetrics examples include the Root Cause and the Story Chart. A sosiotechnical systems variance map is another example. A Variance is what happens when someone hands you something that is not ready, or you pass along something damaged, late or confused to the next guy. Variance is something that goes wrong, such as when someone is absent, and the person who fills in doesn't know how to bake the bread. Let us imagine that you own a bakery (More... see Structure & Process of SEAM). A variance is a problem that stems form a focal problem being embedded in a web or chain of relationships. For example, if you are doing a Team Report and two of your members do not deliver their parts, that is a VARIANCE, and it gets passed along in the final report unless there is a whole lot of communication, coordination, and cooperation (examples of variance charts 1 simple, 2 Hospital example.

Figure 2 - Sydey Hospital Example of Variance Analysis

Qualimetrics is an optical and taxonmic project of spectacle theatrics. Figure 5, for example, is a visual summary of the metrics used to track variances in a Sydney Australia hospital. This is the meaning of the phrase, "Socio-Economic Spectacles" in Figure 1, and it is given visible theatric display in Figure 5.

Organizations are more or less controlled by this kinds of visible metrics, metrics that allow management to gaze character behavior and process rhythms, in more or less clear vision. Another example of a visual system of metric controls is the Fishbone.


Figure Six - Ishikawa Fishbone Cause-Effect Chart applied to SEAM another example 1 ; example 2

The "fishbone" or "Ishikawa" cause-effect diagram is named after its creator, Kaoru Ishikawa (1985) and used for Total Quality Control. Fishbone is a visualization and knowledge of variance management tool. It is used as a visually display, a taxonomy of causes and effects, and interrelationships, that track and control processes. Variances in quality can occur in these processes and interorganizational relationships:

Spectacle Theatre is like a microscope, "an instrument of hihgly selective enlargement" (Case & Reinelt, 1991: 135). The control and power of qualimetrics is to put the microspoce to previously invisible and indescribable organizational surfaces. In Qualimetrics we study how metrics emerge and deconstruct in the entropic everyday world of organizations. Qualimetrics is the study of metrics in use to make process segments of the organization visible. In the Qualimetrics drama, scripts of everyday life are recorded, enlarged, and variances are mapped and charted to facilitate organizational control. Qualimetrics is the study of this mapping process, the construction and proliferation, and interpretation of metrics in organizations. Metric measurements create knowledge by manipulating the visible scale of organizational processes, bringing them into view with artificial and simulated indiators.

Figure Seven- Qualimetric Comparison of 2 firms

If you compare the performance of two firms, then there are two critical dimensions. Firm A appears to have more Immediate Results but in the long run fails in the arena of Creation of Potential. Firm B, has less immediate results but a better Creation of Potential. Which Small Business would you rather be in?

There is an important relation between short and long term (hidden costs).

Dysfunctions from Socio Economic (imbalances)
1. Absenteeism
2. Staff turnover
3. Industrial injuries
4. Low Quality
5. Lack of productivity

6/ Extra wages
7. Non production
8. Over time
9. Over consumption
10. Non creation of potential gain

The answer lies in balancing the short and long term costs and balancing the social and the economic facets of the small business.

I connect SEAM to the SEPTET of theatric elements. For example if the Social Performance factors (Working Condition THEMES, Work Organization FRAMES, Communication-Coordination-Cooperation DIALOGS, Time RHYTHMS, Training CHARACTERS, and Strategic PLOTS -- all the SOCIAL ASPECTS are not tended to then the Small Business experiences bottom line HIDDEN COSTS that affect the bottom line (both in the short and longer term). The problem is that while those Costs stay Hidden, no one knows where the underlying problems are or what exactly to do about them. And the Revenues that could be happening are also hidden.

The reason why most small businesses never see BIG RESULTS is because they only SEE what is above the WATER LINE. Think of an ICE BERG. You see what is above the water line, but not what is below.
There is a printable Diagnostic for SEAM (press here). See Short Form of questions to take with you on interviews (press here).


Case, Sue-Ellen & Janelle Reinelt (1991) The Performance of Power: Theatrical Discourseand POlitics. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

Ishikawa. K., (Lu. D. J. trans.) (1985). What is Total Quality Control?, Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Copyright 1999 ISEOR
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