C-37. Functional indicators

How well are we doing? We need to know about performance, need it more often, need it more appropriately - i.e., with greater attention to relevancies.

When circumstances intervene to disrupt our efforts, even to end our lives, this is a tragedy. When we have produced those circumstances, the tragedy is all the greater. When we might have forestalled the emergence of such circumstances … well, this is the human tragedy. We have not come close to solving the behavioral problem (I:Pbeh), of fully realizing humanism (App. VIII), of taking humanism beyond sentiment and noble motivation to a fuller productive capability.

Fundamentally, we have not given behavior and the structure of behavior their due in light of the Nature of Things, with respect to consequentiality per se and to potentially informative particular consequences. There are many pertinent indicators of functionality and dysfunctionality: rates, states and ratios; stops and exits and the reasons for them, plus readability measures in the case of communication messages. These are some of the alternatives to relying on a terminal indicator of success or failure.

Our discussion of EHAC provided a more pragmatic perspective on all this (App. IX), stressing development of increased functionality in and for operating systems (C-36). Functional indicators, of which EHAC is but one (albeit an accessible, general-purpose one) provide aids for any problem solving, necessarily compositional, initiative.

Rates as indicators, of efficiency perhaps better than effectiveness, are very accessible (e.g., time and motion studies). The others, less accessible, need our attention. However, the matter of appropriateness and its lessons for increased effectiveness is our primary concern for all indicators.

Heat and pressure, which are familiar as external circumstances under which performance operates, are also candidates as states (e.g., stress*) internal to performance. Emotion tends to trump cognition: “Kill Hussein!” as a 1990 proposed solution to Middle East problems, for example.

Equilibrium is a state condition which differs for body and step. In both cases, disequilibrium is dysfunctional and needs correction lest it graduate into oscillatory trauma. Easton distinguishes stable equilibrium, that which the body’s physiological system requires, from neutral equilibrium, that which the step as operating system requires. The latter brings up ratios as functional indicators, relative to the balance requisite (XI).

Physiologically, our body can be interpreted as either or both a control system or an operating system (C-36). Our understanding of behavior, however, of making and taking steps has to be seen with respect to our operating system’s neutral equilibrium, to the ratio – and balance – of alternative minding and/or moving acts and actions.

Take educational performance, for example (App. IV). How balanced are educational policy and practice with respect to these ratios: Learning/knowing? Elementary/basic? Adopt/adapt/adept? Particular/general (e.g., behaviors vs. behavior per se)? Efficiency/effectiveness (e.g., “teach to the test”)? Agreement/understanding? Capacity/capability? Product/process? Nature of Things/order of things? Body/step? Evolution/development? Problem solving/decision making? Community/individual? Function /structure? And so on.

In any case of imbalance there is the likelihood that the dynamic aspects of interdependency and complementarity (XI) will be dysfunctional – incompletely realized both in understanding and development. Tragically so, of course, if the independence of the conditions to be balanced is missed and confounded (e.g., basic = elementary).

Then too there is the matter of clogs, of combined imbalances (XI). When these become embedded in procedural tools (App. VII), the clog can become a plug, an impediment (IV) to human progress. (To whose removal we shall next turn [C-38, C-39].) Decline and fall in societies and other systems may owe something to such a growing imbalance clog.

The difficulties we produce for others in our communicatory behavior constitute another group of important functional indicators. We may not get the attention of someone before making a point. We may not give our attention to a point being made to us – while presumably having done so. “Noise,” of one kind or another from either party, may interfere. Such dysfunctionality, if not immediately evident, may soon become embarrassingly apparent (App. IX).

Stops in, and exits from, message attendance can be valuable indicators – if they are apparent or are made manifest. But failing a visible exit or a developmental research technology like signaled stopping they may well not be. The reasons for stopping, both antecedent and consequent (VIII), can be helpful in reducing or removing the dysfunction. (These reasons recall the adage that catching is much more difficult than throwing – in communication as in sports.)

Consequentiality in, and not just of, compositional process (C-16) can only be as good as our functional indicators. Effects inform effectiveness only to the extent that we comprehend as many relevant effects as we can. “Make” and “measure” are – or should be – inseparable tools.

(* There is a potentially large group of conceptual terms which, as now used, might be better viewed as pertaining to step states. They are now customarily seen as attributes of body-and/or body-body relationships, to the neglect of our further developing them (anchoring them theoretically: C-22) as behavioral capabilities and thereby better serving the needs of individual and community – and the cause of humanism. Concepts such as love, trust, reverence and appreciation for example. Even concepts commonly considered body capacities, such as consciousness and intelligence, might usefully be seen – but just for now! –as step states, whatever physiological components also apply, in acknowledgement of the capacity x capability dynamic and the duality of body and step implicit in “behavioral entity.”)

(c) 2012 R. F. Carter