The identification and diagnosis of problems can occur at any control level — strategic, tactical, or operational.

The function of management is to plan and control activities and resources at all levels of control. Problems or their symptoms can occur at any level of control, therefore it is necessary to identify and define them clearly and precisely at whatever level they are detected. A fire may start in a building from a smouldering cigarette stub, from being struck by lightning, or by being hit by a crashing aircraft. In every case the eventual effect may be the same although the causes are completely different. The immediate problem is not the cigarette, the thunderstorm, or the air crash — it is that the building is burning, and how to put out the fire. Clearly the problem could have been avoided by prohibiting smoking, installing smoke detectors, fitting lightning conductors, or moving to a building outside the aircraft flight path. However, considering such matters whilst the building is burning down is bad management. What is required is a clear definition of the problem, and the resources, activities, and controls necessary to solve it. Attention can be directed later to solving the longer term strategic problems.

Control Level

In Aesop’s Fable an astronomer fell down a well whilst walking along and looking up at the stars. He called for help from a neighbour. The neighbour said that it was sad that whilst the astronomer spent all his time looking at the position of the stars (strategical) he failed to see the ground beneath his feet, — which was why he did not see the well (tactical) and fell down (operational).

Inspect the Glossary
Examine the Case Study
View the site
Discover the next step
Explore the book
 Return     Home