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OPERATION ANALYSIS

There are seven terms you will need to know as we explore operation analysis. The terms are: stage, operation, phase, juncture, ordering factor, function and purpose.


STAGES AND OPERATIONS

An operation is a structure changing in time and space. Just as structures are wholes that have parts as parts, operations are wholes that have stages as parts. When we perform an operational analysis, we have a purpose in mind that guides our selection of what we will identify as stages of that operation.

A football game, for example, is an operation consisting of stages such as the first quarter and the second quarter.  The changing structure consists of parts such as the field, the players, the goalposts and the spectators.  The interaction of the parts for a certain period of time is the operation. The interaction of the parts for a unit of the total time is a stage of the operation.

Sending an e-mail message is an operation consisting of stages, such as preparing the message and sending the message.  The changing structure consists of parts such as the messaging program, the message writer, and the transmission lines. The operation is made up of changing parts such as opening the e-mail program, writing the message, and the moving current on the telephone or cable lines.  The stages of the operation are main parts of the total period of change. During the stage of opening the messaging program the computer screen changes but the message sender remains still, as far as writing (or, speaking, or typing) is concerned.  During the writing stage, the person composing the message is engaged, but the transmission lines are not.  Stages are usually characterized by certain sorts of change.  The beginning of a new sort of change marks the beginning of a new stage.  The beginning of a new sort of change marks the beginning of a new stage. 

The words stage and operation signify time-based (temporal) relationships.  Things that we consider operations in one context can be thought of as stages in other situations and vice versa.  For example, sending an e-mail message can be considered one stage of the larger operation of project management....

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