Pattern of 14-Foldness as an Implicit Organizing Principle for Governance?


Anthony Judge | Laetus in Praesens – TRANSCEND Media Service

Web Resources


18 Oct 2021 – The case for the following search of web resources follows from two similar investigations undertaken previously (Checklist of 12-fold Principles, Plans, Symbols and Concepts: web resources, 2011; Requisite 20-fold Articulation of Operative Insights? Checklist of web resources on 20 strategies, rules, methods and insights, 2018).

Web searches were undertaken to determine the extent to which a 14-fold pattern was used to organize information of relevance to any form of governance. Typically the search key, using Google or Bing, was for “14 X”, where X could be any of the following: points, pillars, phases, stages, commandments, principles, articles, guidelines, or steps. A few other sources were used, notably Wikipedia and Listverse. The results have been roughly clustered below by theme (rather than by X).

A key question is how the individual results are to be interpreted, and which could be provisionally set aside as not immediately helpful to the later commentary (to follow). Possible interpretations include:

  1. use of 14 is simply arbitrary and similar results would be available for similar themes using 12, 13, 15 or 16, for example
  2. use of 14 as a propaganda slogan, as with its value to white-supremacists (Fourteen Words)
  3. use of 14 as derived from traditional symbolism, possibly as some form of imitation of its use in mythology
  4. use of 14 as a consequence of preoccupation with numerology, cyphers and gematria, possibly following from the previous point
  5. use of 14 as primarily imitative of use of that number in related literature on a theme
  6. use of 14 as derived from 2×7, given the greater attention that has been given to use of that number
  7. use of 14 as implying in some manner a sense of closure, namely the completion of a set — typically in the absence of explanation of how it constitutes completion (in contrast with lesser or greater numbers)
  8. use of 14 as follows from well-studied sets of constraints, typically informed by mathematics

The primary interest is in the last two possibilities (7 and 8), with some sense of how insights into closure may have informed traditional thinking, namely (3). As a number greater than those which it follows (7 to 13), a key question is how any closure of the set of 14 is comprehended, since the ability to recall with ease any of the elements of a set between 7 and 13 decreases progressively. This has been the subject of considerable commentary with respect to a classic paper on the number 7 (George A. Miller, The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: some limits on our capacity for processing information, Psychological Review. 63, 1956, 2).

Under what conditions does 14 “work” — or is believed to do so — and why? This question can obviously be asked of the set of 16+1 Sustainable Development Goals, and of the results of the similar exercise with regard to sets of 20 indicated above.

Through clustering the sets roughly by theme (despite a degree of overlap), this clearly focuses the question as to how a set of 14 may be held to be especially relevant to the particular domain

Checklist of 14-fold patterns

Management: It is somewhat remarkable to note the importance attaached in this domain to a set of 14 management principles, especially since they are the basis for the operation of (at least two) highly successful multinational corporations. There is obviously an extensive literature on the theory and principles of management and those who have been most influential in their articulation (Reginald L. Bell, et al, An Examination of Diferences between the most influential Management Books of the 20th Century and Amazon best sellers, December 2016; Sagar Ub, Five Faces of Management: Taylor, Fayol, Mayo, Deming, Drucker, 2015).

Somewhat intriguing is the early articulation in French by Henri Fayol (14 Management Principles; Carl A. Rodrigues, Fayol’s 14 principles of management then and now: a framework for managing today’s organizations effectively, Management Decision, 39, 2001, 10). This was followed by the seemingly independent articulation of Edward Deming (A. Lyes: Deming’s 14 Principles: what do they mean for today’s business, LinkedIn, 6 January 2015; Deming’s 14-Point Philosophy: a recipe for total quality, MindTools; Nabil Tamimi, et al. Assessing the Psychometric Properties of Deming’s 14 Principles (Quality Management Journal, 2, 1995, 3).

It is less evident whether efforts have been made to reconcile the two sets, or whether the later could be considered as inspired by the former. Also less evident is exactly to what degree one or both influence the 14-fold articulation of the principles of the multinationals in question:

There is ongoing debate regarding the relationship and relevance to Six Sigma as a set of techniques and tools for process improvement. Six Sigma projects follow two project methodologies, inspired by Deming’s Plan–Do–Study–Act Cycle, each with five phases. A six sigma process is one in which 99.99966% of all opportunities to produce some feature of a part are statistically expected to be free of defects. Lean management and Six Sigma share similar methodologies and tools, including the fact that both were influenced by Japanese business culture. However, lean management primarily focuses on eliminating waste through tools that target organizational efficiencies while integrating a performance improvement system, while Six Sigma focuses on eliminating defects and reducing variation:

Entrepreneurship / Organzation: Far less evident is the extent to which any set of 14 “management principles” influenced, or were adapted and applied more generally, as indicated below:

Leadership: Clearly there is a degree of overlap between “management” and “entreprenurship” and the qualities associated with leadership, but it is unclear how this is framed by recognition of a set of 14 principles, as in the following:

Policy / Governance: The 14-fold articulation in the previous examples could be undestood as translating into understandings of strategic articulation and goverancne, especially in the public domain:

Sustainability / Environment: Especially relevant at this time is the strategic focus on sustainability and the manner in which a 14-fold articulation is favoured:

Ethics / Justice: Usefully recognized as a social complement to the economic preoccupations of sustainability, a 14-fold articulation is also somewhat surprisingly evident:

Religion / Spirituality / Symbolism: Any recognition of the relevance of a 14-fold articulation in this domain is necessarily controversial for many, although fundamental for some as the basis of the articulation of human values and principles. It is somewhat curious that even the recognition of a religious organization has been articulated in a 14-fold pattern (14-Point Criteria for a Religious Organization; BRAFB Guide for Church Qualification, 2015):

Health: It might well be assumed that the integrative preoccupation of health would depend on a systemic understanding of some kind — making it somewhat curious to note the extent to which a 14-fold pattern is deemed variously appropriate:

Knowledge / Data / IT: This domain could be recognized as a particular expression — through information — of strategic organization, order and management:

Education / Communication: Any 14-fold pattern of organization, as understood above, might be expected to call for a 14-fold articulation of its communication — and how it is rendered comprehensible:

Design: Arguably an underlying factor in many of the domains above is an understanding of design and architecture (generally and metaphorically understood):

Rules: Various collections of rules follow a 14-fold pattern, distinct from the particular reference to “rule of 14” in some games (bridge bidding):

Miscellaneous: The following disparate examples of 14-fold recognition are especially useful in that they are indicative of domains in which a lesser number of phases or stages is more conventionally recognized, raising the question as to why the more complex 14-fold pattern may be preferred by some:


Anthony Judge is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and mainly known for his career at the Union of International Associations (UIA), where he has been Director of Communications and Research, as well as Assistant Secretary-General. He was responsible at the UIA for the development of interlinked databases and for publications based on those databases, mainly the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, the Yearbook of International Organizations, and the International Congress Calendar. Judge has also personally authored a collection of over 1,600 documents of relevance to governance and strategy-making. All these papers are freely available on his personal website Laetus in Praesens. Now retired from the UIA, he is continuing his research within the context of an initiative called Union of Imaginable Associations. Judge is an Australian born in Egypt, a thinker, an author, and lives in Brussels. His TMS articles may be accessed HERE. (Wikipedia)

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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