Last month my colleagues and I completed a pilot of what well may be the most interesting project of my life. It was the pilot of a new type of MOOC that pushes the MOOC design envelope by blending a globally transformative platform with an eco-system of deep personal, locally grounded learning communities.
Basically, when I teach A3 thinking to people, I tell them that it’s not about the page format nor is it about a convenient way to display all about an issue on one sheet of paper (though, this is very convenient for sure). The important part about the A3 is hidden when you present it: it’s all the hard work that happened before presentation, when creating it.
In Lean, there’s a term for that, it’s called nemawashi which is about patiently building consensus of all stakeholders around some issue:
- reaching agreement about the problem (and that it’s an important problem to solve now)
- reaching agreement about the root causes
- reaching agreement about possible solutions (more than one as the first one that comes to mind rarely is the most efficient)
- reaching agreement about timing for implementation of experimentation
- reaching agreement about measuring results
- and finally reaching agreement about standardising lessons learned
So, what about all the fuss regarding making the A3 as visual as possible? Because it’s the most efficient way of having people quantify elements of the A3.
Without enforcing graphs or picturization of issue, people will spurt lost and lost of text on their A3, most of which will rely heavily on adjectives like “this is an important issue”, “process X have too much problems”, “we need to produce more parts per people”, etc.
Put a graphic and show the problem, damn it! A problem, in Lean, is a gap between reality and a target! So:
- devise a way to represent the problem (select the kind of graphic that will show the problem, even at a distance, without lengthy explanations)
- measure reality (I mean, quantify it with numbers so you can plot it on your graphic)
- show the target. For this, you have two possibilities: either the customer specifications (quality or delays) or company’s goals (costs, safety)
- it the target’s too far, you might want to first give you a smaller (though a bit stretchy), more attainable goal
What’s important is that the goal or target is NOT arbitrary. It should be based on measures as well. If you aim for 30% defect reduction for instance, it means that you somehow measured the defects, made a Pareto chart, identified what you imagine will be able to tackle in a specific time frame, and chose the corresponding defect sources as improvement goals.
It’s been a while since I’ve been pondering the fifteen properties of wholeness as expressed by Christopher Alexander. Although I have yet to read one of his book, his work has transpired up to me already through the well know pattern languages.
Being found of Systems Thinking and the transdiscplinarity this permits, I couldn’t help but wonder how these 15 properties could apply to mind and mental models as well, and how it could inform our feeling of wholeness or explain when we feel like being one and belonging to a bigger, encompassing one as well. Sounds like spirituality to me, although I consider myself an atheist!
Of course, feeling also attracted to radical constructivism and social constructionism, I can safely affirm that you both are influenced by what you distinguish in the world around you and that you construct what you’re looking for. So, I hope the interpretation I give below (which is purely empirical… or my own construct) may be useful both as a way to construct that feeling of wholeness than as a way to find where it may exist when you didn’t feel it in the first place. Now, back to constructivism: where’s the difference between building and finding-and-constructing at the same time?
Here is my inner travel through the fifteen properties of wholeness. Fancy a trip with me? Here we go… Read more »
It’s with great pleasure that I propose below the first translation of our french leaflet regarding the #labso. That will be the base for the translation of the official website (http://labso.org/) once we find the time to do so.
The source document will be uploaded to some shared repository as soon as possible as well. Meanwhile, feel free to drop us a note if you have comments, requests or else @nicolasstampf or @alexis8nicolas.
Enjoy: QUAD LabSoTech v1.2 EN
I’ve been told a very old study, dated back ni 1948 reported a negative correlation between designing and resisting to a change: the more you participated in designing a change, the less you resisted it.
Of course, we all know this (albeit still try to push our ideas onto others, making them resisting), but knowing it’s really old facts, with measures is really interesting to me.
I don’t have the full paper yet, but below is the information I was given about it. Update: I did finally found it, see bottom of this paper. Thanks to Patrick Hoverstadt for the references!
Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we’re nearing collapse | Cathy Alexander and Graham Turner | @Guardian #systemsthinking
Simple article, effective in sending the message (like others did dozens of year ago). Now, people listen, but they don’t hear.
I love the graphs with superposition of calculated trajectories and real values.
I’ve been a big fan of Dr Derek Cabrera “DSRP” generic systems thinking tool set and approach. Along with Dr Laura Colosi, they developed the concept into a full range of approaches to teach children how to think better: Cabrera Research.
As fan as I may be of theories, I also like a good putting in practice of them, and DSRP comes in just as a handy way of “doing” Systems Thinking, or, as one might put it, “Systems Doing”.
But first, a bit of a reminder of what DSRP is and what it does stand for.
What “DSRP” is
DSRP first appeared, I think, in Dr Derek Cabrera PhD thesis near the end where he studied the different flavors of Systems Thinking (eg. this one) and came to the conclusion that there are now two similar methods or even definitions of what Systems Thinking or how to “do” it in practice. And so he proposed these four letters and the corresponding generic questions (page 170 of the thesis: “The Minimal Concept Theory of Systems Thinking (MCT/ST)”):
- D stands for “Distinctions”: what something IS and IS NOT, given the fact that once you decide one, you de facto decide the other as well. Incidentally, this looks like what George Spencer-Brown also does with his initial distinction being perfect continence (in “Laws of Form“) – I’ll come to this below
- S stands for “Systems”: what it is COMPOSED OF, and what it is A PART OF
- R stands for “Relations”: what it IS CONNECTED TO, and what IT CONNECTS TO (seeing the thing as a relation)
- and lastly P stands for “Perspectives”: what does the things BRINGS as a perspective, and what OTHER perspective can be considered to look at the thing.
What I propose is that we make some little change to the order of the four letters because I feel like there’s a progression in them and that some other view might be more natural, if not powerfully generative.
Moving from DSRP to DRSP
I just propose we switch the S and R to make that DRSP. Although the four letter indeed, in my mind, form a system to build system in one’s own mind, I find it works better the following way. Beside, I’m not sure Dr Cabrera had a specific order in mind when he proposed it. Here how it goes for me:
- First, there’s a general Distinction, which makes it clear what is the thing, and what “other” is with respect to that thing. From a 1st order systems thinking, we can stick to that simple explanation, but from a 2nd order perspective (the one that takes the observing observer into consideration) we must remember that a specific perspective is at play behind that initial distinction, something George Spencer-Brown himself seemed to introduce in his later updating of Laws of Form, in some annexes with the re-entrant principles.
- Then, once that initial Distinction has been made, there’s a necessary Relationship established between One and Other, because of the distinction (the mark) between them.
- And here we just pause now (that is, without pursuing our Distinctions of the initial element or of the relationship itself), then we can say we have a System, made of the One and the Other, connected through their Relationship.
Now, we continue our investigation, and surely enough, some other Distinctions will be made, along with the drawing of Relationships between the new ones and the preceding ones, whether they are at the same level or at a lower (distinction of an element into smaller entities, giving visibility to a smaller sub-system) and bigger ones (identification of a super-system). Lastly, once the initial investigation is finished, we have:
- an overall Perspective represented by the whole DRSP analysis we have. It’s now then time, of course, to question all elements of it (DR&S) and see if each one might not bring new insights to further refine the picture, and also ask other people what their own individual perspective might want to have added to the picture. Hint: inviting stakeholders of the issue or system modelled is always a good idea…
So here we are now with a beginning of a method to “apply and use DRSP”. Ask questions about each one of the four letters to build and refine a system of interest. When the work is finished, it’s still possible to consider the whole as an element in itself and ask: if this element is a Distinction, what is Other? What relation stands between this One and Other? And of course, there will be a final time when it will be worth considering the question: whatever Other there is, we decide we stop there and will work out a solution or whatever needs to happen for the modelled system from only the component we brought forth through our DRSP questioning.
So, of course, there are a huge number of systems thinking methods, all of them featuring advantages, some even trying to unify the field (like in Michael C. Jackson’s Creative Holism for Managers: Total Systems Intervention) but not all are (IMHO) as easy to use as Dr Cabrera’s. So when you need to answer that spontaneous question “But how do you do systems thinking?”, now you have a simple 4 letters, easy to memorize, approach.
The Fallacy of the ‘Digital Native’: Why Young People Need to Develop their Digital Skills via @ECDLFoundation
Very interesting and short article here (PDF).
Young people are not as digital native as we thought them to be.
This is frightening because its seems that although they can use technology to some extent, they don’t make the most of it and fall short of being able to fully understand, yet repair it.
We (the generations before) probably too quickly assumed they would catch up, when in fact they didn’t. We’re more and more digging a pit between them and us. We forgot to educate them or, our education didn’t caught up with our own technology.
What are possible paths forward? I can see some:
- have education catch up with current advances of the technology: MOOCs are a way to do that, but how many people really use them and succeed at them? How can we know better?
- slow down innovation: as dumb as this idea may appear at first, I think this is what might happen naturally when the current developpers and startuppers will retire. But will we be able to catch up on education? Or will the next generations be too busy surviving in a devastated Earth because we didn’t took care of it in time, mostly because we were too busy playing with our very technology?
- make a forward UX leap (User eXperience) and make technology far more accessible and usable than it is now. From a Lean UX perspective, if you need to educate someone to a technology, what does it says about that usability?