Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Revue du livre “La pratique du #Lean Management dans l’IT”

April 5th, 2013 Posted in Change, Lean Tags: , , , ,

J’ai lu avec beaucoup d’intérêt le livre collectif “La pratique du Lean Management dans l’IT“.

Travaillant moi-même dans l’IT et le Lean, je connais plusieurs versions de ce qu’on appelle “le Lean”, et dans l’IT, tout ne se passe pas toujours très bien (ne me lancez pas sur les causes profondes de ces échecs, j’en aurai pour des heures!)

Ce livre, sans être une bible de référence sur le sujet (ce que les auteurs n’avaient je pense pas l’intention de faire), démontre comment il est :

  1. facile de faire du Lean dans l’IT ;
  2. possible d’obtenir rapidement d’impressionnants résultats ;
  3. possible de placer et conserver les gens au centre de la démarche.

En effet, beaucoup de démarches déploient une forme de Lean en mode “command & control” ce qui d’une part est une hérésie en matière de gestion du changement et d’autre part n’est tout simplement pas du Lean.

Point de tout cela ici. Le livre est très clair sur les manières de faire, limpides sur les raisons de faire ce qui a été fait, et les histoires rapportées (nombreuses et éclairantes) apportent un vrai plus.

Relativement court, le livre devrait permettre à tout bon manager IT de se décider à se lancer dans le Lean management, pour peu qu’il veuille bien aider ses collaborateurs à sortir des difficultés dans lesquelles le système les a enfermés au fil du temps…

Un must à lire !

My @leanpub book “The Colors of #Change” has started its publication!

Details are available on the page over there: or from here (a bit more complete).

Subtitle is “Respectful Change Management explained by Cybernetics”.

Check it out!

#Toyota, #Respect for #People (or “Humanity”) and #Lean — Lean Blog

March 5th, 2013 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Mark Graban did a very nice recollection of posts on Respect for People and what it means in Lean after John Seddon comment on it being ‘horse sh*t’. Here’s the article: Toyota, Respect for People (or “Humanity”) and Lean — Lean Blog.

I would add my 2 cents here by saying that respect not only is everyday showing of a nice attitude to people (also known as “politeness”), but also a longer term view of the thing where we want people to be part of a great work place (safe and interesting) and that their work has meaning.

  • So to maintain the interesting and the meaningful parts of the job, we remove waste (mura (uneveness), muda (non added value) and muri (burden)) to focus on added value.
  • And to ensure that it’s done properly (not from a manager in his ivory tower) and to develop people’s intelligence, we have the people do kaizen (continuous improvement) themselves.

Is that too difficult to understand?!


Stop investigate solutions, start to gather the world! #stwg #systemsthinking

Stop looking for solutions, start to gather the worldThe problem situation

I love solving problems. Moreover, I also love finding solutions and making scaffolding theories. Yet, I feel there’s a big problem behind such tendencies: the more you work at a solution on your own, the more prefect it seems to be, then the more resistance you’re probably going to generate when you go out to the world for implementing your solution. Here’s why.

On the diagram on the right, start at the “Pressing problem” part and follow the arrows.

  • First the R1 loop (for Reinforcing). This really looks like what you’re all trying to do: you have (good!) solutions, and try to make people adhere to them. I think it’s mostly doomed to fail. The problem entices you to think about a solution which you will mostly want to advocate, thereby triggering a conflict with people’s different world views (because they haven’t got a change to think to your problem themselves), which more probably will result in others rejecting the solution you pushed onto them, thereby lowering the chances that actions are taken to solve the initial problem, in the end, making the problem all the more pressing.
  • The R2 loop is similar, only that is goes through your working out the solution increasing your own conviction that it’s a good one (because you’re adapting your mind to it).
  • The R3 loop is what prevents the whole system to come to a solution that would suit each and every one of us. continuing from the conviction that your solution is a good one, you (maybe unconsciously) decrease your willingness to give time to others to contribute to your building a solution, meaning that they indeed won’t work in a commonly built solution, indeed decreasing the chances (or number) of commonly built solutions, which adds up to the lack of actions taken to solve the problem, thereby making the problem a pressing one.

How to change that situation?

My intuition is that we should redirect energy flowing from the “pressing problem” to “thinking about a solution” (dotted blue arrow) directly to “others participate in a commonly built solution” (the green dotted arrow, mostly non existent at the time, or so it seems to me?). Doing such an action would suppress R1 and R2 loops and R3 would be shortened and more importantly replaced by a Balancing loop, meaning the more you work on a commonly built solution, the less there will be pressing problems.

A global organization to support commonly built solutions

The reflection above came out of a context related to finding global solutions to world pressing problem (mostly in the SEE fields: Social, Economical and Ecological). The Commons is all but one of the concepts meant at addressing these global issues. I’m not saying Management of the Commons is a bad solution. Indeed I even think of the opposite. But I think people working on such a solution should also start worrying about how they would have their solution adopted by lay people at a global level.

Here’s one of many web pages discussing the concept of the commons: Growing the Commons as Meta-narrative?

So, how to create that green dotted arrow, for me, is through a worldwide helping/supporting organization (be it the United Nations or else) that would facilitate concrete resolution of problems locally, regionally and globally. That would necessitate some efficient and practical means of communication between all levels top down and also on horizontal levels, between different fields: for instance, you need the ecologists trying to preserve some local pond to exchange with the nearest city officials, with business shareholders that want to build their industries near the pond, some people representatives that want both a green environment and some work to live decently, etc.

Fortunately, principles on how to organize such an organization do exist in the form of the Viable System Model for organizations as presented by Stafford Beer. What’s still lacking is an efficient model of communication, though in bootstrapping such an organization, currently existing forums, Facebook pages, Wikis and syndicated blogs would probably be do the trick.

To put it shortly and bluntly: the more people will think of a solution, the less chances are that it will become a reality.
(unless you can fund and implement it without the help of others, of course, but since we’re talking of a world-wide problem, it’s just impossible).

Happiness reigns: meet Laurence Vanhée (@happy_laurence)

February 21st, 2013 Posted in Strengths Tags: , , , , , ,

Here’s a very good article on Happiness at work in Belgium. Laurence is also on Twitter.

Read the article here: Happiness reigns: meet Laurence Vanhée. I love this:

I believe in 5 dondoos to change our workplace :

  • Don’t Manage. Love
  • Don’t work. Have fun
  • Don’t think. Think green
  • Don’t complain. Innovate
  • Don’t motivate. Trust

What a program!

Why we learn more from our successes than our failures – MIT News Office

Here’s a nice paper that explains why rewarding the positive is more effective than pointing out failures: Why we learn more from our successes than our failures – MIT News Office.

So I’m now positively rewarded to continue rewarding the positive!


Reblog: How Do You Get Leaders to #Change? – Chief Learning Officer, Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Here’s a nice article on How Do You Get Leaders to Change? – Chief Learning Officer, Solutions for Enterprise Productivity.

I especially like the end of the paper about coaching and asking questions.

Indeed, when we’re told something, there are high chances that it comes to collide with some of our beliefs or mental model (because we make sense of what we’re told with our own past experience, and that often means we mis-interpret what others are saying).

On the other hand, when asked question, we are forced to bridge the gap between where we stand (our current mental model) and what the other is trying to say. A question isn’t as explicit as a statement when it comes to expressing a perspective. So when asked a question, although we feel that some perspective is at play behind the question, we’re let with space which we can feel however we want, thus bridging the gap between our own mental model and that of the questioner.

Whatever your conviction when it comes to how people resist to change, I think we all admit that it’s hard to resist to a question (though, sometimes we might end up affirming that a question is meaningless. Yet, this is an opportunity for dialogue and explaining why we think so. So even in this case, the exchange and gap-bridging occurs, from the askee or asker).

No wonder Socrates asked questions! 🙂


Motivating novices through positive feedback and experts through negative feedback (a #SolutionFocus paper mentioned by Coert Visser @DoingWhatworks)

I would like to comment on the paper mentioned above (thanks Coert!). This is interesting, and I find that there’s commonality behind what’s appear as opposites (positive & negative feedback).

Indeed, my first shot was that there is a difference between someone who feels Competent with respect to some learning and someone who doesn’t. I’m using here Competent as in Self-Determination Theory that basically says that intrinsic motivation comes out of promoting Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness (thanks to @Coert for bring it to my radar, BTW).

So, if you’re pointing problems to a beginner, you’re just undermining both their sense of competence and autonomy.

It then seems to me that it all depends on whether someone thinks he’s competent (or autonomous) with respect to some knowledge or skill, or not. So, before feeling competent, you’d need to grow their intrinsic motivation (by praising their hard acquired competence and autonomy), and when they think they’ve come to some kind of expertise, then bringing that kind of positive feedback is just acknowledging the obvious to them and thus not working anymore.

And then for experts (or people who think they are), pointing to problems (gaps between perfection and where they stand) make the unobvious obvious. And if these people are willing to close the gap, then they might want to work on that gap.

I told in the beginning that there was a common principle. Here it is IMHO: it’s about what Gregory Bateson called Information. If you don’t bring information to someone, he won’t act (of course). But if you do, he might react to it.

And what did Bateson called Information? He called Information “a difference that makes a difference”.

So, to someone who thinks he’s a beginner, you point the difference with the beginner: that he’s better than that. To an expert that knows already he’s not a beginner anymore, talking of where he is doesn’t bring information. You’re not stating a difference in his mental model. But if you’re pointing to an unseen difference between his perceived expertise level and some kind of objective/better expertise level, then that is information to him, and he might work on it.

Now the problem is: how can we know where someone think he is on that scale of expertise? Well maybe that Solution Focus scale might come to help here. But then we would need another discussion about how to move up the scale: root cause analyse the gap (no way!) or find times where the gap’s sometimes smaller, and what is done at these times, and do more of it (yes).

Also, furthering the Solution Focus approach to help that expert improve, it might help to ask him about what does he wants more of. Because one can think that although he might be considered an expert when it comes to generalities about some field, he might himself doesn’t agree with that and/or think that inside the field there are some areas where he feels like a beginner.

So in the end, the difference that can make a difference mostly comes out right to someone when the person is giving hints as to where it might be.

Only when someone’s expertise claim to be encompassing might we bring to the table other mental models or situation that the so-called expert might have problems to solve. Indeed, who said one mind has the requisite variety (Wikipedia) to handle two (or more)? No one, for sure as 1 never equaled 1+1.


Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! | #Video on @TED

This is the most hilarious, serious and extraordinatry video I’ve seen in quite some time on how to change the world and help people.

Drop whatever you’re doing at the moment, and look at it now (less than 20 minutes).

That video speaks about helping people, listening, entrepreneurship, creating successful organizations, making people thrive, and hippos. Yes, hippos.

To me, Ernesto Sirolli holds the keys to successful Lean turnovers… or whatever else is needed by the people that want to thrive in their lives and work.

Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! | Video on


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