Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Using Motivational Interviewing to elicit change under constraint (#change #lean @biggerplate #mindmap)

I’ve just finished a wonderful ebook on “Motivational Interviewing in Probation” (see my links on my delicious account) and it appeared to me that this skill may very well be suited for Lean Coaches when they don’t have the opportunity to coach top management but are asked to “do Lean” in the company.

Most of the time, managers are asked to “do Lean” and this very request triggers their change resistance upon arrival of the loca Lean expert (coach). As each managers may be on a different stage of the change model (see my previous article on Stages of Change Model), the coach should be addressing each of them differently. This mindmap explains how.

Use your new MI skills to achieve that and tell me how it works. Warning: it may look easy, but it’s some hard and live intellectual work. But who said Lean was easy anyway? 🙂

See the uploaded MI on Probation mindmap on Biggerplate here.

Increasing your change management skills with Motivational Interviewing (a new #mindmap on @biggerplate)

I just uploaded this mindmap on BiggerPlate here.

MI is an ecological way to elicit change motivation and action in people that may have been resisting it in the first place. A perfect skill to master, IMHO, for any change leader or change agent (including Lean management!).

Best of all, it fits very well with Solution Focus, as I have already said previously.

What have you done recently to help people around you accept change?

Can #Lean be helped by Self-Determination Theory and #SolutionFocus? (a @doingwhatworks paper)

From that very interesting (as is most often the case from Coert Visser!) paper here, I derive the following insights:

Lean on the motivation continuum

Self -Determination Theory (SDT) has is that motivation can be expressed on a continuum from “amotivation” to “intrinsic motivation” with three basic human needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness (all things that are also found in Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs and the notion of Flow from Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi).

Lean appears to be well on these three pillars of motivation:

  • autonomy is high in an environment where management does not solve the problem of their collaborators, but instead coach them to resolution.
  • this coaching leads to increased competence on the work and on the process of continuous improvement itself, along with a better knowledge of how the organization works (through A3 problem solving for instance which fosters nemawashi – japanese term for: go see all stakeholders and work with them)
  • by doing nemawashi with all stakeholders, people get their relatedness level increased!

On motivating people to do Lean

Visser’s paper continues, on page 13, on the way Motivational Interviewing can help a professionnal helper (!) with their client, as would be the case of a Lean coach in any organization (please bear in mind that I talk of a coach, not a consultant whose approach is different). In this regard, MI is based on 4 general principles:

  • the expression of empathy
  • the development of discrepancy
  • rolling with resistance and
  • support for self-efficacy

Considering what I often saw in organizations with respect to Change and Lean more specifically, I’d say that:

  • Lean change approaches are often law on empathy: “all your problems are belong to us, we’ll you help solve them”,
  • with a development of discrepancy that more than often consist in management or co-called coaches finger pointing faults in those running the processes,
  • a rolling with resistance that consists of stomping it for it’s the proof of ignorance in Lean matters and that so-called Lean coaches and experts know better (which is indeed true as for Lean things, but blatantly false  with respect to people’s own Gemba),
  • and support of efficacy is most of the time seen as Lean consultants (whoops I should have said ‘coaches’ 😉 doing most of the job themselves (deciding on what the Future State Map for instance should look like) with only partial accounting for people’s ideas.

What I described above, though caricatural (or is it?) is still what’s even been given a name: L.A.M.E. (Lean As Misguidedly Executed).

The paper goes on starting from page 14 on some suggested questions to addresse the four principles above to move someone in the needed change direction, but with proper respect for their motivation and of them as people, by helping find how they could be engaged with the change initiative.

Reflection questions:

  • As a CEO, how engaged are your collaborators in the Lean initiative? What have you done to motivate them and engage them, as persons, in it?
  • As a Lean coach, how have you addressed management’s willing to do Lean? What questions did you asked them as for their own needed change with respect to Lean (that is, Lean should be done by management with collaborators, not to collaborators)?

Autonomy dynamic model (#systemsthinking from @doingwhatworks article)

SD Analysis of Autonomy

SD Analysis of Autonomy

Reading Coert Visser’s blog post “People prefer to choose for themselves what they initiate and they want to control as much as possible what they do“, I decided to give it a shot at modelling what comes to my mind using my preferred tool of choice: Vensim.

The first analytical thinking through a problematic autonomy situation would be that people’s desire and actions to increase their autonomy is motivated by Others’ action. “Their faulty behavior against me motivates and authorizes my reacting to it“.

Of course, from the view point of others, the same thing happen with us (‘A‘ in the attached diagram).

So, although each actions from A or other tend to reach an equilibrium toward one’s own autonomy desired level (loops B1 and B2), the connection between actions (center of picture, R1) creates an overall reinforcing dynamical structure where A and Others are competing for their autonomy levels. In the end, it’s more than probable that all will loose: a typical loose-loose situation resulting from a “win-loose” mental model.

So, I added, as a proposed solution, that an overall external loop (in dotted lines on the diagram) be added where A and Others exchange on their similar desire to achieve some autonomy, and do listen to and respect the corresponding desire of the partner. In doing so, they might lower their desired autonomy level but in the mean time counter balance the negative and reinforcing loop of their action and we could hope that they reach some form of win-win equilibrium.

That solution can only exist if Dialogue is possible between A and Others.

How are you communicating about problematic situations in your organization? Do you talk them through or do you complain, finger point to one another and stick to phone and mail to fire reactive actions to one another?


#Change Resistance as viewed from a #systemsthinking point of view

Thinking to that well talked about subject (232,000 results in google for “Chance Resistance” – quoted included), I decided to give it a shot… The result if the image below (click on it to zoom it).

Systems Dynamics view of Change resistance

Systems Dynamics view of Change resistance

You start in the upper right corner: there a change needed and a suspected resistance to change from the system that needs to be changed. So, the change plan is devised without too much involving the soon-to-be impacted people, to avoid raising their resistance to change. The result, once the change plan is rolled on, is double: a lack of requisite variety of the plan to the impacted people and their local situation and a feeling that everything’s been already decided. Both feelings generate some form of resistance (active in the first case, passive in the second, a form of hopelessness). They add up to form an actual change resistance. This actual resistance then confirms the supposed change resistance and also the measures taken to prevent further resistance.

In the end, this is a nice reinforcing loop or self-fulfilling prophecy.

What can be done to it? Well, a short answer could be to kill the loop by not assuming that there is resistance to change AND do whatever is necessary not to raise this resistance:

  • involve soon-to-be impacted people as early as possible so they can own the process
  • and involve them so they can adapt the required change to their specific variety so that the change is assured to be will fitted to the system to be change

Don’t be afraid of change resistance: just don’t awake it yourself!


Reblog: DOING WHAT WORKS: Perspective change

Another short and nice article by Coert Visser about question that helps develop a Systems Thinking view of a situation in the mind of the person being asked: DOING WHAT WORKS: Perspective change.

The article doesn’t mentioned systems thinking, this is my link of the tswo subjects, but SF is deeply rooted in the field, so it’s no wonder the roots diffused to the core.


Reblog: DOING WHAT WORKS: Effective questions for helping and providing direction

Here is a very interesting article from Coert Visser about leading people by asking questions: DOING WHAT WORKS: Effective questions for helping and providing direction.

Also, follow the inner link to “Constructive and Activating Management Techniques” on the same topic.

Telling is straightfoward and not helping people learn. Indeed, people just take what you say and either accept or reject it. Of course, some rare people are able to say things crafted in such a way that it makes people think deeply about it and help them get insights about whatever it is that the discussion is about. Milton Erickson comes to mind for instance.

For the more mundane people like me, asking questions is a way to gently push people to think about an issue and by this way step by step creating in their mind a systemic representation of what you’re trying to get through to them. “What else?” is for instance a powerful yet simple question that fosters deep thinking (used in Systems Thinking or Solution Focus).

Socrates used this a lot of course, but it somewhat had not benefitted him 😉

What else are you using to make people stop-and-think?

How come #systemsthinking discussions diverge so often?

Pondering on the often out of topic discussions on the LinkedIn Group Systems Thinking World, I came up to this diagram during coffee with colleagues. I guess they’re not going to take coffee with me anytime soon :-/

As you can see, there are only reinforcing loops. The sole balancing loop is in fact preventing the initial topic from being further investigated. The explanation goes something as follow:

  • B1: when the initial topic is discussed, it triggers comments from people given their personal centers of interest, which of course, because the centers of interest are so different, this makes the discussion diverges, which reduces the focus on the initial topic.
  • R1: this first reinforcing loop describes the fact that the more there is divergence in the discussion, the more this triggers further personal centers of interest being mentioned in the discussion, which makes the discussion diverges further and thus make more people to react.
  • R2: Sometimes, someone in the discussion tries to come back to the initial topic, though, most often, through some personal path. So we have a new path which can trigger further comments from other personal topics of interest (I did not show that the new path, although related to the initial topic, could trigger other centers of interest – this is embedded in the new description of the initial topic; a case of fixe the fails, I think).
  • R3: the comments from different personal centers of interest increase the systems thinking view of things (provided there has been some initial interest, but even then, interest can be awaken), which reinforces the link to other centers of interest, which further the comments from different points of view. This loop somewhat describes the self-reinforcing curiosity of systems thinkers.
  • R4 shows the fact that these other centers of interest can also add to the divergence in the mind of the people participating in the discussion

Hopefully, some group rules are being researched that could help in maintaining a discussion going in the initial intended discussion (create a web place where regular summaries of the discussions could be posted, do some Dialogue Mapping, perhaps using InsightMaker which added this functionality just recently).

Change method: Vision, Dialogue, Results

In this very first article, I would like to introduce you to some change methodology that I have encountered while researching the topic on Internet. I find it blissfully simple, yet powerful and embedding concepts that root into strength-based approaches such as Appreciative Inquiry or The World Café.

That “change method”, should we give it a name is based on a simple approach:

  1. Establish a Vision of where you would like the organization to be
  2. Foster a Dialogue of what needs to be done to get to that vision
  3. Promote quick Results to sustain enthusiasm


By Vision, it is meant a powerful description of a highly desired state to be in. That vision should be given in the present tense, as if it were already attained. I’m not sure the original work I drew this mentioned it (I’ve lost the link), but I must add that a co-created vision seems to be a must. Indeed, a vision decided by top management only can only get you so far: people rarely feel motivated by others’ vision, unless maybe the vision holder is skilled enough to articulate it in vivid language. But the most effective way to transmit a vision is to let people co-build it themselves in their mind.

There are plenty of ways you can find on Internet which may help you co-build a vision. These methods usually also take the next point into consideration by involving the whole system (organization) in the co-design of it and have it emerge from the complexity of all stakeholders being present at the same time. The World Café, Theory U, Appreciative Inquiry just to name a few seem interesting to me!


By Dialogue, we’re referring to an exchange of ideas in the style of David Bohm. That way of exchanging with each others is also mentioned in Peter Senge seminal work on Systems Thinking “The Fifth Discipline”. That kind of Dialogue needs two conditions to occur:

  • deeply listening to others’ ideas to understand them ;
  • suspending one’s own judgement as one could suspend something to a rope, for others to consider and analyse

That way, people are able to non-judmentally consider each others’ opinions and enrich their own by them. There’s respect and humility in this, for sure.


By praising quick results, one encourages the continuation of the work that would lead to realization of the vision. I’d personally link this strength-based approaches (such as Appreciative Inquiry of which I’ll talk more on this blog) which tries to inquire into what works and ways of doing more of it. To prevent exhaustion of people working toward the vision, it is necessary to maintain their enthusiasm, and Vision associated with results is a must for this. Plus, it requires personal involvement of top management for this, which is a motivation in itself for employees.

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