Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Nice website about #Deming : (#lean #systemsthinking #change)

I’ve stumbled on this nice websiote with lots of advocacy for Deming’s work (yes, the quality movement initiator). Have a look at

Moreover, the site also makes the link with Lean and Systems Thinking and advocates for a change in management techniques.

Have a good reading!

When is the last time you reflected on your own management behaviors?

A #systemsthinking explanation of lack of respect for people (fundamental #lean pillar)

I have recently finished reading this excellent paper from Raul Espejo regarding the law of requisite variety: “Giving Requisite Variety to Strategic and Implementation Processes: Theory and Practice“. Espejo is a person to read if you’re interested in the Viable System Model (see corresponding articles on this blog and my delicious bookmarks on VSM) as created by Stafford Beer.

In this paper, Espejo make the stunning comment that (I quote, emphasis mine, excerpted from page 3):

“[…] many organisations are still driven by the hierarchical paradigm that assumes the distinctions made at the top are the only relevant ones, which implies that people at lower levels are there only to implement them, but not to make distinctions of their own. Therefore the assumption is that the complexity of a senior manager is much greater than that of a professional in the production line. Somehow it is assumed that people at the top have much bigger brains than those working at ‘lower’ levels. Since they don’t, the space of creative action at ‘lower levels has had to be reduced. The assumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. This becomes manifest when power is exercised by enforcing distinctions made at corporate levels to construct a limited context of action for the majority in the organisation.”

The last emphasized sentence is insightful for me: “The assumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy”. What is meant is that with top management having a mental model of having bigger brains than people at lower hierarchical levels, they take on more decisions than people below them. This mental model then hinders learning from the very people that top management would probably want to have bigger brain but that they prevent them from developing… Management complains about employees being cogs in the machine, but, because they think they are, they remove every opportunity for them to turn back to being human and use their brain, which makes them further into cogs.

Another case of espoused-theory vs. theory-in-use, I guess.

In Lean, we say that management should act as coaches to their reporting collaborators and don’t give them answers (we even encourage management to let their employees fail in order to learn). It may be slower on the short-term, but probably the best way to grow them and increase productivity and morale in the longer term.

How many times today have you solved someone else’s problem?

I hope you’ll solve less tomorrow…

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?

“Everyone knows the tactics by which I am victorious, but no one knows the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” – Sun Tzu

April 21st, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , ,

I just thought I would post this quote as it’s a great summary of what people are experiencing when trying to “do Lean”.

Tactics are usually the Lean tools people try to implement. Only to discover later that they derailed from their iniative and that their performance has not improved and that people are disabused about one more “program-of-the-month”.

Everybody’s trying to copy Toyota tactics (tools), but few copy its strategy. Yet, it’s written on all their websites (and not hidden like in Sun Tzu quote). Quoting the TMMF (Toyota Motors Manufacturing France) (translating from french) Toyota Way is:

  • Continuous Improvement
    • Challenge
    • Continuous Improvement
    • Genchi Gembutsu (go and see)
  • Respect
    • Respect
    • Team work

How many companies work by these principles? Should you read Toyota Code of Conduct, you’d see that their first principle is “Creating a Harmonious and Lively Work Environment”.

How’s that?!

What is your company #1 value? How’s that explaining your current organization?

Also read somewhere (I think it was on Twitter): What you see is how we think.



#AppreciativeInquiry with Teams: an article by Gervase Bushe – use it for #Lean

Here is a very interesting article I stumbled upon from Gervase Bushe: Appreciative Inquiry with Teams.

The article gives different way of using Appreciative Inquiry with teams to help them solve issues and perform more rapidly (in the case of a newly formed team). Both dos and don’ts are proposed.

I find this paper really interesting in the context of introducing teams to Lean and using some appreciative or positive approach for that purpose (the paper also mentioned some Solution Focused approach, though without naming it).

This is the kind of straightforward and very operational paper that lights your mind and that you know how you could put is to its best use (or give it your best try in order to learn by doing).

Thanks Mr Bushe!


People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it (#TED talk by Simon #Sinek)

March 22nd, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Go check this empowering video available here (and maybe the corresponding book also).

Simon greatly explains that people don’t buy what you do or how you do it, but why you do it.  He also explains that you need to have this in mind in order to cross the chasm to get the vast majority of your niche buy your product.


How to #coach people and get results from your #leadership?

March 18th, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , ,

I love this simple post: Demanding Change: To lead people on a journey …

It elaborates on a simple well known premise:  to lead people, you need to start from where they are (read the rest of the post to know more, then come back here).

But this is regarding the beginning of the path. After starting, there’s sustaining. And then a coach I had a chance to work with once told me the following:

A coachee stops where the coach stops.

And to end with, let me give you a tweet I’ve read:

Change resistance is inversely proportional to your leadership skills.

It hurts, doesn’t it? Well, it did hurt me!

But let me ask you a question.

Imagine you were leading people without them resisting you. What would that mean as to the choosing of the leading direction?


Reblog: Lessons Learned About Building Commitment to #Change

Here is a nice article from Daryl Conner (change thinking): Lessons Learned About Building Commitment to Change | Change Thinking.

I obviously like the article because it appeals to my beliefs, that to change others, you need to change yourself first, which is letting go of strictly controlling the change (or be prepared to deal with resistance – which I don’t call change management but change coercion.)

Don’t try to feed people soup they won’t like but invite them to add their preferred ingredients to the soup, so you’ll all eat it happilly together.

It might not be your preferred soup (but even then, you might be surprised) or the one you wanted in the first place, but a soup that is appreciated by all the ones that need to eat it.

In systems thinking, some say that to change a system, you need to become part of it, otherwise you can’t.

Don’t push #Lean onto #management: #coach them to pull it from you

Morning thought: I occurs to me that Lean consultants (whether internal or external) often try to push a Lean transformation onto management and most often (98% of the time) fail due to so called “change resistance”.

But it’s no wonder people resist when you try to force something onto them.

The paradox here lies in the fact that Lean experts have a detailed vision in mind of how to do it and what the final objective might be (Yeah, I know Lean is a trip and not a destination, but a one piece flow throughout the company makes for a kind of objective for me).

The problem for me is that Lean people try to force management into a vision that they don’t have in mind. Even when it’s an intellectually convincing vision, since it has not been grown inside management’s heads, they won’t accept it.

Aristotle said that to convince someone you need to use (in that order I think):

  • ethos: who you are and what credibility lies in you and your message
  • logos: what you’re going to say and whether it’s logicial and intellectually sound or not
  • pathos: an appeal to the audience’s emotions.

So, to convince people, you need to be credible, be clear in your explanation… and make people feel they want it. Not just need it. You need something from intellect. You want it from emotion. And what’s better than building a vision for creating emotions?

That’s probably why waste walks with a coach/senseï work so well. Or seeing a Lean place (or building a model line if you can) and, more than ever, continually:

  • going to the gemba to see what happen by yourself (second hand reports are intellectual, not emotional unless the reporter is good at storytelling);
  • looking at the process (not just wandering around);
  • talking to the people… just because emotions will come from interacting with others!

So, there’s no need to try to push the whole Lean management system onto management people. It’s complex and overwhelming. Bounded rationality will have them fly away (if not the double-bind you’re creating by doing so).

I think that proper coaching could help management emotionally connect with their people and see how they could help them fix the broken processes they’re trapped into. People love helping and teaching others. Only you need to provide them with the required skilled to do so (skill in the job and skill in teaching/coaching). TWI understood this long time ago. And it’s only when everybody’s started to take care of their work environment that I think you can teach them to connect processes to create a (one-piece) flow.


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