Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
Home » Posts tagged 'learning' (Page 3)

#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?!


Site officiel de l’Association Française Edwards #Deming

Je viens de trouver ce site. Fantastique ! Avec pas mal d’articles disponibles en français sur le sujet (management par les statistiques… intelligemment). On y trouve aussi quelques logiciels en français et gratuits pour effectuer ces statistiques (je ne les ai pas testés).

Site officiel de l’Association Française Edwards Deming.


#Napkin Introduction to #SystemsThinking (thanks to @dan_roam!)

February 25th, 2013 Posted in Systems Thinking Tags: , , , , ,

system nature qualitativeWith the huge threads on the LinkedIn group “Systems Thinking World” about “what is systems thinking?” or “how to teach systems thinking?”, I thought something ought to be done. Yet, I found most introductions to ST to be quite daunting, so, equipped with my new knowledge of Dan Roam‘s Napkin Academy, I decided to give it a shot.

What follow are three slide decks introducing Systems Thinking using small drawings. Having been impressed by the “DSRP framework” by Dr Calbrera and Dr Colosi, I decided to use that as building blocks to introduce systems thinking.

If you’re interested enough to know more on the field, then there are a vast amount of literature in the field, although finding your own path is as much a learning journey as walking that path.

Should I be pressed to give names, I would recommend the following to go further:

  • If you’re a bit short on money but have quite some time to spend because of the size of the beast, then Systems Wiki is Gene Bellinger‘s constant striving to make ST clearer and more accessible from a wide variety of perspectives. The web site comes with a lot of text, videos, diagrams & simulation : it’s free and very wide in its addressing of Systems Thinking, no counting its daily updates of course. If you’re looking to other courses on the net, it’s the place where to start as well.
  • Peter Senge’s “The Fifth Discipline” is the book that is most often cited as to what set people in motion on the path to being a systems thinker. Just beware that it mostly reflects one “school” of systems thinking (systems dynamics), out of a huge number of them. It’s really one of the most actionable though, especially if you go with the companion book “The Fifth Fiscipline Fieldbook” (a masterwork!).
  • Second to this is Donella Meadows’ “Thinking in Systems“. Mostly about Systems Dynamics (a bit like Senge’s book), it’s also a simpler introductory book to the field than Senge’s. More focused than the preceding book, it might be a simpler read without being simplistic at all.
  • Systems Thinkers” by Ramage & Shipp provides a really tasty appetizer on what the field’s landscape might be. That book could help you choose your path, but then you’ll have to resort to buying some more books (or scout the net). Beware!
  • If you like experiential learning, then I cannot not tell you about Booth Sweeney & Meadows “The Systems Thinking Playbook” which is just that: a ton of small exercises and games to nudge people’s assumptions about what they think of the world.

Enough references, here are my most three contributions (all decks are really short):

Napkin introduction to Systems Thinking : 1- What is ST?

Napkin introduction to Systems Thinking : 2- Why use ST?

Napkin introduction to Systems Thinking : 3- How to do ST?

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.


CLE Newsletter – fall 2012: #systemsthinking (Christmas) Tree Game simulation for your kids!

So, you’re interested in Systems Thinking but don’t know how or where to start? ST is a wild beast, but I found that starting with Systems Dynamics is easier. Don’t assume that all there is in ST!

So, here we go, the latest issue of the Creative Learning Exchange newsletter where there’s all the necessary toolkit to teach Systems to your kids… or yourself!

CLE is an organization that publishes content to teach systems thinking to kids, mostly up to K-12 level.

It’s Christmas season, with the popular harvesting of Christmas Trees. A nice opportunity to play the game!

Have a look at the newsletter here (PDF). You can test the Tree game online using a simulator here.

Hmm, while I’m at it, The Lorax (IMDB, Wikipedia page here) has only been released recently in France, but CLE has published a ST studying course for it here: Studying The Lorax with Feedback Loops (PDF as well).

Don’t do #Lean, Build it instead

October 23rd, 2012 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

People read a lot of books to try to know all about Lean. Indeed, I did it myself (and sometimes still do it). And that’s OK.

But then, we try to have others do Lean as we’ve read in the books.

It’s an error.

We ought to have others build a Lean organization, not do it as per the books.

Trying to do Lean is trying to push solutions onto people, which is a sure way to have them resist.

Whether trying to build a Lean organization is about helping people find their own solutions toward Lean. As I say, it’s about pulling Lean out of the people. Not the other way round.

Indeed, Taiichi Ohno told us so: we shouldn’t try to replicate the Toyota Production System, we must grow our own. That’s the main reason he didn’t want to write down what TPS was in the first place (other reason was to avoid it becoming fixed).

Why is it, then, that we try to replicate all that Mr Ohno told, except for this one fundamental, point?


Don’t teach #Lean

genchi genbutsu

Now, thinking about it, how long have companies been trying to replicate Toyota? That’s easy fact to find: get the publication date of “The machine that changed the world” from Womack, Jones & Roos: 1991.


It’s been 21 years that people try to teach Lean. And few succeed. Yet the teaching and education business is longer than that. Should we have known a bullet-proof way of teaching, we’d know by then, don’t you think?

So, instead of trying to find the root cause of why Lean teaching fails (besides, it doesn’t really fail: it’s just that knowledge learned that way cannot be put into motion), let’s turn to what works instead. What do successful Lean coaches tell us about turning a company Lean? It simple, and I guess anyone in the Lean business knows it:

現地現物 !

Or, as I read elsewhere:

Go to the real place, look at the process, talk to the people.

Why does teaching Lean doesn’t work?

Trying to teach as systemic a thing as Lean is very difficult. Every single tool or practice is connected to every other one: Just in Time helps with flow, but also raises problems (that the purpose, by the way!), so you can see them, but you’d need visual performance management board as well, which means you need to learn and practice Five Why’s root cause analyses, Pareto, and Ishikawa. So, you’d discover that your training is lame (Job Instruction!), your batches are too big and because your die changeovers are too long, so you must SMED them, and so on.

So, when someone’s trying to teach Lean, they’re mainly trying to have some square pegs forced into round holes. The peg being the Lean material, and the hole being the people’s brain they’re trying to indoctrinate. People will have a hard time making sense of their knowledge with what they have in production. Teaching them is also mostly diverting their mind from where the true work needs to be done: the floor (gemba).

So between using new and non-practical knowledge or continuing to do what they’ve already done (and that they perfectly know how to do from their perspective), what do you think they will do? They will continue to do business as usual of course!

So, what to do about Lean knowledge?

Should we stop teaching Lean? No, of course, otherwise we’d be short of Lean experts someday. But what’s important is that the ones having Lean knowledge don’t try to push it onto people (besides, pushing isn’t the best Lean practice, by the way), but they must try to have people pull knowledge. And not pulling knowledge from the mind of their Lean consultant, but from their own! Which means the Lean consultant must change job and become a Lean coach. The role of a coach being that of a guide that doesn’t give solutions, but helps and encourages on the path to understanding. Of course, the Lean knowledge of the coach is useful: it helps him/her to ask the good questions at the most efficient moment so that the people can discover and learn Leanin the context of their own work.

Here’s one example of what I meant by the diatribe above: Michael Ballé’s one of the most respected Lean coach on the planet, but it took me quite some years to fully understand what he meant by repeatedly and bluntly telling people (like myself!) to go back to the gemba and work there. But for people like me that are more interested in learning than in producing, that wasn’t pleasant a discourse as I wanted it to be.

Now I know how I can have learning AND teaching at the same time: by going to the gemba and patiently and relentlessly showing the direction of Lean to people, but by coaching them to discover what would work best for them, in their own context. Hopefully, I have different tools in my toolbox to help me along the way, like Appreciative Inquiry to work out with people why do they do what they do, Solution Focus to help them remember what do they do that already works for them from a Lean perspective or Systems Thinking to nudge them into considering the whole system rather than just their silo and have them get out of their own way to truly build that systemic way of the company by 1) going to the real place, 2) looking at the process and 3) talkig to the (other) people.


Mail List

Join the mailing list

Check your email and confirm the subscription