Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
Home » Posts tagged 'strength'

Du #SWOT au #SOAR : pour une mise en mouvement de l’entreprise vers sa #stratégie

Voici un excellent article qui présente, de manière simple et pratique, le SOAR comme alternative plus complète et plus efficace au SWOT. Une lecture rapide qui pourrait bien permettre aux responsables d’entreprise de lancer, enfin, leur entreprise sur le chemin du changement :

Merci Bernard !


The other as key to exponential expression of #strengths #labso

December 12th, 2016 Posted in Change, Strengths Tags: , , , , ,

Quick thoughts: if I focus on my own strengths, I will tend to see others as a distinction from my owns and thus risk amplifying their weaknesses when compared to me (with all the Pygmallion effect possibly entering the scene)

On the contrary, if I intently focus on the other’ strengths, I’ll tend to find in them those that resonate with mine or which can connect to mine. In thus doing, I’ll build a network of connected strengths, stronger than my own only, because of the diversity of the sources involved (not just mine but those of others as well which will be able to compensate for my own weaknesses).

With an intent focused on the other, s/he becomes a mirror through which I can see my own strengths. Should s/he be doing the same, an exponential amplification happens between ourselves (a “mise en abyme” as we say in french): we help ourselves grow our own strengths!

#Permaculture and #P2P Culture: hand in hand?

While I was reading that excellent french introduction to P2P on the P2P Foundation website (it’s old but very interesting nonetheless), I remembered my own thinking around permaculture and efficiency or management.

And so it occurred to me that both permaculture and P2P interactions could work hand in hand. Indeed, as I think people need to be trained or at least showed how P2P interactions are easy, the 12 permaculture principles could well be a list of patterns or a roadmap to foster that Peer Production or at least the development of more recurrent and fruitful P2P interactions.

Indeed, we could even just start with the 3 ethics of Permaculture:

  1. Earth Care: in the context of P2P, it would be the results of peer production, that is, the Commons. Respect what’s been done previously: it had a reason to exist, and we can only build on top of it. And even if we don’t, it framed people’s current mental models, and so we must bear with the consequences and take these into consideration for our own creation.
  2. People Care: self explanatory; to better interact with people we have to be as respectful to their ideas as we are keen to promoting ours. In Peter Senge’s book “The Fifth Discipline”, it is explained as Bohm’s Dialog: “balance advocacy and inquiry” and “suspend your beliefs” (both in the sense of 1) refraining from letting your judgement be altered by your preconceptions and 2) exposing your beliefs for others to consider and take into consideration).
  3. Fair Share: whatever you co-create, use it and share the rest for others to re-use and build upon. That’s how civilizations are created.

That was the easy part, and you can probably only go with these 3. The 12 permaculture principles below are an elaboration of the 3 ethics. More practical principles if you need something more concrete to apply.

IMHO the reason these 12 agricultural principles seem to work so well is because they are precisely just this: principles applying to a system (nature and agriculture as they are). And because systems thinking is transdisciplinary, they can be quite easily transposed into different realms (like I did in management or efficiency – besides, what I propose below is just a generalization of my thinking on efficiency and better social teleogical interactions [social interactions toward a goal] which we’ve packages into the Labso with my peer Alexis Nicolas).

Also, should you need to explain to starting Holacracy or Sociocracy communities how employees should behave with one another for the cultural change to flourish, it might be a good recipe: more emotionally and metaphorically loaded than a bloated constitution (Holacracy) or 4 rough naked principles (Sociocracy).

Here’s my list of the 12 permaculture principles adapted toward fostering flourishing P2P interactions:

  1. OBSERVE & INTERACT – “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” The best way to accustom yourself to someone else or to a pre-existing group is to observe and interact without trying to actively interfere with the group. Feel the rhythm and get used to the beat before entering the dance floor.
  2. CATCH & STORE ENERGY – “Make hay while the sun shines.” Don’t spoil your energy, nor that of others. P2P interactions should make the best use of energy and better yet, capture the environmental energy (that out of the Commons as I said above with the 3 ethics) in order to reuse it later. That energy may be in the form of peers wanting to contribute, meaning which can be leveraged to fuel a new project, ideas in the air waiting to coalesce into something bigger and thicker…
  3. OBTAIN A YIELD – “You can’t work on an empty stomach.” Whatever you want to collaborate on, it needs to produce something, because 1) you need to be able to (at least partly) live on it and 2) that very production is what will motivate your peers to continue. Idealized vision are a must to start, but they evaporate quickly with time unless concrete results can sustain the momentum.
  4. APPLY SELF-REGULATION & ACCEPT FEEDBACK – “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation.” P2P is not lonely work. For the collaboration to work, the group must accept internal 1:1 exchanges between its members so they can coordinate among themselves and people self-correct when they feel their interactions aren’t inducing the best results for the other peers as individuals and for the group as a whole. But for that internal balance to exist, people must provide and accept (respectful) feedback.
  5. USE & VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES & SERVICES – “Let nature take its course.” Avoid producing one-off artefacts. Build Commons that can be reused by others. Make them flexible, easy to dismount and remount differently, easy to compose with others’ own artefacts.
  6. PRODUCE NO WASTE – “Waste not, want not. A stitch in time saves nine.” Waste is that which doesn’t bring value to others. When you create waste, you loose support from others and you work against your own group of peers, because it will go against the energy they’re trying to invest. It will clog your interactions, grind the creative process and eat all your (individual and collective) energy for nothing. Don’t do that.
  7. DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS – “Can’t see the wood for the trees.” Lay down the general principles, which are more intellectual and high level but also more flexible and around which you can more easily exchange, interact and adapt. It’s easier to mold an idea than to rebuild a physical gizmo. Yet balance that with #3: obtain a yield. The global idea is best tackled with the whole group when the details can be addressed in smaller subgroups or even by individuals acting for the benefit of the whole.
  8. INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE – “Many hands make light work.” To avoid centrifugal forces, seek to weave links rather than erect barriers. Search for what’s similar and what’s similar inside the differences instead of focusing on the sole differences. Constantly reweave the group together with similarities and connections between ideas and people. Don’t let differences and dissimilarities tear you apart from one another. It’s a natural step for the mind to spot differences (I’ve started to write about that in my book) so you need to pay special attention against it.
  9. USE SMALL & SLOW SOLUTIONS – “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Although we’re a lot wanting to change the world, it all starts with small steps. They also are the best way to coordinate with one another and let people enough time to chew on new ideas and adapt to them. Slowly build a robust small foundation rather than a hasty big fragile one that will crumble under pressure later on.
  10. USE & VALUE DIVERSITY – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” The best group is composed of diverse people with various perspectives. It ensures resilience, innovation, constant (individual) energy access, etc. Uniformity, just like in Nature, is prone to diseases and thus failure.
  11. USE EDGES & VALUE THE MARGINAL – “Don’t think you are on the right track just because it is a well-beaten path.” What’s on the border is what’s more likely to be different. It mixes the internal (who the group is) with the external (what the environment needs, calls for, provides…) Edgers are better armed to provide that diversity (see previous point) to the group and allow it to evolve as best as possible along with its environment (provided the group accepts feedback, see #4). Make as many people edgers as you can. Interview them, find what makes them different because of hidden edges they have (untapped potential, skills, talents), then make these edges explicit and weave those with what’s the group is doing. Yes, that would mean a sort of community manager for the real physical world. Or peer-ify that and ensure people regularly do that to one another.
  12. CREATIVELY USE & RESPOND TO CHANGE – “Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be.” And that’s the corollary of all that preceded: learn to recognize the need for change when you meet it, whether it comes from the outside environment, from the edges or from deeper inside. Be purposeful and stick to your values, but don’t rigidify so as to break when it would have been better to pivot and change gears.

#Permaculture and Organizational #Efficiency (#strength-based #Lean also)

Having the chance to own a house with a small garden, I recently got interested in Permaculture. Indeed, I’ve been interested in Christopher Alexander‘s pattern language already (and I blogged about his 15 principles of wholeness before).

Reading this great introduction about permaculture this morning got me thinking about how this would connect with business and organizational improvement. And, the fact is that it seems to work like a charm!

Here are the 12 principles of permaculture viewed from the perspective of organizational improvement and efficiency (with a twisted view from strength-based Lean…)

  1. OBSERVE & INTERACT – “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This indeed is the first step of improvement: go to the real place (gemba, genchi gembutsu) and look at the process! Improvement is not done in an office remote from where the work or the process is done.
  2. CATCH & STORE ENERGY – “Make hay while the sun shines.” When thinking of “Lean and Green”, this would obviously make sense of course. But I like the human aspect as well where you need to feel, catch and use the energy of people: what motivates them to do what they do? What’s the purpose of the organization that drives it to deliver its services? What fuels people to work? Before you try to change the processes, you must take great care in not destroying that energy. One could also see in this point the sometimes added 8th waste of “unused employee creativity”: this too is a kind of energy which should fuel an organization.
  3. OBTAIN A YIELD – “You can’t work on an empty stomach.” Or “Produce”. The goal of an organization is to service its customers, right? So you need to ship as soon as possible. And the better the quality has to be, though we’ll come back later to this one.
  4. APPLY SELF-REGULATION & ACCEPT FEEDBACK – “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation.” When you produce, you need to look at what you ship, and self-correct in case of a problem. This pertains to the final client, but of course to internal clients as well, between teams or silos (if your organization is so structured). So, regulation with the previous and later steps in the process (TAKT time, anyone?) and client feedback… I also like the saying about the seventh generation: don’t look just at the next step, for your job might have consequences far beyond further down the process (or in the Client’s life).
  5. USE & VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES & SERVICES – “Let nature take its course.” Again, I’m not so much interested in material resources (although they’re important of course), but in the human resources: don’t exhaust them but do care for them. Don’t use too much of it that none would be left to let it renew itself. Don’t burn them out.
  6. PRODUCE NO WASTE – “Waste not, want not. A stitch in time saves nine.” Told you it fits nicely with the efficiency improvement stuff! The link with Lean Waste (Muda) is obvious here. And before reducing waste, there is not producing it in the first place.
  7. DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS – “Can’t see the wood for the trees.” I read this one as not focusing on the details at the expense of forgetting the principles. The risk here is to improve locally at the expense of global efficiency (the one pertaining to performance from the client’s perspective, and the organization as a whole). So, it might mean to follow the patterns of efficiency (implement them) and then tune the details (adapt them to the local processes and activities).
  8. INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE – “Many hands make light work.” Back to the silos: you’d better reinforce interactions between the parts rather than growing them apart from one another. This goes also with #4 when accepting feedback from other parts of the organization.
  9. USE SMALL & SLOW SOLUTIONS – “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Small PDCA improvements. Enough said.
  10. USE & VALUE DIVERSITY – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If standardisation of parts and processes is key to efficiency, it should not from the perspective of people: valuing and leveraging diversity increases the chances of finding the best solutions. Diversity of minds in a team, and reaching beyond the limits of that team, through feedback (#4 again) from them is, again, key to improvements.
  11. USE EDGES & VALUE THE MARGINAL – “Don’t think you are on the right track just because it is a well-beaten path.” Here again, we take care of the frontiers of teams and processes and look at interactions to improve. Divergent ideas are valued as a way to further improve. Incidentally, the more your standardized, the more you’ll be able to see divergent ideas. Don’t fright on them as something to be banned, but seek what they might tell you about how to further improve.
  12. CREATIVELY USE & RESPOND TO CHANGE – “Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be.” And the last one: whether your processes look perfect or are still under change, keep an opened eye for forthcoming change and invite, accept it. Change is the only constant thing in the world (Heraclitus).

Community building is (not) a tool (reblog @AxiomNews & more)

October 26th, 2015 Posted in Strength Tags: , , ,

Here’s a short but nonetheless good piece from AxiomNews (strength-based journalism).

It’s indeed paradoxical: we know that to achieve anything, a community behind your cause is a critical success factor. Yet, building it as a mean is (almost) always deemed to fail.

I think it might be useful to re-frame the issue of community building as being both a mean and an end, though this requires flexibility in whatever cause you might have had in the first place (for which you initially thought of building a community to thrust it).

By building a community as an end around a powerful cause, you might find the support you need to pursue that cause.

Stated otherwise, I’d encourage you to put the cause as the source for the community, and not its consequence, therefore building support for when you want to pursue your cause. Gathering a great community to socialize about your cause or project might get the support you personally need when facing difficulty in delivering on your cause. Be it encouragements or help, it’s still useful to feel you’re not alone on the road. People love to talk about great causes, and contributing ideas; they act less often toward that. So, leverage this natural tendency of we humans for that (and don’t get rebuffed by different opinions than your own – seek opportunities in divergences).

Building a community is no replacement for your own hard work – you can’t outsource your work to a community – but it might be a support for you doing the work. Incidentally, by showing off and walking the talk, you might get unexpected help in the end (and the more you’re loosing grip on your initial idea and let it be influenced and co-created by others, the more concrete help you might get).

  • DOESN’T WORK: Community –> Work on cause
  • WORKS: Cause –> Build community –> Support for the cause –> (Possible) help in building the cause further

So, seek to build a community around your cause for the sole purpose of getting warm support (if nothing else). And, who knows, you might get more help later but only if you don’t seek it.


Release Your Inner Genius With These 5 Tips | @FastCompany 

May 22nd, 2015 Posted in Personal Development Tags: ,

Excellent, quick-read article. I love the proposals… and it seems I’m already doing them.

In making something, whether it is a business, an app, a book, or art, we bring something into the world that could come only from us.

Source: Release Your Inner Genius With These 5 Tips | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

#Labso leaflet available in english!

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 ( 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


Reblog @SSIReview: The Dawn of System Leadership – #systemsthinking #stwg

First systems thinking reading during commute this year, and it’s already an excellent paper from SSI Review “The Dawn of System Leadership“. Thorough and with gems inside, I can only urge you to reserve some time to read it (it’s longer than a classical blogpost, but it more than deserves the time invested)!

The Core Capabilities of System Leaders identified in the article are:

  • the ability to see the larger system;
  • fostering reflection and more generative conversations;
  • shifting the collective focus from reactive problem solving to co-creating the future.

The article also mentions Appreciative Inquiry, which is quite rare in the systems thinking field not to be mentioned.

Also mentioned is Otto Scharmer’s “Theory U” which starts with three openings:

  • opening the mind (to challenge our assumptions),
  • opening the heart (to be vulnerable and to truly hear one another),
  • and opening the will (to let go of pre-set goals and agendas and see what is really needed and possible)

Ironically (well, maybe not so in the end) is the link I made in the past between the Strengths of people and Simon Sinek’s three circles in this blogpost and the work we’re developping with Alexis Nicolas in the Labso (laboratory of social technologies) (in bold are the new additions to the previous article):

  • Why <–> Purpose <–> Vision (heart) of where you want to go
  • How <–> Mastery <–> Ideas (mind) of how to get there
  • What <–> Autonomy <–> Experience (hand) that proved to work in the past that can support you going forward

2015 seems to be off to a very good start!

#TWI Job Instruction is technical #strength-based teaching – #Lean

It stroke me the other day that the Training With Industry Job Instruction material is just strength-based appreciating, gathering and teaching for the shop floor.

Strengths are what make people tick: what they know and know how to do, and succeed at.

Job Instruction is what TWI developed as a teaching method in order to gather shop floors best practices and teach them to new hires in a most efficiency way.

There are two phases in JIT:

  1. Prepare the material, where the trainer go on the shop floor (or Gemba) and interviews the employees on what are the best ways to achieve some work, and how to best do it (safety, tricks, etc.)
  2. Deliver the material, where the trainer is encouraged to cut the work into suitable pieces so that the teaching can be done in 20-30 minutes at most.

The way JIT is built also is based on the best strengths of how people learn: small theoretical chunks followed by thorough practice and correction, before any bad habit have a chance of forming.

Also, JIT insists on the fact that the Job Breakdown Sheets are material for the trainer only, and not for the trainees. What to put inside relies on the strengths of the trainer, it’s not generic training material for all kind of trainees.

In the end, I find JIT to be a method to gather “technical” strengths of workers and transmit them around the shop floor for all to benefit.

Just ages before the strengths movement crystalized.

Can #Lean be #positive? Answer from @thegembacoach

Here’s an interesting one from Michael Ballé’s Gemba Coach Column.

Readers of this blog know I’m a big fan of Michael’s thinking. He’s one of the best sensei one can imagine.

Yet, he’s not strength-based in his approach (apart for the “respect for people” which very few seem to understand from him). This latestest column is no different: in trying to make Lean appear positive (as did some other senseis before), Michael stayed in the deficit-based thinking. He’s sticking to the Toyota approach of Lean (which makes wonder wherever it is applied properly, no argument on this) and he explains how looking for, and solving problems can be a positive thing, because it can help people improve their work and achieve a shared purpose to a level that few organizational development initiatives might bring.

Yet, I’m not entirely convinced. Lean can be so much more when viewed from a strength-based perspective.

First of all, problems can be seen as an opportunity of asking oneself when has the problem been less present (if not just totally absent). This is true positive thinking without the need for reframing the situation. In a true positive deviance, one can meditate on the saying that “in any malfunctioning system, something does work properly”. We just have to ask to start searching for, and finding it.

Second, one can put more emphasis on what people would like their system, organisation or process to be. Sure enough, problems happen, meaning, things won’t turn out like we would like them to be. Yet, by accepting this (just like what Michael advocates for), we can just let go of perfection and “make lemonade when life brings us lemons”. If it can be done with problems (solving them when they appear), then why can’t we cease positive opportunities when they happen?

Indeed, I’m still convinced that the PDCA, continuous improvement way to efficiency is the right one to advance. But just like other systems, you can use the loops and feedbacks to run negative or positive paradigms through it (ok, it goes a bit more complicated than this, but I hope you get the point).

So, continue your PDCA and A3 problem solving, but why not next time try to ask about what’s working and what you’re trying to achieve? Why not ask about a time when things worked, at least partially, and what you did that helped make it better? I’m sure you’ll re-discover interesting stuff that you’ll be proud to share with your colleagues, and standardize and teach to others.

But, by building on successes to confirm and reinforce your positive first steps (instead of possibly demotivating problems to solve), you might get more energy to go down the Lean path and more rapidly. Isn’t this an attractive vision to strive for?

Keep us posted on your experiments!


Mail List

Join the mailing list

Check your email and confirm the subscription