Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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#Lean may very well increase your employees intelligence…

Reflecting on my previous quick post (I really need to add value instead of just repeating what I’ve read elsewhere…) I made the link between these five practices that help increasing one’s cognition, and Lean. The practices, should you not want to read the previous post, are:

  1. Seek Novelty
  2. Challenge Yourself
  3. Think Creatively
  4. Do Things The Hard Way
  5. Network

There’s Systems Thinking playing behind the scene here as I feel (like the referred blog post’s author Coert Visser) that they are all related to one another. Let me review each point in turn and discuss it from a Lean point of view.

Seek Novelty

By constantly trying to improve the company, Lean managers strive to maintain a state of permanent change. That is, a state where nothing stays as it is forever and people need to improve constantly, thus change and fin new ways of doing things. Novelty can be found in, for instance, the 5M:

  • Methods: innovate new ways of building the widgets your company sells
  • Man: rotate or change job to discover new places in the company
  • Materials: seek new ways of using your materials, or new materials altogether to improve your widgets (or reduce your costs)
  • Machines: innovate with your machine usage: error-proof devices (poka yoke), automatic unloading (hanedashi), arranging machines into cells, etc.
  • Mother Nature: how can you innovate with the constraints of your envionment to be more efficient? Or innovate in ways to preserve the environment?

Well, you can extend the 5M to 8M if you like, you get the point.

Challenge Yourself

Lean is continuous improvement and this rythms with constant challenge: how to reach that next better point from where you are? I don’t have much to say as this is rather obvious…

Think Creatively

Again, this is what a sensei requests from employees, for instance in A3 problem solving. From Toyota Kata, one knows that constant questioning is required: what’s the problem? why is this a problem? How do you know? What could another solution be? How will you check the results? How will you “sell” your proposal to colleagues (nemawashi)?

Some of the harder problems would probably mandates to think out of the box (as Einstein said, one cannot solve the problems with the same state of mind that created them).

Do Things The Hard Way

This means, do your homework. Don’t rely on others to do it for you or rely on devices to do it for you. If TPS is not hard way, I don’t know what it is! 🙂

Network

Well, I can see two networking tools in Lean: A3 and Hoshin Kanri: they make you meet others, discuss the topics with them, have creative and hard discussions and so exchange possibly differing points of views. A good way to maintain brain plasticity, for sure.

Conclusion

It is said that Lean takes ordinary people to achieve extraodinary results by making them constantly improve the processes they work in. Now, studies have shown that it also turns these ordinary people into extraodinary ones.

Given the flow of past Toyota employees moving to the Lean consulting business, I tend to believe there might be some truth in these studies.

New #TWI Materials #mindmap uploaded to @biggerplate

January 18th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

The corresponding mindmap has been uploaded and is now downloadable and viewable from Biggerplate. Content has been reviewed with help from Mark Warren, chief archivist for the Training Within Industry Yahoo Mailing list. Thanks Mark!

For more about this, please re-read my preceding article on TWI materials.

What questions do we need to ask to raise awareness of #SystemsThinking?

I recently asked this question on the LinkedIn group Systems Thinking World.

My objective was to try to conduct an Appreciative Inquiry into what works for successfully explaining and making people use Systems Thinking. Few people connected to that initial inquiry, so I went for the question above (blog post title).

I got some interesting answers that I grouped by topic and assembled into a SurveyMonkey survey.

You’re invited to participate in the survey by clicking here.

I plan to publish the results by the beginning of 2011.

Meanwhile, I wish you some happy Christmas and end of year holidays!

#SystemsThinking for Contemporary Challenges

December 9th, 2010 Posted in Systems Thinking Tags: ,

Here is a nice blog entry at Pegasus Communication: Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges.

I quote one of the end paragraph which seems to echo very well some discussions going on LinkedIn group “Systems Thinking World” about how to increase awareness of systems thinking in the general public…

The zero-impact building session was a great segue to John Sterman from MIT, who spoke about climate change. He was critical of systems thinking practitioners who have failed to develop tools and a language that governments, leaders, and everyday citizens can use to understand the long-term consequences of their actions. He cited the example of the “bathtub”and the C-ROADS simulator as examples of systems tools that help people change their mental models, especially around issues as complex as climate change. According to Sterman, if the systems thinking community is not willing to build a new set of tools to address these large-scale challenges, then very little will change.

I started to think about doing an Appreciative Inquiry into what works for raising systems thinking awareness and then devising a plan to do more of it. Contributions are starting to come smoothly. As soon as I have synthesized them, I’ll post them on the blog.

Meanwhile, you might be interested in some great work that is available to freely raise your skills in Systems Thinking. I’ve see the following (free) resources really helpful. Feel fre to comment to add your preferred ones:

As for the “not free” resources, I’m a recent subscriber of “The Systems Thinker” PDF magazine, which I must admit is a gold mine (pun intended: Michaël Ballé, author of the Lean turnaround novel “The Gold Mine” sometimes write for this newsletter – hint, hint! :-).

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