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How are #SystemsThinking and #Lean related?

March 12th, 2013 Posted in Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , , , ,

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This is a post I just saw on LinkedIn: how Systems Thinking and Lean are related?

Here’s my answer:

ST and Lean are not related on first sight. Yet, I’m one of the few being convinced that all the Lean paraphernalia (management practices, coaching Katas, Tools, etc.) helps collaborators of an organization build a better systemic view of that organization and its links with suppliers and clients.

Most if not everything done in Lean is multidimensional.

For instance, pulling processes is:

  • first and foremost in order to make problems visible
  • improves efficiency

Making problems visible helps:

  • seeing them in order to solve them
  • develop people

Developing people will:

  • make them happier at work
  • which makes them more efficient
  • which will further improve the processes (go back to first list above)

Other tools are more dedicated (IMHO) to knitting the systemic view of the company into people’s head and therefore raise their motivation by clarifying the big picture for them, forces everybody to clarify and participate in what this big picture is, and challenge all that may be deviant to it.

For instance: A3 Thinking is about having a description of a problem circulated around that:

  • have the whole of the problem (description, cause hypotheses, solutions ideas, action plans, results) under the eyes: a sort of systemic rich picture in itself
  • the circulation helps everybody build that systemic understanding in his own mind
  • help break down the barriers between organizational silos, which further reinforce the connectivity/relationships among employees, thereby facilitating further improvement initiatives

Nemawashi is the name of that process of circulating A3s during preparation, testing of hypotheses, standardisation of results, and later, Yokoten is the process of proposing the solutions for everybody in the organization to apply and further improve it.

As renown twice Shingo Prized author Michael Ballé said : Lean is systems thinking applied and working.

To make the connection with what @David said: you start by pulling the main production processes, then you pull other supplying processes whose TAKT is that of production. Then you pull administrative processes (HR, finance, etc.)

In the end (10 years from the beginning!), all really is connected and not in silo anymore and the whole organization is really functioning in a systemic, dense network [a system!], as opposed to loosely singly connected silos at the start of the Lean turnover.

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