Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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#mindmap: Margareth Weathley 10 Principles for Creating Healthy Communities on @biggerplate

I just uploaded a mindmap I had in stock about these 10 principles. Very useful to any kind of organization, including for-profit (but you must not run when you hear forgiveness, generosity and love in that kind of context!).

The map’s available here and the source material was this article.

What Steve Jobs can teach us in order to really appreciate systems?

Here is a very nice article from The Personal Excellence Blog. I will just recall the 11 points made over there:

  1. Life is what you make it out to be
  2. Dream big – very big
  3. The greatest things started somewhere
  4. Certifications don’t matter
  5. Live every day like it is your last
  6. Stop listening to what others say
  7. Do not underestimate the impact you can have on the world
  8. Failure only happens when you deem it to be so
  9. Do what you love
  10. Have faith – Never lose hope
  11. Outdo yourself – Over, and over again

Isn’t this a near perfect mix of Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focus?

I’ve read elsewhere that you need to always think big because lower and mid-levels are already crowded. There’s still room available at the most higher levels: it might be easier to play big than to make room for yourself in mediocrity.

Let me rewrite the list by adding the powerful concepts at play underneath:

  1. Life is what you make it out to be – constructivism, appreciative inquiry
  2. Dream big – very big – constructivismappreciative inquiry
  3. The greatest things started somewhere – solution focus (smallest next action)
  4. Certifications don’t matter – strengths
  5. Live every day like it is your last – Buddha also said: and learn as if you would never die
  6. Stop listening to what others say – be active in constructivism, don’t let others construct you!
  7. Do not underestimate the impact you can have on the world – constructivism again: your questions are fateful, appreciative inquiry as well
  8. Failure only happens when you deem it to be so – constructivism!
  9. Do what you love – what else? Solution focus also
  10. Have faith – Never lose hope – constructivism though indirectly: when you want something strong enough, the universe will conspire to make it happen (recalled from memory, Paulo Coelho)
  11. Outdo yourself – Over, and over again – constructivism as well: think big and it’ll happen to you because you’ll construct the world accordingly.

Thanks Celes for writing this excellent article!


#SystemsThinking and the Four Agreements of Miguel Ruiz

Here’s an edited repost of a comment I made on LinkedIn Systems Thinking World discussion  forum:

I see a contradiction that needs to be resolved for organizations to be improved. By accepting that 95% of problems come from the system (Deming), it may feel like people are make non-accountable for what occurs. Yet, the people make the system as much as the system makes the people.

So it should be that every people should make their maximum to change the system by changing themselves first (what’s in their span/locus of control).

Which reminds me the Four Agreements of Miguel Ruiz ( :

  • Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  • Don’t Take Anything Personally.
  • Don’t Make Assumptions.
  • Always Do Your Best.

Which I could translate into raw/rough systems speak:

  • Be nice to the system (for it could fight/feed back)
  • It’s not you, it’s the system, stupid!
  • Update your mental models
  • (Do your share to) Improve the system

This also comforts me into feeling that systems thinking teaches compassion.

Comments anyone?

Positive #GROW #coaching model? (using #solutionfocus and #appreciativeinquiry)

“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” — Henri Ford

Reading some background information on the GROW coaching model, it appeared to me that it could easily be transformed into a positive change model.

GROW originally stands for:

It’s indeed a very simple and effective coaching model to be used. Yet, I feel that it can be enhanced by focusing more on the positive side and what works already for the coachee in order to bring more energy to fuel the change. Here are my thoughts on how to do it below. Read more »

Unautomate Your Money #zenhabits but also #Lean

September 20th, 2011 Posted in Lean, Personal Development Tags: ,

I appreciate this post on Zenhabits: Unautomate Your Money.

Special note to the first sentence:

“Every time we automate a process in our lives, we trade a piece of consciousness away for a piece of convenience.”

Of course, in Lean, we don’t automate, we autonomate, which means we add a human touch AND we don’t automate that which can be removed altogether in the first place.

We leverage process autonomy to make better use of brainpower.


The Untapped Power Of Smiling – Forbes

September 9th, 2011 Posted in Personal Development Tags: , , , ,

Incredible article! Broad and well documented: The Untapped Power Of Smiling – Forbes.

There’s systems thinking even where we don’t expect it. When you smile, chances are that you’ll make others smile as well, providing you that happy face in front of you that will enlight your day.

Not only is this deliberate social constructivism (meaning being constructed in interaction) of a happy encounter, it’s also (social) constructionism (meaning being constructed in building something).

Next time you go to the gemba, smile at the people you see!


Psychological Flow and #Lean

Challenge vs Skill Diagram

Challenge vs Skill Diagram

In Lean, we talk a lot of Flow: how a process can add value step by step, without ever stopping, up to the time the product is sold to a customer.

Now, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi also introduced the concept of psychological flow in which people are in a very attractive mental state. That state occurs when people work on a task that is both challenging to them AND they feel like they have enough skills to tackle it.

How does it relate to Lean?

Well, in non Lean companies (dare I say most of them?) people are usually  entangled in processes that are far from providing a state of psychological flow:

  • either there are not challenging enough and require few skills on their part and they feel bored at work
  • or the challenge is high but they feel like they lack the proper skills to perform, and they feel stressed (anxiety).

As per the diagram above, people rarely are in the yellow part of it (arousal, control or flow).

What can be done to change that? Well, what Lean is all about: remove muda, mura and muri!

By improving processes, it is thus possible to remove all that administrativia that often is neither challenging nor requiring high levels of skills to be done.

  • muda (non-value added activities) is neither challenging nor requiring skills to be done, hence negatively impacting workers
  • mura (unevenness) makes work fluctuate between a high challenge and a low one, making people oscillate between anxiety and apathy
  • and muri (unreasonable) adds to the challenge without a possibility to achieve it with skills, hence producing anxiety

So, working to create a Lean company is striving to make processes and people flow.

What’s more, the link between the two is the traditional problem solving activity of Lean when the processes raise problems that are solved by people. This raise their skill level, which result in improved processes that are thus better capable of raising more subtle problems, to be solved again. A virtuous circle.

I hope to see how this can be turned more strength-based in another blog post…


What my wild strawberries told me about #Lean

July 13th, 2011 Posted in Lean, Personal Development, Uncategorized

At the end of spring this year, I had the pleasure to see that my wild strawberries were 1) plenty and 2) ripe.

It turned out that harvesting them was a powerful Lean learning experience. Here’s why.

Before harvesting, I have had the habit of glancing at them every morning when passing by to go to my car. Only when I thought there was enough did I decided to invest the time in harvesting them. Also, I came to notice the powerful and tasty smell they were releasing. A kind of call for harvesting, for sure. Picking some at random from time to time finished convincing me that the time had come.

So, on that first evening at dusk, I picked up a bowl and started collecting them. Fool that I was! A bowl wasn’t enough for the quantity available (I have around 6 squared-meters of them). The day after, I collected another bowl. And the day after, still another one. I stopped after that (out of laziness I must admit and because I though that what was left wasn’t the burden of picking them up).

But what’s more important to me is what I learned during the time picking the strawberries:

  • that you can trust your nose and eyes as to whether it’s time to harvest or not
  • how you can improve your efficiency by attending to your tactile sensations when picking up berries: some come easily and are good to eat, some are resisting a bit: they probably aren’t ripe on all their surface (the one below often still being green) – so don’t trust only your first eye impression here!
  • that the bigger ones are often hidden by leaves (I suspect it’s because the exposed ones ripe more quickly and stop their growing – the ones being protected by leaves can grow more before ripping. Should I plant a shrub to shadow them? That’s something done for tea plants to increase chlorophyll and taste – with trees in India and artificial shadows in Japan for Gyokuro green tea. Some PDCA for some next year…
  • so I learned to move the leaves by hand to discover the bigger ones
  • I learned to detect by hand the ones already tasted by slugs
  • the ones that are of dark red but still small are often not tasty because they have lots of seeds on them
  • moving the leaves by hand, I shall not fear spiders, for they are more frightened than me
  • if I go in the middle of the gemba, err, the field, I can see more than by staying outside of it
  • so I learned to move among them without crushing them
  • picking some, I looked between my legs (head upside down) and discovered that I could see under the leaves and discover even more than by moving leaves by hand. I ended with a combination of the two (hopefully, my neighbors aren’t able to see me thanks to the hedge while doing this)
  • I also learned to 5S the place a bit, especially at the borders of it, to prevent shoots from colonizing the rest of the garden
  • I removed grass between strawberry plants
  • I also removed the offshoots from a previous hedge that was located where my strawberries are now, before they grow too big

So, as I said, after the third day, I stopped harvesting, believing I got most of them. A few days after, I discovered how foolish I had been. New lessons: don’t trust your mind, go and see by yourself. Also, do the hard work! It turned out that it wasn’t that bad: some strawberries were too ripe to be eaten so I let them fall on the floor so the seeds can make for the Next Generation (although strawberries are perennial here).

So, my wild strawberries told (or remembered) me some powerful Lean lessons:

  • use your senses fully to be efficient (Franck I guess you’ll be happy on this one! 🙂
  • go to the real place, do the real job, to learn practical experience and identify improvement opportunities
  • do the hard work and don’t only rely on what you’re thinking: go and see always and always, even when you think you know already, for you never know completely anyway
  • 5S your workplace to allow for more efficiency, to discover problems or prevent future ones – also, 5S is something you can do while working, not only at dedicated times
  • Flow allows for concentration that allows for deep learning

What have you learned of your work that would allow you to improve it? When have you last improved your work?

When was the last time you learned something out of the work your employees do everyday long?

When was the last time you gave them the opportunity to improve their own work based on what they learn from it every day?

What behavior of yours have you seen successful in prompting improvement activities from your employees? What could you do tomorrow to replicate part or all of that successful behavior on a recurrent basis? What’s in it for you as well?


Erick Erickson Stages of Growth #mindmap uploaded on @biggerplate

June 10th, 2011 Posted in Personal Development Tags: ,

Photo of Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson has identified a number of growth stages. These could be used by management as a way to increase efficiency of their relations with employees.

The map’s available here.

This post also inaugurates my “Personal development” category!

(When I write such a short post it means that:

  • the topic has deeply enough interested me so I moved myself to mention it
  • I’ll probably write a more detailed blog post on how this fit with my other topics of interest in this blog. Stay tuned! (hint: use the RSS-force)


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