Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Might #problemsolving be our civilization’s root cause of the #collapse to come?

Problem solving, RCA (root cause analysis), continuous improvement, Lean management, all in order to study the problem, and find a fix for it… sounds the best way to progress, right? Hell, we even have ISO norms like ISO 9001 for it! Plan your actions, Do an experiment, Check the results, and Adjust upon deviations found. In itself, that PDCA or Shewart/Deming improvement circle doesn’t sound bad. Indeed, evolution thrives on it:

  • Plan is what’s your genetic material and your sociological background tells you to do (through language when it comes to humans)
  • Do is well, living
  • Check is when feedback is felt (more on this later)
  • Adjust is when learning occurs and living creatures adapt to the change

So, what’s wrong with it? Well, I think the wrong happens under the radar, but first in the Check step (indeed, PDCA starts at Check… I’ve read about that some years ago but can’t find the reference, sorry). It’s a systemic issue, and one that wouldn’t occur if we accepted to move to second order cybernetics / systems thinking.

In the 1st order cybernetics or systems thinking (or cybernetics), there’s an observer, and an observed, and no link, no influence (except for the decided) between them.

In 2nd order cybernetics, the observer considers the self to be part of the system and its perspective / world view / weltanschauung about it having an influence on the “observed”.

When you’re still in the 1st order of thinking, it’s all the most easy to fall in the trap of thinking the observed is “wrong” (with respect to what you would like it to be) and “fix” it by some intervention. Indeed, that brought civilization to where it is today with all our science and technology, arts, philosophy, etc. But it also brought with it environmental exhaustion, pollution and peak everything (eg. peak minerals)…

In 2nd order cybernetics, one recognizes that one’s own (preconceived) perspective on anything shapes the perception of that very thing it is observing. As a consequence, perceiving a problem in an observed might be more revealing on a “problem” in the mind of the observer than in reality. Indeed, Nature doesn’t have problems. Nature *is* and evolves on its own. It’s the perception of a problem and the desire to fix it that tampers with the natural cycles of nature and most often than not creates more unintended consequences (though at a later time), for which a new cycle of “problem solving” will need to be done.

So, the 1st order way of doing the Check is searching for an external (to self) source of the problem, consequently followed by an external search of a solution, or “fix” to that very (external) problem, at its perceived (external) root cause.

Indeed, in 2nd order cybernetics, one would ponder how is it that we are seeing a problem in the first place… and then stop doing what’s causing it. The Check thus turns its inspection toward self and becomes introspection. Consequently, the Adjust begins to see a different way of behaving, in such a way that it doesn’t trigger negative feedbacks.

Does it have something to do with deficit-based change versus strength-based change? Not necessarily. One can decide to seek the positive, what worked (like previous acts on the observed rather than on oneself) because it did have apparent beneficial effects, but without considering that it might have future unintended consequences.

Permaculture, for instance, is, IMHO, both a strength-based approach to change AND an intrinsic way of changing (do we need to design a new word for it? Does one already exist? Please tell me in the comments). Permaculture seeks to stop detrimental living practices (housing, agriculture, health, economy, etc.) and instead, change its practitioners’ behaviors to be more in line with what Nature does already, or to step by step (PDCA!) approach Nature’s way of doing things.

Création d’emploi fondée sur les forces #solutionfocus

Un article très intéressant sur des initiatives différentes en matière de création d’emploi !

On cherche les compétences et les envies des gens, et on les aide à construire un projet, presque auto-financé (en tout cas, en utilisant les aides normalement disponibles pour les chômeurs pour plutôt les aider à construire un avenir). Bravo !

À lire ici : http://www.bastamag.net/Territoires-zero-chomeurs-l-initiative-qui-veut-prendre-les-choses-a-l-envers

 

 









#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 (http://labso.org/) 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!









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!

 









Call for articles on #Strength-based #Lean for @AIPractitioner november 2015!

Do you work on organizational improvements using Lean?

Are you strength-based and connect Appreciative Inquiry, Solution Focus or Positive Deviance to your practice?

We want to hear from you!

Have a look at our call for paper and get in touch!









The paradox of improvement and #change in a #deficit or #strength-based vision of the world…

I was considering change this morning, in the context of how the brain, as a complex adaptive system, deals with it (this is explained in my book “The Colors of Change“).

When you work from a deficit-based perspective on life (that is, you have a vision or an ideal in mind and all you see are gaps between it and reality around you, that is, problems):

It’s easy to point out problems, but it’s difficult to solve them.

It’s difficult because you will want to fill a gap using things absent. Which is difficult obviously.

On the contrary, when working from a strength-based mindset, the situation is just the opposite:

It’s hard to point out strengths, but it’s easy to improve on them.

Because strengths are so easy to use, they are hardly noticed on first sight, especially by the person expressing them. For others, it’s a bit easier because someone’s strengths might look so different to one’s own mental model that singling them out is easy.

As for improving, well, the person exercising a strength needs to notice it first before being able to do more of it. But once it’s made visible again (using a slight shift in perspective, for instance), then it’s far easier to do more of it, because you know exactly what it is: you’re going to do more of something you already have done before. Compare this to doing something you never did or for which you’re not so good at!

As far as efficiency is concerned, I’d rather think a bit more beforehand to understand the strengths at play, and then act more easily afterwards, rather than the opposite (jumping straight on a problem but being dragged in acting out a solution to it).

Of course, there’s the middle path where you identify a problem, and then work out to find times when the problem was not present, what the corresponding strengths might be that made the situation better, and then do more of them. A bit simpler than strict problem solving, though still longer than pure strength-based work.

So what? Well, my conclusion is to just don’t damn look for problems in the first place. Just identify what you want more of because you just seem to like it, identify how come you’re good at it, and just-do-more-of-it!!!

 









#slideshare: La puissance des organisations qui se basent sur leurs forces de @bernard_tollec et @pscheuerer‎

Excellente présentation, en français, sur les approches du changement fondées sur les forces ! Je vous la recommande chaudement !

La puissance des organisations qui se basent sur leurs forces.









Exceptional #Strength based organizations @slideshare from @Bernard_TOLLEC and @pscheuerer

Please take a few minutes to review those exceptional slides on what are Strength-Based Organizations, and why we do believe in their power and the power of appreciating these…

http://www.slideshare.net/ichtus/strength-based-consultants

 









Forthcoming book on #Strength-based #Lean #SixSigma by David Shaked #appreciativeinquiry #solutionfocus

A new book called ‘Strength-based Lean Six Sigma‘ will be available from November 4th. Its author, David Shaked, has worked with Lean Thinking and Six Sigma for over 15 years and more specifically using a strength-based approach over the past 7 years.

The book is the first book to create bridges and combine the best of both the strengths and the deficit worlds in the drive for greater efficiency, by combining Appreciative Inquiry (and other strength-based approaches like Solution Focus), with the leading approaches to efficiency and quality improvement (Lean Thinking and Six Sigma – normally practised with a deficit-focus). The book contains principles, fresh ideas, stories and useful tools.

It is hoped this book will expand the community of Strength-based practitioners & enthusiasts by creating inroads with many more organizations and people who are keen followers of Lean Thinking and Six Sigma.

If your organization or clients are using Lean Six Sigma and you would like to use the best of their existing knowledge while introducing them to AI – this book is for you (and for them…)!

You can now be pre-order the book directly from the publisher (with a special launch discount) using the details in the following flyer.

It is also available for pre-order on both Amazon US and Amazon UK:

  1. Amazon UK
  2. Amazon US

It may also be available via other Amazon sites or other online/off line retailers of your preference. You can search it using the book title or the ISBN number which is: 0749469501. An e-book version (e.g. for Kindle/iPad) will also be available closer to the launch date.

There’s a LinkedIn group on the same subject as well, feel free to join to talk on the topic of strengths applied to Lean and Six Sigma.









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