Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Reblog: Metaphors of Organisation by James Lawley

Someone just mentioned this:

Metaphors of Organisation part 1 & part 2.

Very interesting!

I’d like to add the “Organizations as mysteries to be embraced” (google search) way of seeing them, as proposed by Appreciative Inquiry for instance.

Reading this paper might throw you more into constructivism… This is for you own good. I’m not sorry for that 😉

 

#Strength based Hoshin Kanri (#Lean policy deployement)?

My recent post about how Hoshin Kanri is respectful of people got me some feedback on Twitter about how hoshin can also be used to oppress people.

Of course, if management doesn’t take lower hierarchical level ideas into account, or if the “bottom-up”  part is not done at all, can it turns back into classical “command and control” way of managing an organization. But this is not Lean Hoshin Kanri anymore, in the same way that Lean can be Mean, but then it’s not Lean anymore either.

Now, I would like to focus a bit more on how Hoshin Kanri can be done with a Strength-based touch in order to reinforce that “respect for people” part of it.

First of all, I think Hoshin is already somewhat strength-based (again, when done “properly”) in that it asks people about their advice on what ought to be done to improve the organization. People are more likely to give a direction that suits them (conforms to their strengths) than any other one.

But then, it seems to me the focus on strengths could be reinforced explicitly. Here’s how:

  • First, in the initial vision building, the strength part need to be made explicit by not referring to what’s broken inside the company, but rather to what makes the company successful. Some kind of values that are already shared by employees of the companies, or some values that are already acknowledged by the market (and known to the employees). If that is not the case, then I think it’s worth investing some time upfront into developing such a positive (hence powerful) vision, with approaches like Appreciative Inquiry which inquire into what’s been working best for people and what they value as individual and as a social group.
  • Second, building on this initial shared positive vision, each descending step of the hoshin kanri should work with whatever excellence is recognized at each level and try to maximize it (first by appreciating it, then by amplifying it). When that recognition comes from management and is the basis for further reflection down the hierarchy, it will be a huge motivation booster for people to contribute!
  • Then, each and every collaborator, under guidance from their direct manager, need to be coached into reflecting on their own strengths and how they see these fitting with the values of the department in which they’re in. The question being asked here not being “does they fit?” (closed question – bad), but “how could they fit better?” (opened question – good)

After the initial descending part of hoshin kanri, the bottom-up part should re-assemble a whole lot more positive energy and ideas for amplifying and refracting inner strengths than has never been possible under other approaches.

Peter Drucker, famous Leadership guru, taught us that “the role of leadership is to align strengths so as to make weaknesses irrelevant“. I’m confident this might be a way to make it work.

The way I propose to conduct the hoshin kanri above is somewhat similar to what could be done with Appreciative Inquiry. Yet, it may be more structured and thus resemble more what traditional policy deployment looks like. As a consequence, it may be more acceptable for a top manager to try this rather than a whole-system change a la AI.

What do you think of it?

Tentative Strength-Based A3 template (#strength #lean)

October 12th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

I had this in mind since quite some time: a revamped A3 template for Lean problem solving, only it is strength-based in that it help its holder discover how to do more of what works.

What do you think of it? Does it work for you? Have you some improvements to propose (other things that work for you that you’re willing to share?)

The file’s under Creative Commons license by-nc-sa/3.0: Attribution, Non-Commercial, Same Alike sharing.

Download it from here: STD SB-A3 v1.0 EN → See new post with latest version here.

A response to Youtellus: The power of questions

I really like this blog post: Youtellus: The power of questions. All the stuff about asking powerful and mind-blowing questions is true and should be practiced all day long.

Yet, this part makes me wonder:

“Leaders and managers have the obligation to always look for ways that the organization as a whole can function more effectively.To do this, they need to ask questions about practices, processes, persons and structures:
Why do we things this way?is there a better approach?”

I mean, do we really need to ask people questions about practices, processes and structures? I guess that if we do, we’d find problems. People rarely get interested in these (I do, but then, I’m a Lean coach, so that doesn’t count because I’m not “normal” 🙂

To be a bit more serious, I was interested in processes at the beginning because I was a sort of productivity geek. But then I understood that improving processes with Lean or Six Sigma was not a matter of using tools. Even further, it was not a process matter.

Improving organization is a people thing.

I don’t mean a social or psychological thing (though these may help, but at the same level as can IT for instance – heck, I am in IT now!) When I say “people” I mean real people, with a head and a heart!

Improving organizations is about taking care of your people and what they care about.

And in the sentence “what they care about“, the important word is not “what” (it’s none of your business) nor is it “care” (how they do it: again, it’s personal to them). What’s important is “they“.

  • If you want money in your pocket as a manager, you won’t be able to motivate people.
  • If you want to improve your organization’s efficiency, you won’t be able to motivate people.
  • If you want to serve your customers better, you won’t be able to motivate your people.

In order to motivate your people, you need to help them identify their WIIFM factor: What’s In It For Me?

You need to ensure your people have identified what motivates them (but they’ll tell you only if they want to). You need to provide them with the support they need from you.

By instituting a permanent Dialogue between your people regarding what and how they want to contribute to the world, you will be able to fuel the change your organization desperately needs. By building on what works for them, they’ll build an organization that will also:

  • work well (efficiency)
  • provide your customers what they want (efficacy)
  • and help them fulfill their dreams
  • which may, in the end, provide some earning for you (and them) as a side effect.

Of course, you need to trust your people to be able to come to an agreement about making a profitable company. But do you sincerely think they’ll imagine something that can’t pay their salary?

If you don’t trust your people, they’ll notice and they won’t trust you. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Try giving first and see what happens. Only a bit, something that you won’t regret afterwards. Notice how it comes back, sometimes bigger. Then, next time, gives a bit more. And a bit bigger next time.

Then ask your people now that you’ve rebuild a trust relationship what they would like from you first.

And then give it to them.

Then see.

Enjoy.

 

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!

 

#Change resistance in others is proportional to our own resistance to change one’s mental model (#stwg #systemsthinking)

Most Change Management activities are geared toward informing, explaining and training people into the change that ought to be done. It’s more or less Coercion Management to me (they conveniently share the same initials by the way).

There’s also the saying that goes “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed“. How true!

It occurred to me that the change resistance we most often sense in others may indeed be the reflection of our own resistance to change our mental models with regard to the situation that needs to be changed.

Which comes down to the assumption (a mental model as well) that there is a reality “out there” and that some view of it may be right when that of others may be wrong (the changer here supposing to have the right – or a righter – view of the situation and thus being allowed and empowered to force the change onto others).

Indeed, the more we push our (unilaterally designed) change, the more people resist. How come? I see two main reasons for that:

  • lack of people involvement in designing the change, with various consequences
  • personal belief to one view of reality only, violating the Law of Requisite Variety (Ross Ashby). Read more »

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 »

How to address Preparation stage of Lean change – #4 in SFMI #Lean series

This article is #4 in a Series about using Solution Focus and Motivational Interviewing to coach CEOs into starting their own Lean journey.

#1 in series gave a broad-brush view of what I intended to write about. Please read it first.

#2 in series addressed the precontemplation stage of change.

#3 in series help reinforce the contemplation stage.

This article deals with the next stage of change: that of Contemplation.

Background on preparation

Following the preceding stages of change, if you’re reading this, it would mean that your CEO is now ready to change himself. Indeed, I remind the occasional reader that the beginning of this series was about having the CEO realize that he was the first person that needed to change. Most CEO know their organization need to change to implement Lean, but they usually don’t expect to change themselves. Yet, if they continue to do what they’ve always done, they’ll get what they always had.

So, the most critical part before being allowed to the preparation stage is that the CEO expressed Commitment to change talk, following MI questions aiming at raising DARN talk (Desire, Ability, Reasons and Need). That was the purpose of articles #2 and #3.

So, the CEO being now committed to change himself, the most important tasks during this stage for the MI coach are to:

  • build confidence in the change to come
  • talk about timing of change
  • present information, options and advice

All the while

  • resisting the urge to push by staying at the client’s place (or pace)

Lean role of CEO

This stage of change differs from preceding ones in that the CEO is expected to build an action plan for the change. There are two possibilities with that:

  1. either he knows how to “behave Lean”
  2. or he doesn’t

I have two responses to these situations, non exclusives and not related specifically to #1 or #2:

  • comfort him that he knows how to do it
  • teach him what he doesn’t know…

With that second point, it’s important to notice we’re still trying to avoid raising his resistance to the change, so any advice or teaching need either:

  • be formally requested by him
  • or gently introduced and asked for permission to tell before telling: “I know a way to achieve that. Would you like me to present it?” It’s also important to note that we’re not behaving as having a definitive knowledge or advice: we want the CEO to adapt what we say to his specific organization and make it his own.

It is now important to recall that Lean is mostly about empowering collaborators to spot problems and imagine solutions that they implement, measure and generalize (standardize in Lean terms) where appropriate, with maximum colleague implications. This is basic PDCA and scientific method.

We certainly don’t want the CEO to solve problems on behalf of employees, for that would prevent them from learning (and he doesn’t have time for that anyway).

The role of a Lean CEO is to coach, on the gemba, his middle managers into coaching, on the gemba, their employees into the scientific method (PDCA) in order to move current processes to a vision of one-piece-flow.

The purpose of this article is not to detail how to do that (they are shelves full of literature on that topic). Suffice it to say that, for instance, D. Jones and J. Womack approach is useful to keep in mind:

  1. identify value
  2. identify value-stream
  3. create flow
  4. pull
  5. aim for perfection

And the two tactics to get there are:

  1. just-in-time
  2. and jidoka (autonomation or automation with a human touch)

This is the strategy the CEO need to have in mind, down to employees and through middle management as well. Always, all the time. This is summed up as 1) continuous improvement with 2) respect for people.

Preparation

So, the main strategy of the coach will be to help the CEO identify what behavior he needs to adopt in order for his people (middle management) to do what he wants them to do in order to do Lean. The what are: continuously, improve, respect and people. The how is what works for the CEO. So, most of the following questions are Solution Focused oriented on purpose.

With this in mind, here are some tentative questions, MI-style, to ask a CEO preparing his own change for some more Lean behaviors (be reminded that it’s always possible to mentor the CEO into Lean knowledge, provided he asks for it or gives you permission to do so – what we want is genuine interest in continuous improvement: Lean tools are only shortcuts to be used where, when and if people want to use them):

  • recalling preceding transformations/projects you managed successfully, what worked well in terms of your own behaviors for having them move on?
  • how do these compare to your current management practices?
  • what first steps would you see yourself doing first? Can you make these smaller? And even smaller? And, of these last ones, what even smaller step could you start doing right now?
  • what other behavior will you start doing tomorrow? What else? 
  • what else?
  • what will you see improve as a result? What else?
  • what is the place in your organization where continuous improvement would benefit more as a starter? What’s been your behavior toward it recently? How would you go about changing it? How will you measure results?
  • suppose a miracle open overnight (without you knowing it since you were sleeping) and all middle-management would adopt Lean behaviors. How would you know in the morning that things have changed? What would you notice first? What would you do to support it?
  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your current management practices regarding continuous improvement? Why not a lesser number? What are you doing that makes you give this score? What else?
  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how important is it for you to change your own behavior? Why not a lower number? What else?
  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how ready are you to starting implementing your new behaviors? Why not a lower number? What else?

Should you have comments on these questions, or other suggestions, feel free to leave a message below!

Stay tuned for #5 episode that will be about the Action phase.

#Lean management & #Complexity: what does it mean and why it works

Cynefin framework

Cynefin framework

Simple times

In the good ol’ days of manufacturing (or service industry), the world was seen as rather simple: you had clients that wanted widgets that you built. For different needs you built different widgets. That’s the simple domain of the Cynefin framework as pictured on the right: you Sensed what the client wanted, you Categorized his need and then Responded to it.

Craft industry was at best for this kind of environment. Few thinking was necessary at that time in order to best serve clients.

Complicated times

Then, progress made clients wanting more (in quality and in diversity). In that realm of Complicated environment, the clients’ requests had to be Sensed, then Analyzed before being Responded to.

In an effort to optimize costs, it’s been decided that making “lots of brainpower” was the way to go and that was the gold days of Taylor: some people were paid to think while others were paid to build the widgets. The best way to build was being thought by brains dedicated to that purpose.

See how thinking is included in the Cynefin framework through the “Analyze” step? Brain power was necessary to efficiently design the methods of work, yet, having it all in one place was enough (in Lean, we would say that there were batches of brainpower, instead of an on-demand usage of brainpower…)

Today: complex times

Today, with such variety in the wild, the world has become Complex because clients can easily connect to a world of other opportunities and their needs reflect that complexity of the world (indeed, they’re trying to match their environment variety to survive, just like our companies). From a Systems Thinking point of view, it means that each client contact is different and there’s so much variation in it that one brain power only cannot feature the requisite variety to properly serve the client. To survive in a Complex world, one has to probe the client’s environment to be able to Sense what’s really needed and only then Respond to the (hopefully correctly understood) need.

One can see here that the thinking has disappeared of the framework, being replaced by a probe and a sense (isn’t it what genchi genbutsu is all about?). That’s where Lean came as a force because:

  • the client needs are really taken seriously, further than just analysis, by being probed and sensed by going to the client’s gemba.
  • to respond to that richly “analysis” of the client needs, the organization needs to be able to quickly respond to it, and that means to be able to quickly adapt to the requisite variety of the client’s environment.

How to you achieve that fast-moving organization? By removing all that is either unnecessary or hindering it from performing as requested by the variety of the client demands. In Lean terms, we speak of removing muda from processes.

Connecting also to Complexity principles, it means making the organization more of an opened system (Lean talks of “extended company”) than a closed one. Closed systems fail prey of the 2nd law of thermodynamics which postulates an increase of entropy, which means more disorder hence less efficiency.

A corollary to the preceding is also that if one wants to maintain order (or even further organize / increase efficiency) and to adapt to the client’s requisite variety, one needs to bring energy to the system, thus reducing entropy.

Continuous improvement doesn’t occur by chance, one has to constantly dedicate resources to it. In a finite world of resources, that means deciding upon which resources are allocated to “work as usual” and resources allocated to improvement (fight against entropy to keep it low).

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