Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Autonomy dynamic model (#systemsthinking from @doingwhatworks article)

SD Analysis of Autonomy

SD Analysis of Autonomy

Reading Coert Visser’s blog post “People prefer to choose for themselves what they initiate and they want to control as much as possible what they do“, I decided to give it a shot at modelling what comes to my mind using my preferred tool of choice: Vensim.

The first analytical thinking through a problematic autonomy situation would be that people’s desire and actions to increase their autonomy is motivated by Others’ action. “Their faulty behavior against me motivates and authorizes my reacting to it“.

Of course, from the view point of others, the same thing happen with us (‘A‘ in the attached diagram).

So, although each actions from A or other tend to reach an equilibrium toward one’s own autonomy desired level (loops B1 and B2), the connection between actions (center of picture, R1) creates an overall reinforcing dynamical structure where A and Others are competing for their autonomy levels. In the end, it’s more than probable that all will loose: a typical loose-loose situation resulting from a “win-loose” mental model.

So, I added, as a proposed solution, that an overall external loop (in dotted lines on the diagram) be added where A and Others exchange on their similar desire to achieve some autonomy, and do listen to and respect the corresponding desire of the partner. In doing so, they might lower their desired autonomy level but in the mean time counter balance the negative and reinforcing loop of their action and we could hope that they reach some form of win-win equilibrium.

That solution can only exist if Dialogue is possible between A and Others.

How are you communicating about problematic situations in your organization? Do you talk them through or do you complain, finger point to one another and stick to phone and mail to fire reactive actions to one another?


 

Reblog: DOING WHAT WORKS: Results of the mini-survey on #solutionfocus assumptions

May 30th, 2011 Posted in Change, Solution Focus Tags: , , , ,

Coert Visser, solution Focus practitioner, recently did a survey on the topic of change. Though the survey was probably answered by people with the same center of interests as him, I find it interesting nonetheless. Or should I given that hypothesis?

Each proposition is linked to a more comprehensive explanation of the answer and what was meant beinh the question. Very interesting!

DOING WHAT WORKS: Results of the mini-survey on solution-focused assumptions.

 

#Changement, #Lean et #systémique: Les comportements d’évitement comme résultat d’une double contrainte

Pour une fois, je me permets un article en français. J’aimerai rappeler cet excellent papier portant sur la théorie de la communicationde l’école de Palo Alto (qui a appliqué la systémique à la communication). Il y est question de la possibilité que certains comportements d’évitement soient le résultat de l’existence d’une double contrainte.

La théorie de la double contrainte a été proposée par l’école de Palo Alto et notamment Gregory Bateson.

L’article joint ci-dessous explique comment ce comportement d’évitement peut être émergent à une situation de double contrainte. Le résultat, vu de l’extérieur, est ce que l’on appellerait de la “résistance au changement”.

Je ne vais pas répliquer le papier dans ce post mais je vous invite à le lire (c’est en français pour une fois !) et à voir comment cette situation ne pourrait pas être une explication au manque de résultat en matière de changement Lean (par exemple).

Le papier a été écrit par Olivier Millet d’Interaction et ChangementsLes comportements d’évitement – opportunité ou fléau.

Carl Rogers concepts #mindmap: a reminder of coaching attitude for #change and #Lean #management

I’ve just uploaded a mindmap out of material I’ve scouted on the net: Carl Rogers concepts MindManager Map.

I find Carl Rogers position toward people very interesting and something terribly necessary to have in mind when considering changing organizations (either using Lean or Systems Thinking), because it reminds us that:

  • things did not occurred out of nothing
  • the system (organization) is perfectly adapted to do what it does (hence the difficulty of changing it)
  • everything currently being done makes sense to the people working inside the system

It reminds me of that Socrates quote: “All I know is that I know nothing“.

All of this is highly impregnated of Systems Thinking stuff: people adapt to their environment (the system around them), which allows them to change it for their own purpose, which will retro-act on themselves. It concludes that people are adapted to the variety of the system around them and, corolarly, that someone outside of the system can’t have the requisite variety. So it’s a necessity to be unconditionnally accepting of the collaborators.

Also, because a change is perceived as a threat (whether consciously or not), a perfectly safe environment must be set up (between the coach and the manager or the manager and the employees) for the new experience to be integrated and make sense of. This environment mwill be in the relationships established between employees and their management.

 

#Change Resistance as viewed from a #systemsthinking point of view

Thinking to that well talked about subject (232,000 results in google for “Chance Resistance” – quoted included), I decided to give it a shot… The result if the image below (click on it to zoom it).

Systems Dynamics view of Change resistance

Systems Dynamics view of Change resistance

You start in the upper right corner: there a change needed and a suspected resistance to change from the system that needs to be changed. So, the change plan is devised without too much involving the soon-to-be impacted people, to avoid raising their resistance to change. The result, once the change plan is rolled on, is double: a lack of requisite variety of the plan to the impacted people and their local situation and a feeling that everything’s been already decided. Both feelings generate some form of resistance (active in the first case, passive in the second, a form of hopelessness). They add up to form an actual change resistance. This actual resistance then confirms the supposed change resistance and also the measures taken to prevent further resistance.

In the end, this is a nice reinforcing loop or self-fulfilling prophecy.

What can be done to it? Well, a short answer could be to kill the loop by not assuming that there is resistance to change AND do whatever is necessary not to raise this resistance:

  • involve soon-to-be impacted people as early as possible so they can own the process
  • and involve them so they can adapt the required change to their specific variety so that the change is assured to be will fitted to the system to be change

Don’t be afraid of change resistance: just don’t awake it yourself!

 

Kurt Lewin model of #change and #Lean management

Traditional change models

Kurt Lewin has devised a change model known as “unfreeze-change-freeze“: clever as it is (by highlighting the fact that before changing, there’s a necessary step required to unlock the current status quo), it may not be quite adapted to Lean management as people need to indeed be in constant change when doing Lean and constantly identify new ways of improving things: so the “freeze” part is not what is expected from people in a Lean environment. Initiating a change approach would mean to start to “unfreeze-change-change-change-change-…” or, as most Lean expert would tell you: “unfreeze-change-unfreeze-change-unfreeze-change-…”

The ADKAR model of change is better to this respect because it insists on the need to reinforce the new behavior. Yet, the aspect of diffusing the change throughout the company where it could apply (process known in Lean under the name “yokoten“) and constantly improving upon it (through constant change to the “standard”) is not addressed.

Underlying mental models

There has been some implicit mental models at play in these two kind of change models (other change models feature the same underlying mental models):

  • that you can decide of a change and impose it on collaborators (lack of respect for people) or worse, on a system (worse because the system will resist it) – the Lewin model may be the worst with this respect;
  • that you can invest in the change and once it’s done, you can move on to something else: some change models even advocate for burning the bridges to move back to before (again, flagrant lack of respect for people).
  • and, worse of all (in my mind at least!) that people are dumbly resistant to any change.

For this last point, the ADKAR model tries to address this by Describing the change to impacted people: better than nothing, but still a form of coercion (or intellectual extorsion).

Changing one’s own mental models about change

When you get rid of clinging to these mental bonds, you can discover a whole new world where people are indeed attracted to change, provided it helps them and their customers. The key word here may well be “and“. Moreover, to ensure that the change is indeed what is really needed, management also has to get rid of its role of general problem solver in place of collaborators: that just removes the fun out of the work from those doing it and deprives them from any intellectual challenge, again, a lack of respect of people.

 

Scientific method illustration

Scientific method from http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/scientific-experiments/scientific-method6.htm

 

In this sense, Lean is very postmodern in its approach to change in that it moves well away from Taylorism and gives back the key to change to the very people doing the work. Even the need to change is given back to collaborators: one would not change something that needn’t; again, only those doing the work can decide about the necessity to change. I’d even dare to say that Lean may well be post-postmodern in its approach to collaborators and change in that it just doesn’t move from a blissful consideration of collaborators (as I’m sure some see postmodernism in organizations) but keeps the link with the modern approach and use of the scientific method (through the rigorous use of Plan-Do-Check-Act and fact based approach to improvements). A very nice blend of modernism and post-modernism.

What’s required for postmodern changes

Last point, this new way of seeing change is very different in that it requires constant monitoring of the need to change and the application of the scientific method to assess the effect of current change. And, the big learning here is: without constant investment in continuous improvement, it just won’t be… well continuous. That means that management, at all levels of the organization, needs to constantly invest time and efforts in challenging current status quo and encourages their collaborators to look for the need to change and what to change to, for the triple benefit of the customers, themselves and the company (a result of the two preceding benefits).

If one would look to the (unactionable) root cause of inertia, it would probably be found in the “bounded rationality” of human mind. Yet, knowing this, one has to constantly invest in fighting it, using the most intelligent means for that: constant monitoring of the environment and whether the organization is well adapted to it and, counterpart, whether it needs to change to adapt to it or not. By now, you’ve probably see where I end up: with the concept of requisite variety and the proper design of viable organizations. Topic for another article…

Some old wise man said that’s it’s a shame to see so many people wanting others to change and so few willing to change themselves. Gandhi himself told us that we need to be the change we want to see in the world.

Managers need to embody the change they want to see in their teams. First.

 

 

Reblog: How do I change the culture? (#Lean)

May 4th, 2011 Posted in Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , , ,

Michael Ballé has an interesting  (but long) post about his views regarding changing a company culture in order to sustain Lean management. Included at the beginning is some background about him that might light up his stance on Lean that can be read in his two excellent books: The Gold Mine (which got the Shingo Prize) and The Lean Manager.

While I’m talking about Michael, here is the book that got me started on Systems Thinking (written by the guy, of course): Managing with Systems Thinking.

#Lean and #SystemsThinking: Jeff Liker: Resist your machine thinking! The Lean Edge

Here is an article from renowned Jeffrey Liker about Lean and Systems Thinking.

Jeff Liker: Resist your machine thinking! » The Lean Edge.

To be adapted to your changing environment, you need to constantly adapt your system to it so it features that requisite variety as requested by its environment to achieve the desired purpose. If you don’t, your system’s variety will less and less be adapted to that of its environment, and thus its performance will degrade over time.

 

Some thoughts about what #positive #lean could be by mixing #AppreciativeInquiry and #SolutionFocus

I’ve been thinking lately of what some less deficit-based or more positive-based Lean could be. I know three kind of positive approaches:

  • Appreciative Inquiry, more geared toward identifying what gives life to people, what interests them;
  • Solution Focus, which tries to identify what works or has worked and do more of it;
  • Positive Deviance, which allow a group to identify people (the positive deviant) that achieve a definite purpose in the same condition as others who do not.

What I find interesting in these approaches is that I find them far more powerful when it comes to motivating people to change. Because they appeal to what people really want or like to do. Surely enough, epople do want to solve problems, but only to the extent that it allows them to move toward something that they feel interested in, something that serves them in one way or the other.

Read more »

#AppreciativeInquiry with Teams: an article by Gervase Bushe – use it for #Lean

Here is a very interesting article I stumbled upon from Gervase Bushe: Appreciative Inquiry with Teams.

The article gives different way of using Appreciative Inquiry with teams to help them solve issues and perform more rapidly (in the case of a newly formed team). Both dos and don’ts are proposed.

I find this paper really interesting in the context of introducing teams to Lean and using some appreciative or positive approach for that purpose (the paper also mentioned some Solution Focused approach, though without naming it).

This is the kind of straightforward and very operational paper that lights your mind and that you know how you could put is to its best use (or give it your best try in order to learn by doing).

Thanks Mr Bushe!

 

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