Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
Home » Posts tagged 'change' (Page 17)

RB: 20 Reasons Your Company Won’t #Change

December 20th, 2010 Posted in Change Tags: ,

Here’s a great article from Matthew E. May: 20 Reasons Your Company Won’t Change : The World :: American Express OPEN Forum.

So, what’s the solution? Just do it?

My answer: probably 🙂 But it may be a bit more difficult.

I have a nice change methodology I’ve read about somewhere on the web. 3 steps.

There’s a perfect way to prepare and drink tea, according to ancient canons:

  1. heat water
  2. pour on tea
  3. drink

Only it has to be the exact kind of water, precise temperature and mindful attention to drinking.

I have the same recipe for change:

  1. Establish Vision
  2. Foster Dialogue
  3. Praise Quick Results

#Change, #Lean or #SystemsThinking avoidance, a response to double-bind situations?

December 20th, 2010 Posted in Change, Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , , ,

I wanted to give you a few words on an interesting paper I’ve read some time ago (in french only) that postulates that change resistance and avoidance behaviors with regard to change may be the emergent result of a double bind situation. I then below elaborate on the possibility that it’s a reason for resistance to the use of Systems Thinking in favor of the more traditional Analytical Thinking (AT).

The paper was available on http://www.approchesystemique.net/XAccueil/index.php (titled: “Les comportements d’évitement : opportunité ou fléau pour l’apprentissage organisationnel”), a site dedicated to systemic approach as devised by the Palo Alto school (Mental Research Institute, works from D. Johnson, G. Bateson, P. Watzlawick mainly) applied to organizations. It has disappeared, that’s why I’m republishing it here.

The paper elaborates on the idea that avoidance behaviors may be the emergent “qualities” of a double bind context. That avoidance behavior may result from a situation in which some people (the person(s) resisting change) are trapped in a double bind as a result of a context of search for efficiency and permanent, accelerated calling into question of work conditions. This context may be generating anxiety for impacted people that it binds. When meta-communication is not possible in this context, then appears the double bind situation.

Read more »

#Lean may need real coaches at the beginning

December 14th, 2010 Posted in Change, Lean Tags: , , ,

There are things that we just do more easily when someone is doing them with us or accompanying us in order for us to do them. These are generally the not-so-sexy-things-to-do: fat-loosing-sports, medical appointment, and on a more general scale, anything that is not bringing us satisfaction on the short term. Like continuous improvement.

If it doesn’t hurt enough, you won’t change.

So you really need to be in a catastrophic situation to ponder the possibility to change (and even then… but that’s for another article).

What’s the problem?

I think we have some very experienced Lean senseïs or Lean consultants. A whole bunch of them can be seen on The Lean Edge. I know some of them and I wouldn’t call them… gentle. Experienced? Efficient? Right to the point? Definitely! But not that pushy for clients not ready to commit deeply to what Lean requires from them. These consultants are more on the style of “either you badly want it or I leave”. Which is somewhat fine since there are quite a number of people wanting to embark on the Lean journey and there are indeed very few of these consultants. Which is a way for them to filter their clients, I guess (or a form of Lean efficiency: don’t accept bad products from the preceding step in the process – the defects there being a lack of motivation to do Lean).

What we have here is a self reinforcing loop whose limit is the maximum number of clients the consultant can handle:

Lean consultant fame system dynamics diagram

Lean consultant fame system dynamics diagram

Like all growing loop, this one exhibit an exponential growth behavior:

Lean consultants fame graphic

Lean consultants fame graphic

Of course, there’s an increasing stock outside of frustrated clients that can’t be served by the famous consultants.

We also know that there are a whole lot of clients that tried Lean and failed to continue with it. We can blame the clients for not doing what Lean required of them (deep commitment). And this is in some way true and the underlying assumtion done by the famous consultants I spoke of just above (or the easy way for them to select clients). And, by coming to this conclusion, this is also the underlying assumtions of the (not as famous but still skillful) other consultants. Indeed, by accepting unmotivated clients, you get fewer results, which confirms you that your clients were unmotivated. This is indeed a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But what would happen if we’d take the assumption that the clients are willing to do Lean but need some motivation to do it before doing the real stuff?

Read more »

Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Building Adoption of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization

December 10th, 2010 Posted in Change, Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , , ,

This is an interesting blog entry of John Hunter (Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Building Adoption of Management Improvement Ideas in Your Organization).

It might well be studied as a way to go to increase Systems Thinking into management (and employees) heads.

Yet, I’m more wary of the focus on tools because of the risk of commoditization of what is being introduced (Lean or else). I’ve written about this already.

It also relates to The Chasm and the gap between early adopters and the early majority. Hard work is required to cross the chasm.

Change resistance bell curve

Change resistance bell curve featuring The Chasm

Could it be that Innovators and Early Adopters are quickly and easily building a vision of where they might end with the new, that get them moving into that direction? Wouldn’t trying to work on a better mental image of the future help in trying to make resistant people adopt the change?

Regarding Lean, we have now quite some company that went for a Lean management system. Some were highly successful, other less, but it seems hat failure is generally associated with either not believing in Lean (self-fulfilling prophecy) or not doing “real Lean” (which generally means that Lean activities have been focused on tools and not on the management that should go with them – that’s L.AM.E. (Lean As Mistakenly Executed))

Change This – Radical Management: Mastering the Art of Continuous Innovation

I’ve posted yesterday about a book I’ve heard of: Radical Management: Mastering the Art of Continuous Innovation.

Now, in my mailbox today, I can see the lastest ChangeThis newsletter with a presentation of Steve Denning’s ideas which he details in his book. The manifesto is here: Change This – Radical Management: Mastering the Art of Continuous Innovation.

I’m happy that I’ve read this manifesto, because it allows me to understand more about what that style of management is all about. And I must say that I like it even more!

Being an idea-connector as I am, I can’t help but connect the principles that Mr Denning proposes to the ones I’m more used to. Here they are.

What are the 7 principles?

First, a quick reminder of the seven principles Mr Denning proposes:

  1. The purpose of work is to delight clients through value innovation
  2. Work should be carried out in self-organizing teams
  3. Work should be done in client-driven iterations
  4. Each iteration should deliver value to clients
  5. Total openness: everyone levels with everyone
  6. The workplace is a context in which teams themselves want to improve
  7. Management communicates through interactive conversations

I shall now link these very interesting propositions with the main topics of this blog and show how I feel they relate to one another.

Lean

Lean is a total management system encompassing the whole organization. Or it should be. One of the fundamental principle of Lean is that you must give customers what they want, at the moment they want it, in the quantity they want, all by reducing their burden to buy it from you. As Lean is rather radical in its force to move toward this direction, it means that to reduce your costs, you also need to reduce your turnover and the best way to do that is to give back some power to your employees and take care of them. You need to let them use their mind as to what and how the company can be improved and how they can best work to best serve your customers.

As the driving obsession of Lean is to achieve all that through the mean of reducing the delay between the moment a customer makes a request and the moment you’ve collected the money he gave you in purchase of your product or service, this means that you should try to deliver any products to any customer requesting it (that’s one-piece-flow behind it, for sure).

I relate this to Mr Denning’s points #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5.

Systems Thinking

Systems Thinking is a way of thinking of systems (as defined as a collection of parts related to each others) that allows to see the forest despite the trees. Indeed, the whole has some (emergent) properties worth studying that you can’t see when only studying the parts. There’s a lot more behind this sole sentence and diverse methods to help you achieve that.

One method that I find especially visible through Mr Denning presentation of Radical Management is that of the Viable System Model by Stafford Beer. I’ve uploaded a diagram presenting what the VSM is (same letters, but different than the Lean “Value Stream Map”) behind this link.

Mr Denning’s Radical Management points #2 especially relates to the system law of requisite variety. According to this law, which is a building principle of the Viable System Model, small teams have a better chance of matching the environment’s variety than some top management up the hierarchical ladder. Hence, autonomous teams, all working under the same vision or in the same direction (as set by point #1) are a must. In this view, point #7 might be seen as a new way of interacting with teams corresponding to System 2 in charge of interactions and conflicts between autonomous systems 1 (teams).

Besides, when you have the autonomy to work the way you want, you’re more willing to improve your own work conditions than if they’re imposed on you by some management far away. That’s point #6.

Strength-based approaches to management

I’ve already covered the 7 points. Yet, although it’s not explicitely stated in the manifesto which I link at the beginning of the article, I have the feeling that the whole radical management system is somewhat more strength-based than traditional management approaches. Indeed, when you’re talking of “delighting clients” (#1), “delivering value” (#4), “openness” (#5) and “interactive conversations” (#7), you’re more likely to deal with what works and motivates people than seeking to assign blame for problems.

Conclusion

All in all, Radical Management seems to be a very good approach to management, with a nicely put combination of Lean, Systems Thinking and Strength-based approaches to management. Being from a Lean background mainly, I can only regret that of all the fantastic Lean books available, people only remember the tools part and not the management part. That’s similar to trying to use some powerful tool without reading the accompanying instructions: no wonder you end up hurting people.

So, if some management book can focus readers on improving their management skills, so far so good! We’re in desperate need of some new style of management and Radical Management, in my opinion, greatly fills the gaps.

Leader’s Guide to Radical Management & #Lean transformation

December 9th, 2010 Posted in Change, Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , ,

Here is a nice blog article about a book I have not read (isn’t it great? I’m talking about someone’s talk about something I have not read! Internet’s so fantastic…)

Guru Review: Leader’s Guide to Radical Management | Matthew E. May.

I relate what is said about the book to whole systems change and Donella Meadows 12 leverage points of Systems.

What it seems is said in this book is that because the goal (and even the Paradigm) of the Prisons changed, the whole system changed as a result. Of the 12 leverage point, goal changing is number #3 most efficient in changing a system and Paradigm change is even #2.

And yes, this is radical (hence the title).

Of course, when you decide to go for Lean, you enter, knowingly or not, that same kind of change.

By “doing Lean”, you can go for:

  • reducing stocks (=buffers), which is leverage point #11
  • changing the structure of stocks, leverage point #10
  • reducing delays of processes, hence feedback between beginning and end, in order to change the way the process works according to its output, leverage point #9
  • putting visual management all other the place and ensure that everybody looks at them at least once a day, to share information, leverage point #6
  • promoting problem sharing rather than fingerpointing, leverage point #5
  • empowering employees to change what needs to be changed to achieve what is expected, leverage point #4
  • changing the goal of the organization: delighting customers rather than producing widgets, leverage point #3
  • changing the paradigm of the organization: simultaneously develop employees, delight customers and reduce costs, leverage point #2

Of course, when you do Lean, you do all of the preceding points, and then more.

All parts that make Lean what it is are related to oneanother. Remove any one of them (a fortiori more than one), and the whole thing start to work less efficiently. Then, one could say the Lean is a system by and in itself. But I won’t claim it high and loud, for fear of starting a flamewar on this blog 😉

ReBlog: Avoid Creating Resistance To #Change

November 30th, 2010 Posted in Change, Systems Thinking Tags: ,

I have just stumbled upon this nice blog article: “Avoid Creating Resistance To Change – A Change Managment Tip“.

The rest of the blog features some interesting articles as well!

In short: use systems thinking, without using bad words.

The LinkedIn group “Systems Thinking World” features a number of discussions about that very same topic as well.

Why I think Lean is (also) strength-based

November 10th, 2010 Posted in Appreciative Inquiry, Change, Lean Tags: , ,

A lot of people from the strength movement (Appreciative Inquiry, Solution Focus, etc.) view Lean as a deficit-based only approach to change. I disagree. Or at least I’d like to temper this idea.

Although it’s mainly presented that way in most litterature, I do view it as a very positive approach to change. Only often the positive future is mainly in the senseï‘s head (term for a Lean coach). When “doing Lean” in an organization, what the Lean coach is trying to achieve is have people (and management) make more of what works in other organizations. That’s what so-called “Lean tools” are: demonstrated best practices principles to improve an organization. Management and collaborators should always devise their way of improving their own jobs (because that creates more engagement), it’s sometimes quicker to reuse and adapt best practices that worked elsewhere.

Lean tools (with accompanying management model) are designed to show a gap between what’s wanted (a better view of the future) and what’s currently happening. And this gap may be a deficit OR a strength as reality could be better than what was intended at the beginning. Hence, collaborators have the opportunity to detect strengths and replicate them (we call this “standardize” in Lean terms).

Now I’m not saying Lean isn’t also deficit based. It does look at under-performance and ask collaborators to solve problems but only in order to achieve excellence (very positive vision).

Of course, all that I talked about above is true when Lean is “properly” done, which means that some policy deployment (“hoshin kanri“) has been done and that all collaborators had the opportunity to imagine a better future and ways to achieve it. Though Appreciative Inquiry is not mentioned in that part of Lean, I view policy deployement as a way to Dream about a better future. The Discovery (Inquiry) part may be missing in policy deployment, but it surely is present in day to day operations (or should be, and that’s the role of management of ensuring that both problems AND strengths are discovered – problems get fixed and strengths replicated).

Oh, and strengths (or solutions to problems) need also to be discussed with other team members, so collective inquiry into improving / replicating strengths is indeed present. This is done through creation of “A3” (named after the size of the paper on which that activity is done) where a situation is collectively discussed and ways of improving it (possibly by replicating what others may be already doing) collected and shared.

To end this article, I’d like to advocate people that would like to reinforce the strength-based approach of Lean to participate in the LinkedIn group “Strength-Based Lean Thinking / Six Sigma

Mindmap: Solution Focus

November 4th, 2010 Posted in Change Tags: , ,

Out of the strength-based approaches to change, there is one which is called “Solution Focus”. Out of a book written by Paul Z Jackson and Mark McKergow, the approach focuses on finding solutions that had, are and would work to solve the problem at hand.

The typical process goes something as follow:

  • Establish a platform: convert the problem or issue to an image of what already once worked (kind of similar to Discovery of Appreciative Inquiry)
  • Future Perfect: using the miracle question, imagine the perfect future in the case where the issue disappeared overnight.
  • Scale: if 10 is Future Perfect and 1 is the opposite, where are you now?
  • Look at counters: what resources, knowledge, skills and experience from the Future Perfect is already present today?
  • Affirm: affirm current & present counters that can help you move forward.
  • Small Actions: what can you do today to move to next step (+1) on the scale and collect more counters?

I did a mindmap out of the material I found on the net and uploaded it onto BiggerPlate. Go check it out!

Mail List

Join the mailing list

Check your email and confirm the subscription