Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Nobody Ever Gets Credit for Fixing Problems that Never Happened (Creating & Sustaining Process Improvement) #Lean paper #stwg

Here’s a fundamental paper that explains some of the difficulties of introducing and sustaining Lean in companies, from a Systems Thinking (Systems Dynamics to be more precise) point of view.

The paper has been authored by John Sterman and Nelson Repenning and is available here.

The paper’s very didactic and takes the reader by the hand into building the diagram step by step.

A #systemsthinking explanation of lack of respect for people (fundamental #lean pillar)

I have recently finished reading this excellent paper from Raul Espejo regarding the law of requisite variety: “Giving Requisite Variety to Strategic and Implementation Processes: Theory and Practice“. Espejo is a person to read if you’re interested in the Viable System Model (see corresponding articles on this blog and my delicious bookmarks on VSM) as created by Stafford Beer.

In this paper, Espejo make the stunning comment that (I quote, emphasis mine, excerpted from page 3):

“[…] many organisations are still driven by the hierarchical paradigm that assumes the distinctions made at the top are the only relevant ones, which implies that people at lower levels are there only to implement them, but not to make distinctions of their own. Therefore the assumption is that the complexity of a senior manager is much greater than that of a professional in the production line. Somehow it is assumed that people at the top have much bigger brains than those working at ‘lower’ levels. Since they don’t, the space of creative action at ‘lower levels has had to be reduced. The assumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. This becomes manifest when power is exercised by enforcing distinctions made at corporate levels to construct a limited context of action for the majority in the organisation.”

The last emphasized sentence is insightful for me: “The assumption becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy”. What is meant is that with top management having a mental model of having bigger brains than people at lower hierarchical levels, they take on more decisions than people below them. This mental model then hinders learning from the very people that top management would probably want to have bigger brain but that they prevent them from developing… Management complains about employees being cogs in the machine, but, because they think they are, they remove every opportunity for them to turn back to being human and use their brain, which makes them further into cogs.

Another case of espoused-theory vs. theory-in-use, I guess.

In Lean, we say that management should act as coaches to their reporting collaborators and don’t give them answers (we even encourage management to let their employees fail in order to learn). It may be slower on the short-term, but probably the best way to grow them and increase productivity and morale in the longer term.

How many times today have you solved someone else’s problem?

I hope you’ll solve less tomorrow…

#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.

History: Thoughts and Theories of Scientific #Management (up to #Lean)

May 26th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , ,

Here is a nice paper I found on Internet that readers of this blog may also be interested in. It talks of early 20th century management experts (Taylor, Gantt, the Gilbreth, Ohno…) that helped created scientific management as it’s known today.

Well, I place TPS on a different step than scientific management, because it involves people more from the head than pure scientific management that involves them from the hands only. Yet, nowadays, trends have it that people should be involved from the heart first. More on this in other blog articles.

We can also trace back in this document the early considerations that were given to employees and that ended up in “Respect for People” at Toyota as early as 20th century.

Here is the MS Word file: Thoughts and Theories of Scientific Management.

(The web site I appeared to have downloaded this file had its hosting expired on 2011, May 17th. Hopefully the file is now saved here!)


Nine different #TWI summary cards available in modern format

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

TWI created some pocket summary cards for all their training programs:

  • Job Instruction
  • Job Methods
  • Job Relations
  • Program Development

But there’s been some other cards as well. Thanks to Mark Warren who provided the scans, I’ve turned all those cards into modern versions (wording exactly as original, except for © that sometimes was removed due to lack of space).

All the preceding cards are available in PDF, plus some other cards too that you might not have known about:

  • Using Job Instruction (a guide for second line supervisors)
  • Management Problem Solving
  • Conference Leading: How to run a conference
  • Conference Leading: How to prepare for a conference
  • Discussion Leading

All these files are available on the TWI Yahoo Mailing list in the files section. Please note that you need to subscribe to the list in order to access the files; that’s a good thing since there are interesting discussions going on!

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