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.

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!

 









Reblog @HarvardBiz : Can You Invent Something New If Your Words Are Old?

A nice post that makes you think: Can You Invent Something New If Your Words Are Old?

Lean is deficit-based in its language: what problem do we need to fix? What failure demand do we need to take care of? What’s the gap between where you are now (bad) and where you want to be (customer need)?

Hopefully, I see the glimpse of positive change here and there:

  • Lean Startup is gaining a lot of traction when it comes to doing just what the customer want but with a constant thrust to find more and more added value, even in the form customer didn’t know they had a need for. Lean startup is also starting to be use elsewhere, like in Lean Change for instance by Jason Little.
  • Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma by David Shaked which specifically addresses this (disclaimer: I reviewed the book). The book is due on November 4th.
  • And of course the usual positive suspects (deficit word, again!): Appreciative Inquiry, Solution Focus, Positive Deviance, and much more.

In my book (“The Colors of Change“), I make the case for strength-based change approaches and explain why we don’t use them naturally (why it’s normal to fail), what can we do instead, and list some of the change approaches that I feel are strength-based and make use of a different language to achieve different (and better!) results.

Using a different language, we can co-construct a different reality, and, experimenting it, we can confirm and reinforce our thinking that this indeed works better. It’s usually better because of the absence of so-called “resistance to change”, learning step, etc.

Don’t try to match reality to your dreams (it will just reinforce the gap).

Don’t try to force your dreams onto reality (you’ll find resistance).

Instead, do search for your dreams in reality. I bet you’ll find them!









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.









#lkfr12 : Strength-based Kanban : slides, interview guide and final handout available!

October 23rd, 2012 Posted in Lean, Strengths Tags: , , , , , ,
This year (2012) was the first edition of Lean Kanban France. David Shaked and myself facilitated a workshop about “strength-based kanban” to be used both as a tool and metaphor to boost one’s own coaching skills (whether to coach Lean or Kanban… or whatever!).

Here are the documents:

  • slides,
  • 1st generation handout (interview guide used for people to interview each other during the workshop)
  • and 2nd generation version of a strength-based kanban which you are encouraged to use, improve

…all the while to keep us informed of what great things you did with it!

Meanwhile, should you like to participate in the strength-based (r)evolution of Lean, feel free to join others on the Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma LinkedIn discussion group.

 









Reblog: The art of #SystemsThinking in driving sustainable transformation | @GuardianNews @JoConfino #stwg

This morning, I had the pleasure to read a really excellent article about what Systems Thinking can bring to organizations (and the world) and what enabling people to move toward the positive can further do to enhance that (much like what Appreciative Inquiry, Solution Focus or other strength-based change approaches can do, for instance).

Well done, @JoConfino!

via The art of systems thinking in driving sustainable transformation | Guardian Sustainable Business | Guardian Professional.









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