All tagged systems thinking
Systems thinking guides us to step back and look at the system. What created the environment in which the error occurred? Even beyond “errors”, what makes the system operate in some way that we find objectionable? What is the system that we are describing? What do we WANT from the system? Then we can dive in and look for understanding behind what is creating the undesirable results. It is incredibly rare that the root cause can be placed at the foot of an individual. It’s the system.
Andrey Salomatin has started a nice series on Theory of Constraints in software startups: "Systems thinking in management" and "Work hard enough and you won’t finish anything" and "I bet you look good on the plant floor." I'm wondering if there will be more in the series.
A client sent a link to Tom Wujec's TED Scotland 2013 talk, Got a Wicked Problem? First, tell me how you make toast. His idea is to use drawing and visualization to help people bring clarity to their problems. And I pick up on the idea of allowing ourselves to iterate around the visualization as being important to understanding the deeper system.
An old post from Donald Reinertsen on "The Cult of the Root Cause" got me thinking about our use of logic and over-reliance on tools. He describes over-reliance on the Five Whys without applying some common sense. And I add some of my own thoughts on top.
The larger Theory of Constraints community has been a great source of business novels over the past year. My latest find is The Human Constraint by Angela Montgomery. The story was compelling, and I thought the approach to talking about the formal process was very light-handed with just enough to make me curious to find more.
It's a short book, meant to be a quick read and guide to start thinking about thinking. Or maybe, more accurately, to get people doing something differently about thinking. The tone is light, but insistent - change the way you think to create fantastic new solutions.
Is the goal of a for-profit company to "make more money, now and in the future"? I suppose it depends on how you define the terms.
Big Visible posted a great photo / poster a few weeks ago with their article Velocity Is Like A Helium Balloon. While their focus is Agile development, the thinking behind it can be applied to just about any area of improvement. "Velocity is like a helium balloon. It will rise on its own, if nothing is holding it down!"
A great discussion of systems thinking by Fred Kofman, which ties into much of what the folks in the Theory of Constraints camp talk about. In the first minute, he says several times some version of, "To optimize the overall system, you must sub-optimize the subsystems."
Are successes because of the design or despite the design? What about failures?
Thomas Corbett's _Throughput Accounting_ is a quick read and very familiar for someone who has been in the Theory of Constraints world. I wonder if anyone comes to TOC via this route, rather than through The Goal and some of the other business novels.
This book is a collection of 122 management f/laws described by Ackoff and compiled and updated by Herbert Addison. Good fun.
Bill Dettmer has a new article on how management tools fit into the Cynefin framework. This builds on ideas I've heard directly from Dave Snowden as well as those discussed elsewhere by people interested in Cynefin as applied to various approaches.
The organization is a system. If a piece of that system is taken away, then that system changes.
Information overload can be considered an individual problem to be solved by many of the rules I've written about in my own journey around personal effectiveness. Or it can be thought of as part of a larger system of people interacting that needs to be addressed with a systematic approach.
A colleague forwarded a copy of "Manage a Living system, Not a Ledger" by H. Thomas Johnson. It is a great discussion of why traditional financial measures, while required for accounting reporting, are terrible for internal decision making.