Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Why do people don’t adopt #systemsthinking?

This is a recurring question in the LinkedIn forum “Systems Thinking World” hosted by Gene Bellinger. And one that haven’t had any satisfactorily answer so far.

Indeed, I think that the opposite question is valid too and even provides a hint as to one possible answer: “why do people using systems thinking don’t reverse to another way of thinking?

A more general question might be “why do people think the way they think?

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What are “good” #questions? (#strengths with @alexis8nicolas)

May 20th, 2014 Posted in Strength Tags: , , ,

Well, is this question a good question in itself? I’ll let you answer it after reading what follows.

This came out of an exchange with a friend and colleague: Alexis from YisY.

A good question is one that serve the purpose of the person asking it, obviously. It would be a bit long to explain what our purpose is with Alexis (hint: we’ve developed a kind of workshop to help people grow using “soft” social technologies which we named “Laboratory of Social Technologies” and a provisional french only leaflet is available here), but here’s what I came to.

If you have complementary criteria, please contribute in the comments below!

So, good questions might be:

  • questions that seek what is rather than what isn’t: they work from strengths (what you want, what you do that works, what you desire, etc.)
  • questions that bring closer rather than move away: they help bring ideas or people close rather than move them apart
  • questions that encourage collaborative rather than individual answers: they foster social constructionism or collective intelligence, if not wild emergence
  • open rather than closed questions: they make people think something new/more profound rather than stay on the surface and elicit automatic response
  • exploratory rather than justificatory questions: they invite “why if?” rather than “whose fault?”
  • questions that stretch rather than contract: they help people grow rather than force them to stay at their place
  • questions that encourage rather than threat: they help develop people rather than command them

What are your good questions?

Connecting #Holacracy with #VSM (Viable System Model) – there’s hope yet!

I’ve been reading quite some stuff recently on Holacracy, and I think it would make for a very nice mashup with the Viable System Model. Here’s how:

  • The circles look a lot to me like Systems 1 and a hierarchy of them (super-circles, sub-circles) smells like VSM recursive levels to me. If you add that you can have Cross Link representatives (connecting circles that are not hierarchically connected), that starts to looks like true recursivity to me.
  • Then, you have the “process breakdown” part of the constitution that, to me again, is a way to detect unmatched variety at some level and pass it up the hierarchy/recursivity for managing (System 2)
  • And of course, the Lead Link/Rep Link roles match somewhat naturally with the vertical channels: the ones going down from system 3 to System 1 and up through System 2 as well.
  • Separation between operational meetings and governance meetings would fit well with an S3/S1 separation as well
  • Holacracy incorporates some features of the personal productivity method “Getting Things Done” (GTD) from David Allen, and this obviously would make for a very nice addition to a VSM-based organization (or any other one for that matter).

Indeed, Holacracy looks like a very nice way of running a VSM at whatever level you consider it. Where people might mismatch a VSM organization for a hierarchical one, having circles one inside another as a way to feature the recursive nature of VSM and at the same time having each circle functioning as a viably entity in its own would be a great addition. Holacracy doesn’t address the viability of circles explicitly, yet it provides for some nice alerting mechanisms (algedonic signals in VSM terms) that would allow to bootstrap viability.

Where VSM brings a bit more to the picture, to me, is with its specific focus on the Environment (bringing the outside in, something that Steve Denning identified on Forbes) and the explicit focus on the Future and Ethos through System 4 and 5.

What do you think?

What’s your best #book about #strategy deployment / #hoshin #kanri in #Lean?

March 18th, 2014 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

The topic says it all. I’ve read (but someone lost it 😉 Pascal Dennis’ “Getting the Right Things Done” and loved it at the time. But before I order the book again, I wondered if there wouldn’t be others worth considering (given that I still remember most of it)?

I did have a quick look a few years ago in “Hoshin Kanri for the Lean Enterprise” by Thomas L. Jackson, but it seemed a bit complicated at the time. But I will welcome any opposing arguments!

Please provide hints in comments below (or through Twitter at @nicolasstampf). Thank you very much!


Glass in half – A #strength-based #Lean perspective compared to other mental models…

March 11th, 2014 Posted in Lean, Strength Tags: , , ,

Someone just posted this on LinkedIn and I thought I might add my own vision of it (I don’t have the original from LeanPost):

half glass




This cartoon lacks a fourth picture, that of the strength-based Lean thinker (besides, does someone around here remember that Lean is indeed a business model [that is, to create value!], and not a cost-cutting program?!)

Woohoo, we already know how to fill half of the glass, and guess what, we still have room to have twice of it. We can do more!

The paradox of improvement and #change in a #deficit or #strength-based vision of the world…

I was considering change this morning, in the context of how the brain, as a complex adaptive system, deals with it (this is explained in my book “The Colors of Change“).

When you work from a deficit-based perspective on life (that is, you have a vision or an ideal in mind and all you see are gaps between it and reality around you, that is, problems):

It’s easy to point out problems, but it’s difficult to solve them.

It’s difficult because you will want to fill a gap using things absent. Which is difficult obviously.

On the contrary, when working from a strength-based mindset, the situation is just the opposite:

It’s hard to point out strengths, but it’s easy to improve on them.

Because strengths are so easy to use, they are hardly noticed on first sight, especially by the person expressing them. For others, it’s a bit easier because someone’s strengths might look so different to one’s own mental model that singling them out is easy.

As for improving, well, the person exercising a strength needs to notice it first before being able to do more of it. But once it’s made visible again (using a slight shift in perspective, for instance), then it’s far easier to do more of it, because you know exactly what it is: you’re going to do more of something you already have done before. Compare this to doing something you never did or for which you’re not so good at!

As far as efficiency is concerned, I’d rather think a bit more beforehand to understand the strengths at play, and then act more easily afterwards, rather than the opposite (jumping straight on a problem but being dragged in acting out a solution to it).

Of course, there’s the middle path where you identify a problem, and then work out to find times when the problem was not present, what the corresponding strengths might be that made the situation better, and then do more of them. A bit simpler than strict problem solving, though still longer than pure strength-based work.

So what? Well, my conclusion is to just don’t damn look for problems in the first place. Just identify what you want more of because you just seem to like it, identify how come you’re good at it, and just-do-more-of-it!!!


#AppreciativeInquiry Summit for 750 — Profound Conversations

Neil facilitated an AI Summit for 750. His short report of it is really exciting! I wish I could organize one like that here.

I love this:

We had one ground rule: “Everyone is a fully functioning adult making informed choices about how to participate.”

Please continue!


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