Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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#slideshare: La puissance des organisations qui se basent sur leurs forces de @bernard_tollec et @pscheuerer‎

Excellente présentation, en français, sur les approches du changement fondées sur les forces ! Je vous la recommande chaudement !

La puissance des organisations qui se basent sur leurs forces.

@NancyDuarte #resonate #free #book on making presentations: what if you could *really* turn your audience into a hero?

I’m reading the beginning of this great book from Nancy Duarte she just released for free in beautiful HTML 5: Resonate. The book’s (or the beginning of it at least) is about the Monomyth as it’s been described by Joseph Campbell in “A Hero’s Journey”.

The purpose of a presentation should be to tell a story and make your audience like it is the hero of it, by making it visualize “what could be” in comparison to “what is“. The intent is to “sell” your proposal of how to achieve the “what could be” part of your message.

Yet, I’m thinking of all these strength-based approaches to change I’ve learned these recent years. For instance:

  • Appreciative Inquiry could be used to have people remember of personal situations where they lived the opposite of the problem (that is a strongly positive situation, that is, an experience of “what could be”). Combined with the social constructionist principle of AI, this could help people co-create their journey rights when you’re presenting (instead of waiting for the “call to action” to start it at the end of the presentation)
  • Solution Focus is explicitly based on the premise that the Future Perfect has already happened, at least partially,and to find again what behavior supported it at that time that could be amplified and done again.

So, instead of just encouraging your audience to just imagine them being a hero, what about having them remember they’ve already been the hero, and probably more than once?

Indeed, the story has already begun albeit in a masqueraded way. The real threshold would then be to have them commit to it and reveal it to the world.

Instead of holding the mirror where the audience can see itself in, what about giving them the mirror to play with? To discover sides of themselves they’ve never imagined they had? And then let them experiment with it right away?

This, I will ponder. I will continue reading the book, because it’s just excellent so far!


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!

My @leanpub book “The Colors of #Change” has started its publication!

Details are available on the page over there: or from here (a bit more complete).

Subtitle is “Respectful Change Management explained by Cybernetics”.

Check it out!

The Key to #Radical #Constructivism (#systemsthinking #stwg)

January 17th, 2013 Posted in Systems Thinking Tags: ,

I’ve just discovered this really cool web page titled “The Key to Radical Constructivism“. All you ever wanted to know about RC is linked from this page, as it seems.

Have a nice reading session!

Also, a more general page about RC is available here, which is the place where you can also read the marvelous but nonethless free magazine Constructivist Foundations (beware, some articles are hard to follow!)


Finding the perfect #systemsthinking method: is that what you really want?

There’s this discussion on LinkedIn about finding a Systems Thinking “Theory of Everything”.

I don’t know why, but it triggered something in myself that I would like to share here as well.

Let me again come back to constructivism: all these approaches and methods reflect the mental models of their conceptors. As such, they’re perfectly adapted to whoever created them along with the context in which they were primarily intended for.

Biomatrix seems the more systeMAtic of all those I’ve encountered, with this respect.

Now, I question the practicality of such highly sophisticated approaches. How do you teach them to people?

I don’t question their usefulness in bringing further understanding of a situation and consequently improving if with less unintended consequences than if no approach would have been used instead. But the more sophisticated an approach is, the more difficult it will me, IMO to “sell” it to some organization, either externally from a consultancy perspective or internally.

All these approaches try to do is help creating a model of a problem or situation in order to improve it. From basic principles (causal loops diagrams, DSRP…) to more sophisticated ones (Biomatrix, SoSM (System of Systems Methodology), etc.) they try to be as close as possible to reality, yet without fully embracing it (for it would be reality itself, not a map of it!) So, here again, we’re in constructivism: that of the creators of the aforementioned methods, and that of the people making up a system we would like to study/improve using one of those methods.

I have two personal convictions.

  1. The first one is that a system is its best map and that the (future) solution to its problems is already embedded i it, even if invisible for now.
  2. The second one is that you have to make a tradeoff somewhere between having a very good (ie matching the variety of the system) method to help a system see what solution would work for it, and a simple enough method that can be taught and explain to people making up the system. Too simple, it might not bring any insight, too complicated, it will be dismissed before even using it.

I personally turned to strength-based approaches to change such as Appreciative Inquiry (part of the “whole-system” change methods) or Solution Focus where the system itself is helped deliver what would work for itself.

If really needed, I can revert to some very simple models (that I use as a checklist) to help ensure some basic elements of an organization have been considered. For instance, McKinsey’s 7S might be helpful sometimes (and I don’t go further than what Wikipedia).

The fact is that a system is what it is, composed of most importantly (to me) its autonomous (sub)parts: humans. And humans construct their own reality, so instead of trying to box them into some different reality, I think we need to help them see their own boxes and help them connect them all so that they do something that matters and makes sense to themselves.

Don’t try to understand in too much details what they mean of what they want. Trust them to know better than you’d ever could. Lead them in the trouble waters of where they are to the clarity of where they would like to be. Let them identify the impediments on the way. Let them identify their strengths. Let them identify their own solutions (most of them they have *already* experimented to some extent – solution focus!). Then let them decide what path would work best for them and help them maintain the direction they chose. And then help them identify when they arrived at their destination so they can congratulate themselves.

And don’t even get me into change resistance, because that’s what a sophisticated method will probably trigger anyway!


Will speak at LKFR12: Hands-on experience on Strength-based Kanban: a Metaphor and Tool to boost your lean implementation coaching skills #lkfr12 #lean

I will be a speaker there along with David Shaked from Almond Insight.

You can read about our common presentation (and that of others) on the LKFR Speakers page. We intend to do a highly interactive sessionà la workshop where we hope attendees will get back home with a huge number of ideas that will work for them.

Our intervention will be a “Hands-on experience on Strength-based Kanban: a Metaphor and Tool to boost your lean implementation coaching skills.”

The agenda and list of speakers is incredible, make sure you come exchange with us!

Free Appreciative Inquiry PDF Leaflet (#ai #pdf #free)

I’ve just finished translating a leaflet I wrote in french a few years ago on Appreciative Inquiry.

Now, the document is available in english. Feel free to use and send to whoever you want, provided you keep the attribution.

It’s a short summary describing the principles and the method to get started in AI. For a more thorough list of papers, please go to the AI Commons or check the (excellent) AI Practitioner magazine.

TRI Appreciative Inquiry v2.3 EN

Enjoy !

(french: La version française est accessible dans ce post!)