Again and again I met and heard from people who continue to act and lead from the belief that all of their problems have solutions that can be managed, controlled, and predicted.
It's hard, helping people admit that not everything we want to solve is readily solvable. Hard to accept the need to be comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity.
Support Collective Engagement To Adjust and Tweak
The Lean improvement methodology comes from the manufacturing world, and in particular, the Toyota Production System. Lean seeks to root out every bit of "waste" and "non value-added" activity in making stuff like Corollas and Camrys.
People working in the system map out its current state (and never mind that the standard mapping tool, Vizio, is a rather rigid and linear map tool), and "envision its future state."
I asked the author two questions. I cautioned him that these were questions I have been asking Lean practitioners for five years, and that I had yet to get an answer to either -
- What is your method for engaging the dozens of client employees that you bring to the table day after day to do value stream analysis and future state visions, in collaborative, generative dialogue? This author's reply: "well, we, uhm, build trust with them.." Well....no, that isn't a dialogic method to facilitate collaboration and the emergence of new understanding or ideas.
- How do you define "non value-added activity" and who defines it? I told him the story of one government grant-making agency, whose grant-writers cared only about the citizens receiving the much-needed health services being funded. Efficiency? Extra time or cost? Not so important. As I pointed out, "one person's waste, was literally another person's heartfelt value." Now what?
See Beyond the Surface to Successfully Reach Your Goals
Question: how do you know that the current processes you have, can actually result in achieving the goals you have set, especially in processes aimed at managing complex systems and issues?
A bit of nervous laughter from the panelists. "Gee, that's a good question..."
We never even got to the point that in such "management by objectives" environments, again as Deming and Joseph M. Juran rightly noted, there is a tendency to only manage to the goal, and to fudge the numbers to meet it.
Break free of Newtonian worldviews
Each year the manager had to sign a performance contract at the beginning of the budget year. It said what people, money, and resources he was getting. It said what his goals were (improving clean water access in rural India villages by drilling wells).
At the end of the year he had to write an "attribution report" explaining how he used his resources to achieve his goals. He, and the other 50 managers in the room called these "retribution reports."
In many cases, nothing a manager could do with the processes they had, could either reach the goals, or explain the (typically complex) causal relationships between what their agency had done, and the outcomes that had occurred.
We've been taught to fear that which is natural,
and in fact, vital.
Author, Bruce Waltuck, M.A., Complexity, Chaos, and Creativity
President & Owner, Freethinc. . . For A Change-Services on Organizational Change, Employee and Labor Relations, Collaborative Dialogue, and Story-gathering for Insights and Action. Bruce currently serves as a Director, The Institute for Open Economic Networks (I-Open).
Box 15, Windsor, NJ 08561
Now tweeting @Freethinc4aChng
(C) 2014 Bruce Waltuck, All Rights Reserved. Non-commercial use granted to Betsey Merkel and I-Open, to be distributed under a Creative Commons license with attribution, for non-commercial use
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