Improving People and Processes: Lean-Agile, Systems Thinking, and the System of Profound Knowledge
by Masa K. Maeda, Senior Consultant, Cutter Consortium
Click here for the full executive summary
Click here for the full executive reportOrganizations deal with pressure on a daily basis. Executive and managerial pressure frequently comes in the form of on-time delivery, cost cuts, and scope coverage; customer pressure usually comes in the form of feature requests and better quality; employee pressure continually asks for more time to finish tasks, fewer work hours, and better guidance.
Some organizations consider those kinds of pressures to be part of the daily corporate life and end up just bearing with them. Most of those organizations eventually collapse because lack of improvement puts them further behind over time. Other organizations take a proactive approach to better the organization. Some of those actions could be localized to focusing on ailing areas or could be of global scope and higher impact, such as replacing the organization's governance standard or model or adopting one if the organization didn't come with it already. Or it might mean replacing entire teams or migrating entire operations to other countries. In the accompanying Executive Report, I present, in detail, a better means to improve your organization through the improvement of people and processes, taking into account excellence, quality, and value through the application of lean-agile thinking, systems thinking, and the system of profound knowledge (SOPK).
The term "improving the whole" is not an if-you-only-have-a-hammer approach but rather the acknowledgement that we can acquire a way of thinking that broadens our perspective to look at our organization, processes, and people. It allows us to understand the kind of tools we need to continually better them.
Analytical thinking focuses on knowledge of the parts, properties, and behaviors of an object. Systems thinking focuses on the understanding of the properties and behaviors of an object, its parts, and the system under which it operates. This means that analytical thinking takes us levels inward with respect to the object, whereas systems thinking takes us levels outward with respect to the object because explanations always lie outside and not inside the system being studied. Systems thinking is very effective in solving even very difficult challenges and problems because the understanding acquired makes it easier to determine the root cause or causes of issues we encounter.
The SOPK is a management framework that has four parts: (1) willingness to change the management style, (2) transforming the individual, (3) fully applying its principles to all interaction with other people and decision making, and (4) transforming the organization.