A5. System Conditions & A6. Management Thinking

syst-cond-mgmt-th-index-pictureSo you know your purpose, you understand demand, you have measures of your capability and know how your work currently flows…let’s make some improvements.

Not so fast! “Treating improvement as merely process improvements is folly. If the system conditions that caused the waste are not removed, any improvements will be marginal and unsustainable…To remove waste, you need to understand its causes.” (John Seddon) 

There are reasons as to why the system is as it is…and, if you don’t understand these, then any intended changes are likely to fail. Such reasons include organisational structures, business policies, procedures, methods of measurement, reliance on technology systems….

Further, once you understand these system conditions, you must go one step further and ask ‘why is it like this?’ Now, you are at the true root cause – management thinking. The whole system exists as it does because of the way managers (currently) think about the design and management of ‘work’.


Post Title: Summary ‘teaser’: Month Published:
Bad digger driver or bad process? ‘Cutting through a gas pipe’ media article: When we judge people, we are mainly judging the effect of the system on them and what they could achieve. Nov 2014
Anointing heroes x + y(x) = 8: It is not possible to isolate the performance of a person from what the system allowed (or constrained) them to accomplish. Dec 2014
Oh no, not that old theory! McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y: If management apply certain assumptions about people then they can expect people to behave in these ways…cause and effect. Feb 2015
Obsessed! ‘Culture’ is a result (read-only), not a cause. The main cause of the culture of an organisation is the management system in place. ‘Transformation’ is only possible by changing the causes. Feb 2015
…so you got an award! There are two types of organisations: Which is yours at awards time? This comes down to the management environment.  Mar 2015
…but why? From ‘targets’ to ‘target conditions’: Setting tough target dates up-front and attempting to enforce them is ‘Management by Fear’. Mar 2015
An Exercise in Futility Performance Management: The performance appraisal system is deeply flawed. Mar 2015
The 8th, and greatest, waste The waste of untapped human potential: It is the role of management to provide an environment in which all of our potentials can flourish and become best utilised…it is not appropriate to make this the burden of each individual. Jun 2015
The Emperors Clothes The (annual) game of Performance Management: Everybody knows the madness…but we don’t say much about this. “Carry on – nothing to see here!” Jun 2015
Outstanding! ‘Slackers’ and ‘Talent’: The role of management is to change the system, rather than badger individuals to do better. Jul 2015
A breakthrough! …but is it all that it seems? Accenture article: Many a large organisation is seeing the huge waste within the performance review process …but are they also understanding its fundamental flaw? Aug 2015
It’s NOT about the nail! Youtube ‘nail in the head’ skit: substituting the ‘command and control’ management system for that nail. Aug 2015
Rolling, rolling, rolling… ‘Roll out’ vs. ‘roll in’: There’s a fundamental, and massively important, difference between attempting to ‘roll out’ change and enabling change to roll in through the motivations of the people performing the work. ‘Roll out’ applies for command-and-control. ‘Roll in’ fits with systems thinking. Sep 2015
School boy debating society So I’m in a room with a few executives: and what had intended to be an open minded discussion turns into a hierarchical debate. How did that happen?! Oct 2015
“I hear what you say…but I don’t want to change my world.” Kahneman’s ‘investment advice’ example: ‘performance’ is partly down to skill but mostly down to luck….but knowing this does not mean that much will necessarily change. We need to know the causes of why we think and act as we do if we are to be successful in changing for the better. Nov 2015
The “did you just do that?!” analogy The dinner party: Your neighbours seem so nice…until they do the unexpected…but what are you going to say about it?!  Apr 2016
Laugh…or scream!!! McKinsey Article: on Performance Management and what I think about it.  May 2016
Profit sharing vs. Incentives Poles apart: Everyone should share in the success of an organisation…but not through extrinsic motivators. May 2016
Back to that profit-sharing nirvana… Handelsbanken and The Oktogonen Foundation: A Case Study on profit sharing May 2016
“Dad…what do you do at work?” Trying to explain: Erm, I’m a Business Consultant. May 2016
The Great Budget God in the sky! The Fixed Performance Contract and the budgeting games that people play. May 2016
A journey through five words Are you (labelled as) a ‘cynic’? Nov 2016
Why I dislike… …(so called) maturity models Dec 2016
Books – Part 1: The typical book store Have you ever thought about the types of management books ‘out there’? Jan 2017
Books – Part 2: “There’s a book coming out…” A ‘compare and contrast’ of management books…of the author, and their intent. Jan 2017
‘Chain’ beats’ ‘Triangle’ What does the (much used) word ‘Quality’ actually mean?

…and therefore what’s the relationship between ‘Quality’ and ‘Cost’?     Really?

Feb 2017
Memo to ‘Top Management’ – Subject: Engine Technology Thomas Johnson: An explanation of two different management systems – using old and new thinking. Jun 2017
The Seeker The gulf between conventional and purpose-seeking organisations. Jul 2017