B3. Knowledge and Improvement

knowledge-index-pictureUnderstanding how we learn, develop, and improve…

…and therefore, achieving true learning and improvement:

  • ‘By’ the people, not ‘on’ the people;
  • Experimentation, not copying from others;
  • Problem solving, not implementing;
  • Normative, not attempts at rational or power/coercive change.


Post Title: Summary ‘teaser’: Month Published:
What you see depends upon your perspective! Looking for supposed ‘best practise’ elsewhere and then imposing it on the process performers robs the organisation of the ability to learn and develop. Nov 2014
L.A.M.E Implementing a methodology (whether Lean, Six Sigma, Agile…or anything else) will not be sufficient – it can only deliver limited improvements which will likely be unsustainable. The real need is to study, understand and change the management system. Dec 2014
IT and improvement Technology is not a silver bullet. Merely implementing the next shiny new thing will lead to higher costs and more complexity. Information technology, whilst potentially useful, is not the place to start. Dec 2014
Shonky experiments That’s not an experiment! The way to learn is to constantly experiment towards a clear purpose. However, it’s not an experiment if your mind is already made up and you are merely looking to justify yourself. Dec 2014
Too busy to improve?! ‘Hakan Forss’ (Lego) blog link: If you think that you are too busy to improve then you most definitely have a problem! Dec 2014
The difference between… Alfie Kohn quote: A clear explanation of the important difference between training and education. This blog is about education! Dec 2014
Benchmarking – worse than cheating Aim for perfection for your customers, not what your competitors are doing. Benchmarking is limiting and misleading. Feb 2015
Reorganised Petronius Arbiter quote: You can’t reorganise your way to continuous improvement. Feb 2015
Getting over ‘the God complex’ Tim Harford TED talk: The only way to know what improves a complex system is through experimentation. Mar 2015
Scrap the ‘100 day plan’ Throw that plan in the bin. Instead, go the gemba, study the system and get knowledge….and then help the people to change it themselves. May 2015
Worse than useless Hotel feedback example: Don’t link employee contingent rewards (e.g. money) to customer feedback. You will collect distorted data, likely annoy your customers and and miss out on hearing what you really needed to know. Jun 2015
How to have a successful journey Beware the word ‘Implement’: Continually solve problems towards your purpose rather than implement grand and detailed plans. Jun 2015
Enough rope to hang ourselves Reducing failure demand and waste: Don’t use supposedly helpful tools and techniques unless and until you understand the underlying thinking. Aug 2015
What do germs have to do with modern management? Myron Tribus story: True change can only occur through normative (experiential) learning. Aug 2015
Talk-back radio “I don’t know much about it but…”: Opinions should not be mistaken for facts. Beware of voting. Aug 2015
Crossing the Divide So you want to improve: Do you want to know where to start, and how? …and, as important, do you want to understand what doesn’t work? Feb 2016
“My Lord, I bring news!” The Queen of Spain’s Beard: delivering a message using normative change Feb 2016
Unknown…and unknowable The ‘ROI’ of attending ’training’:…but is it training and what is its value? Mar 2016
“What I think is…” Peter Checkland’s ‘Problematic situations’: Do you find yourself in conversations every day, stating your opinions? So, where do these opinions comes from? And are they what you would think if you knew some more? Jul 2016
Depths of ‘Transformation’ Are you tasked with, or attempting, or perhaps involved in ‘Transformation’? (or maybe you are feeling its effects). If so, at what level? Or, put another way, how deep are you going?…and how might that work out for you? Sep 2016
Polishing a Turd The Planning Fallacy: an explanation of an irrationality that we all suffer from, and an introduction to ‘validated learning’. May 2017
Roar! Sir Ian McGeechan: “I’ve never voted…I’ve always talked it through” May 2017
Double Trouble Argyris & Schon: An explanation of single-loop vs. double-loop learning…and the bit that’s usually missing. Aug 2017
Lights, camera…and ACTION! Kurt Lewin: The important difference between natural and social science, and the need for action learning. Apr 2018
“What did you just call me?!” ‘Ignorant’: Using the (usually negative) word in a useful way. Apr 2018
Smoke and mirrors So you want some help to change your organisation – what can I do to help?…and what won’t work! Jun 2019
Emotions in fancy dress Commentary on a most excellent article by Joe Bennett on the subject of opinions Jun 2019
Epistemology – on knowledge and knowing

What do I think I know?

…and what do you think you know about what I think I know?

Jul 2019