School boy debating society

donald-trump…so I was in a room with a few Executives who had ‘spared me some of their time’ to allow a discussion about how I could help them move their organisation towards its stated purpose.

I said something and almost immediately one of the Executives leapt back with a seemingly clever (or was that merely ‘conventional’) and forceful counter. He then looked at me in such a way as to imply that:

  • what I had said was clearly very stupid; and
  • my lack of immediate and razor-sharp response to his challenge proved that he was right.

The implication was that I didn’t know ‘as much’ as him (as in “Silly boy, you are wasting my time…best go away until you can justify being before me”). There was no consideration that I (might) know different things to him.

I took a moment, I pondered what he had said, I thought about what I had said and I provided a reasoned response.

…and he leapt back with another counter, getting more animated and looking around the room at his fellow executives for emotional support. They (quite naturally) returned some smirks to him, translated as clear and obvious agreement with what he was saying.

I quickly realised that this had (unexpectedly) escalated, that my original comment had not fitted into his current world view and that there was no way that I would alter his thinking by attempting a short verbal rational explanation…so I politely said words to this effect and attempted to move on.

..and so he and the Executives sat back with smiles on their faces, looking smug that they had ‘won the argument’ – and that they were clever, and clearly more so than this upstart before them.

Hang on a minute! ‘Won the argument’? Who said there was an argument? It certainly wasn’t supposed to be (Cue Monty Python ‘argument’ sketch).

I suspect that such meetings with ‘command and control’ executives are all too common.

I compare them back to what I imagine to be the format of public school boy debating societies:

  • you have a position which must be pushed, and defended, at all costs;
  • you’ve got a fixed time to put your point across;
  • there will be a vote at the end to determine a result;
  • there is glory to be seen as the winner;
  • there is mirth to be shown to the loser, who will be considered ‘weak’; and
  • once the debate is over, it is ‘case closed’.

Note: None of the above was actually a surprise to me. I know about different worldviews, about rational vs. normative change and about the boomerang effect*.

(* the unintended consequences of an attempt to persuade resulting in the adoption of an opposing position instead).

The reasons for writing this post are merely to share:

  • the similarity between exchanges with ‘command and control’ executives and school boy debating; and
  • how easy it is for such a well meaning ‘rational’ conversation to descend into a head-to-head ‘win or lose’ argument.

…oh yes, and as some form of therapy for me 🙂

 

To all those executives out there:

If you are an executive and people put forward ideas that differ to your own, I’d humbly suggest you see this as a (free, yet valuable) opportunity to self-develop and improve (rather than protect) your world view.

As a point of fact: If the person in front of you believes differently to you then there must be reasons for this…and it could be very useful for you to consider and understand why…and thus mature and/or expand (rather than defend) your thinking.

Social workers, Sociopaths and Politicians

silence of lambsI have written a few posts to date about money and one thing that constantly comes up in the mainstream media is pay. I break these ‘news’ stories into three categories:

  • Pay for social workers;
  • Pay for sociopaths; and
  • Pay for politicians

Warning: This post is a bit political…sorry about that. Normal service will resume once I’ve got this one out of my system.

Social workers:

I am using the ‘social worker’ label in a very broad way and deliberately so. I am referring to those workers who provide incredible value to our society yet do not get paid mega bucks for doing so.

You know who they (and perhaps ‘you’) are – just look for the perennial ‘offenders’ in the eyes of the establishment* for complaining about their meagre pay. Yes, these are the health workers, teachers, emergency services (police, fire and ambulance) and so on.

(* as in “their Unions are being unreasonable again and are threatening to strike!”)

Here’s the thing I find interesting about these social workers – we all recognise that:

  • we want ‘the best’ people in these roles: we have a vested interest since they nurture, develop and care for us!
  • (virtually*) all of them ‘bust a gut’ in their roles, doing far more than most of us should expect of them (or might do ourselves); and yet
  • for the value they provide to our society, the effort they put in and sacrifices they make, they aren’t paid well.

* sure, you’ll find the odd incompetent or bad egg but this is surely so in every walk of life. This can be an issue of selection but, more likely, of what ‘the system’ has done to them/ turned them into.

Classical economic doctrine would hold that, if you want the best, you have to pay for it. Further, if you don’t, then they will swap to complimentary careers that pay better.

But here’s the interesting thing: the vast majority of these social workers stay and soldier on in spite of the pay and conditions (i.e. the ideological policies handed down to them by politicians who have little real knowledge about what they are commanding).

This got me thinking: There is clearly an error in this supply/demand economic model. If I’m a social worker (using my wider definition), poorly paid, working long hours, and could get, say, an admin. job on similar money and far less stress…why do I stay and put up with this sh1t?!

Here’s my answer: Because they are paid in more than money – they are doing something that meets with their purpose (i.e. gives them great personal satisfaction). This, to them, is worth more than the monetary alternatives on offer.

And here’s the catch-22:

  • We want people like this to be doing social worker jobs! We don’t want people doing it ‘for the money’, we want people to be doing it because of the good that they do;
  • However, it would be very easy for society at large to take advantage of such people (in fact we do!), paying them poorly knowing that they can’t easily leave a job that they love.

I think society has to be thankful for, be respectful of, and do all it can to protect and support such people. This means:

  • providing them with a decent standard of living so that they can do as much good as possible, and not have to worry about the roof over their heads, the food in their bellies, the clothes on their backs and the bringing up of their families; and
  • listening to them, to use their undoubted passion and expertise to make our world a better place.

Sociopaths:

So, clearly, I put this group forward as a sort of opposite to the social worker. As usual, I want to get my terms right so here’s a definition:

“Sociopath: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behaviour is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.“ (Dictionary.com)

I then turn my attention to executives and their pay. Here’s an illuminating graph:

PayGap

Bizarrely, rather than being ashamed of this graph, many an executive uses it as justification to lobby for more pay from their boards!

“Look at what he/she gets in comparison to me…it’s not fair – I need a pay rise!”

This is merely a never ending race-to-the-top argument.

Indeed, I know of one (Antipodean based) executive using it to argue that their high pay isn’t an issue because “look at the Americans!”. Yes, you poor thing – it’s all soooo unfair.

We are fed the line that they (the executives) are brilliant, that only they could do the job and as a result, their pay is totally rational and justifiable.

Even more weirdly, if a good candidate for leading an organisation told its board that they would do the job for far less pay than what the market was demanding, the board would likely think that they surely can’t be up to it!

Here’s a test for any board:

Test: Advertise the top jobs to people in the company for, say, 10x workers pay, see who applies and find the best one.

Likely outcome: The person selected may very well be someone with great passion, leadership and humility…where money wasn’t the driver…you know, where they truly believed in the organisation’s purpose and are willing to bust a gut to strive towards it.

Executives have conned us into believing that, unless they are being paid mega-bucks, then they clearly aren’t competent to hold the job…what a topsy-turvy way of thinking.

Worse still – the majority of executives preside over command-and-control management regimes as if this were a good thing. It is, for them…but not for their employees, customers and (as a result) their shareholders*.

(* If you want to know why this is so then this is the subject of virtually all the other posts on this blog.)

Some daring thoughts:

  • if a job is so big that it really is so hard and complex that it is worth millions of dollars in pay…then the job is too big and needs breaking down into many roles.
  • just because a person happens to be brilliant at something doesn’t mean that we need to shower them with riches.
    • Who believes that the best teacher in this country (who shapes hundreds of lives daily over a dependably long and loyal career) should be paid many millions per year? Anyone?
  • the person who says that they need to be paid millions or else they won’t do it is likely not the best fit for an organisation – they aren’t really in it for the organisation’s true purpose, they are in it for themselves.
    • It’s no surprise that founders live and breathe their company – it is most likely about their passion rather than the money.

Cor, that’s all a bit controversial….I’ll be accused of being a socialist next….and then it’s not too far down the spiral to be branded a communist…I’ll get my coat!

Here’s a theory: If you are paid, say, 50+ times the amount of your workers and you think this is justified then you are a sociopath.

(Corollary: If you get paid this much and don’t think it’s justified then you are likely unhappy in yourself, with feelings of guilt, which isn’t very healthy for you)

Why do I put this theory forward?

  • you think that you are better than everyone else (with your sense of extreme entitlement); and/or
  • you have an unhealthy relationship with money (and are excellent at rationalising why you need it).

And, just to head you off from the ‘communist’ label you may be lovingly making for me right now, here’s where I turn sideways, go all Zen and pull out one of my favourite quotes:

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple.

And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.” (Alan Watts)

Or, put into this context: sure we need enough to cover our basic needs but, after that, money cannot buy happiness. I’m pretty sure there’s been a song or two written about that?

Politicians:

And finally, I’ve saved the best till last!

This post wasn’t really about sociopaths, and it doesn’t matter whether you agree with my logic above or not (my views, whilst reflecting what I currently think, are just a red herring)…but it was necessary to set executives up for comparison purposes because this is what is done for and by politicians.

Back in February of this year, we had the all too common comedy of MP’s being awarded a hefty pay rise by an ‘independent’ body and then the leaders of political parties desperately trying to distance themselves from said pay rise.

Setting the scene: MPs in democracies around the world realised a while back that they were on a sticky wicket when it comes to their pay…so they create an ‘independent pay authority’ to take pay rises out of their hands…and then they can say “erm, I’m not asking for it but they think I deserve it – what can I do?”

Then some MPs aim to look pious by being seen to be ‘turning down’ a portion of their pay rise.

The MPs independent pay authority becomes the scape goat but, with some justification, argues in reply that ”it’s fulfilling its obligations, set by Parliament, that include relativity with comparable positions, recruiting and retaining competent individuals and any prevailing adverse economic conditions.”

The underlying scam: The ‘independent’ part of the pay authority sounds good in practise but what are its terms of reference? What is the job that it has been given to do? It has been set up on the same basis as boards considering executive pay.

  • To use money to ‘get the best’ (as in “if we don’t pay them well, they won’t come”); and
  • To compare, which includes against the corporate world (as in “look what a private sector CEO gets – MPs are at least as important as them!”);

The comedy:

“I think there are two sorts of MP: those who see being an MP as a public service and know what they are there to stand up for, and those who see it as a conveyor belt to a private-sector job after two terms and a spell in government. There seem to be many more of the latter these days” (Quote from a backbench British MP, Source: Owen Jones’ book ‘The Establishment’)

Sure, have pay set independently, but with what objectives? …which points directly to THE question to be answered:

Who do we want our Politicians to be compared with? Social workers or sociopaths?

…and whatever your answer is, will be what you will get.

Good luck to all of us with that!

 

  1. The best teacher: If (as unlikely as it seems) you are a politician reading this, I’m only theorising – PLEASE don’t think you should now rush off and hire some consultants to supposedly come up with a measure for this!!!
  2. Addendum: As I look ‘in’ at the current wonder that is the American electoral process, I see the following candidates for President: a gaggle of smooth politicians, 1 social worker and 1 sociopath. It sure is an interesting one – Go America, see what you can do…but (for the sake of the rest of the world) please consider what I write above. No pressure! Thanks in advance 🙂

What do germs have to do with modern management?

5248_1651_2006-021If a hugely important message is so different to how people currently believe and behave, how do we best help people ‘get it’ and, even better, passionately ‘jump ship’?

I’d like to use an excellent ‘germ theory’ analogy, written about by Myron Tribus (see credit at bottom of this post).

Imagine it is the year 1869

Louis Pasteur has recently demonstrated that fermentation is caused by organisms which are carried in the air. Joseph Lister has applied Pasteur’s work and experimented with the first antiseptic and found that it worked to prevent infection after surgery.

Between them (and others), they have opened up a whole new theory – the germ theory of disease.

However, their contemporaries, the doctors administering to their patients have no understanding of this knowledge. Worse, current practises contaminate patients with virtually every action taken. Surgeons routinely operate with unwashed instruments and unwashed hands and then ‘sew death into the wound’ with unsterilised needles and unsterilised thread. Some people recover, some stay the same, but many die. In each case, some rationale (from what is currently believed) can be used to explain the outcome.

Today we cringe at the actions of these doctors…but at that time the medical world believed in a totally different (Miasma) theory and, as such, the practising doctors were constrained by this thinking. These professionals knew no better – they were prisoners to the state of knowledge of their profession, to the current way of thinking and were under pressure to conform, to follow ‘best practise’. They could not apply what they did not know or believe.

So, going back to the year 1869…the American civil war has recently ended. Imagine you are a young researcher in an American medical school and you have learned about these incredibly important new European developments in germ theory. The spread of such knowledge is rather slower than it is today (there’s no internet, no email).

You want to spread the new germ theory knowledge and the importance of sterilisation! You’ve been invited to speak in front of a group of distinguished doctors. They have achieved their fame from heroic work as surgeons in the field during the war (they are very good at sawing limbs off!)…but your underlying message to them is that they have been killing their patients.

So your task is to persuade them to forget what they have been taught, to abandon the wisdom they thought they had gained through many years of experience and to rebuild their understanding around a new theory…but think about this:

  • they have a very nice life based on what they have been doing (respect and prestige in their community, a nice house, some fine horses and a few servants);
  • you are effectively telling them that they are (currently) a menace…that they are dangerous!
  • …what about their reputation if this ‘gets out’?

How do you go about winning them over? Do you think they will be glad to hear you?

Let’s apply this analogy to management

Here’s the preface to W. Edwards Deming’s important book ‘The New Economics’:

“This book is for people who are living under the tyranny of the prevailing [command and control] style of management…Most people imagine that the present style of management has always existed, and is a fixture. Actually it is a modern invention – a prison created by the way people interact.”

Deming’s book (and his famous lectures) goes on to explain that what is considered as ‘best practise’ in management is in fact not…and that, instead, it is doing much harm and there is a better way….which sounds rather familiar to trying to educate doctors about germs in the late 1800s.

Now there are successful companies (think Japan for starters, and many forward thinking companies) and hugely respected educators (Ackoff, Scholtes, Womack & Jones, Seddon,….) around the world that have taken on and advanced Deming’s work. Deming is for management what Pasteur and Lister were for medicine.

But Deming’s message is some mouthful for the successful ‘command and control’ Executive to take!

In the same way that the doctors wouldn’t have liked to hear the “you are killing your patients” message, neither would an executive who has ‘got to the top’ using their knowledge and understanding of the traditional ‘command and control’ management system.

So what reactions should we expect from the 1869 doctors and today’s ‘command and control’ executives to a new way of thinking? Well, that depends on how the message is delivered!

One way will result in denial, the other curiosity (by some) to learn more.

Rational vs. Normative change

So what actually happened? Well, the doctors fought tooth and nail against the idea of having a sterile environment. “What, stop to wash my hands…don’t be silly. I have important things to do!”

But, consider this. Those doctors who were curious leapt ahead…those who wouldn’t change eventually became ridiculed, sidelined and even ruined. It took time…but the new theory eventually won out.

So back to delivering that message…here’s a comparison of two intervention methods:

  • Intervention Method 1: Rational change – This is the idea that you can use logical arguments to rationalise the proposed change (you explain, they listen)…but, if you do this, they will always map what you are saying onto their current world view (which is the very thing you are trying to change!) and then they will defend their current thinking since they know no better – this results in denial. You won’t get any traction here!

  • Intervention Method 2: Normative change – This is where you get them curious to look for themselves, to study their system (stand back, observe, collect information, consider) and thereby open their eyes to that which they could not see. Then, and only then, will they be ready to change. This change in thinking (unlearning and relearning) is achieved through experiential learning – people don’t deny what they see.

So, the task is to get ‘command and control’ leaders to become curious and then help them study their system, to open their eyes to what is actually happening….and then work with them to experiment towards a new way of management.

There are a couple of obvious ways to begin this study:

  • Demand: Take them to where the demand comes in (a branch, a contact centre, the mail) and get them to listen to/ observe demand. Get them to classify this as value or failure demand… get them thinking about what they ‘see’;

  • Flow: Get them to follow some units of value demand all the way through the current system, from when the demand first arose (from the customer’s point of view) all the way to when the customer achieved a satisfactory closure (to them) to their actual needs. Get them to identify the value work, seeing everything else as waste…get them thinking about what they ‘see’.

…now they should be curious to think about the why, why, why.

“Okay Steve, we get the ‘germ theory’ example….but what’s your supposedly missing management theory?”

Well, actually, it’s not just one missing theory – there are four!! I’ve put an introductory table at the bottom of this post if you are curious 🙂

Deming aptly referred to the understanding of these four theories, and their inter-relationships, as ‘profound knowledge’. Obviously, my simple (rational) writing about these can’t change anything much…but it might help you when studying your system.

So who’s this post actually written for?

If you are reading this, are part of the system and already ‘see’ some or all of the new way, then it is to explain to you that rational change is unlikely to work…so try to go down the normative change track with your leaders.

If you are a leader who is responsible for the system, then this post is merely to make you curious. I cannot rationally convince you that there is a far better way than your existing ‘command and control’ management system but I can help you study and learn for yourself.

…and finally, on a positive note…

Not everything that the doctors, or ‘command and control’ managers did was wrong. They did what they could with what they knew and they were sincere in their efforts to do the right things.

Four missing theories from command-and-control management:

The theory of:

Meaning…: Which will show the madness of:
A system When we break up the system into competitive components, we destroy value of unknown magnitude.

What matters most is how the components fit, not how they act taken separately.

An unclear purpose, vertical hierarchical silo’d thinking, continual reorganisations, cascaded personal objectives, and the rating & ranking of peoples’ performance;

Failure demand and waste

Variation There is natural variation in everything: we need to understand the difference between a signal and noise.

Targets are ‘outside’ the system and cause dysfunctional behaviour.

Binary comparisons, targets, traffic lights and tampering.
Human Psychology Understanding people and why they behave as they do (particularly in respect of motivation, relationships and trust). The use of extrinsic motivators, such as competitive awards and incentives (and a misunderstanding of money);

Management by fear and compliance; Treating people as the same, an obsession with ’empowerment’ and the missed opportunity of developing people

Knowledge True learning and development occurs through experimentation (e.g. PDSA) – from a theory that is properly tested and then reflected upon…leading to true and sustainable improvement.

Benchmarking and implementing solutions rather than experimentation; saying something is ‘an experiment’ when it’s not; a focus on results rather than their causes; Speeches and workshops rather than Gemba walking.

After thought: ‘Germ theory’ is but one example of a scientific theory that could have been used as the analogy in this post. In generic terms, ‘old knowledge’ hangs around for a while in spite of our efforts…but it does eventually die out, allowing us to move forward.

Credits:

  • The analogy comes from Myron Tribus: ‘The Germ theory of management’ (1992), SPC Press
  • The intervention thinking comes from an enlightening email exchange with John Seddon

Image: I had some fun looking for an appropriate image to go with this post. I came across some gruesome pictures of 19th century (unsterilised) amputations but, given that some of you might not appreciate seeing this, I limited myself to just showing you a 19th century surgeon’s instrument kit…and those of you that want to can let your imagination run riot 🙂

The 8th, and greatest, waste

performance-potentialI expect many of you sometimes sit back from your desk, sigh, and think something along the lines of:

“Blimey (polite version 🙂 ), I’ve got so much more to offer this organisation…if only they knew!…if only they properly utilised my particular talents and motivations”.

Each of our talents and motivations will likely be very different to one another but they are incredibly valuable.

So, what might happen if you took this ‘my value is so wasted’ thought further, along the lines of:

“Hey, why don’t I actually say this the next time that I meet with my Manager!” (or is that Leader? We seem to be confused by these two words nowadays)

What do you think his/ her response would be?

This brings me to something which seems to be all pervasive within a hierarchical ‘command and control’ organisation…I expect that you would hear the following response:

“but you are responsible for your own development!”

I’ve heard this at a few organisations throughout my ‘career’ and it has always made me deeply uncomfortable…not because I don’t want to further myself (I absolutely do¸ always have and always will….but not necessarily in the ‘go up the greasy money-and-power pole’ way that might be implied).

It makes me deeply uncomfortable because this “it’s your responsibility” response:

  • is so lazy and convenient! It sidesteps the need for management to think about why the person feels this way and what is preventing the organisation (and its customers) from benefiting from their potential;
  • misunderstands, or worse, ignores the huge role of the management system in what an individual can achieve;
  • demonstrates an abdication of responsibility* by the management above as to their role in understanding and developing their people and in enabling them to thrive;

(* as in “Your development is not actually my problem! I might ‘throw you a few bones’ but take control of your own destiny…I did and look at me!”);

  • really means “impress me (the manager)”…where this is more about them than you.

Essentially, you have to do things that they want, rather than things that are in fact of value…and you certainly aren’t being encouraged to think for yourself, be bold, courageous and different.

The “it’s your responsibility” response completely bypasses the actual role of management – “to change the system rather than badgering individuals to do better” (Deming)

Curiously, the higher you succeed in climbing an organisation, I suspect the greater the risk of hubris and the belief that you got there almost 100% because of you! And therefore the most likely you are to want to deny the effects of the system on what you (as compared to others) were enabled to achieve.

Indeed, if you operate in a command-and-control organisation and are good at playing the necessary game, you may very well ‘go far’…but is this ‘game playing’ actually good for the organisation and, ultimately, towards its purpose? I think not.

The frustrating thing is that the command-and-control management system works very well for those at or near the top and any rational analysis of the waste caused by their management system is likely to be met with denial.

As a result, the only way that change is likely to occur is through those leaders studying the system, obtaining meaningful knowledge as to how it operates and working it out for themselves.

This doesn’t mean that it is hopeless for the rest of us: the more we help those same leaders look at the system and how it actually works then the more likely they are to ‘see’.

Note: The title of this post refers to Taiichi Ohno’s original ‘7 wastes’ and the fact that an 8th overarching waste has been added – that of the waste of untapped human potential.

This 8th waste will be huge within a command-and-control paradigm. 

A state of flow

rock_climb_will_mono-2I often talk about flow in the sense of how value flows through a value stream from a customer’s demand trigger through to its satisfaction.

However, this post is all about a different use of the word ‘flow’.

Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – I’m not going to pronounce that! – is world famous for his studies and writings on happiness and creativity. His seminal book ‘Flow: The psychology of optimal experience’ (1990) outlines his theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow.

If you are in a state of ‘flow’ then this means that you are completely absorbed by an activity and a situation…and you are so involved that nothing else matters. It’s what is often described as being ‘in the zone’.

It is the optimal state of intrinsic motivation and is something that we all experience at times, even to the point that you forget about time, food, self ego and so on. And, given this, you can see that it is an incredibly fulfilling and enjoyable state to be in.

It has been noted that this flow state is a functional mode of ‘being’ that eastern meditation masters have been pointing to for millennia.

An example:

“The mystique of rock climbing is climbing; you get to the top of a rock glad it’s over but really wish it would go on forever. The justification of climbing is climbing, like the justification of poetry is writing; you don’t conquer anything except things in yourself…. The act of writing justifies poetry. Climbing is the same: recognizing that you are in flow. The purpose of the flow is to keep on flowing, not looking for a peak or utopia but staying in the flow. It is not a moving up but a continuous flowing; you move up to keep the flow going. There is no possible reason for climbing except the climbing itself; it is a self-communication.” (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow)

It just so happens that, having regularly climbed some years ago, I really ‘get’ his example…and even if you are afraid of heights but have been on a climbing wall once in your life I bet you weren’t thinking about much else whilst holding on!

Your flow examples will be different to mine – other activities often cited as examples are musicians lost in their music and painters becoming one with the process of painting i.e. they experience ‘the suspension of time’. Have a think about when you are totally in the zone and not thinking about the rest of the world.

So what?!

Now, I know I can’t spend all my days [climbing/….] (please substitute your personal flow activities in here) and that I need to earn money to live…but wouldn’t it be brilliant if I could regularly attain a state of flow in my work?!

Csikszentmihalyi suggests that flow occurs when there is neither anxiety nor boredom.

Anxiety occurs when the challenge of the moment exceeds our capabilities. Boredom occurs when we are capable of doing considerably more than the challenge presented to us.

Tying this in to Frederick Hertzberg’s theory of motivation: Anxiety and boredom are demotivating, flow is motivating.

A command-and-control management system is likely to:

  • dictate methods/ solutions/ activities to the workers;
  • set grand ‘implementation’ plans that seem massive and unachievable “given what we know about our reality!”;
  • focus on results, rather than constant iterative improvement;
  • set targets that may be impossible or out of our control (leading to anxiety) or
  • may be easily achieved (boredom)
    • “….though, if I get a bonus for achieving the easy target, I am unlikely to tell someone I am bored for fear of being given the impossible instead.”
  • use end-game language (such as ‘best practice’, ‘target operating model’, ‘solution’, ‘project completion’…) rather than focusing on the journey;
  • likely lock-in ‘the plan’ and focus much effort on forensic examination (and blame) of variance rather constant learning and adjustment.

…but, ultimately, provides an environment that constrains people’s ability to achieve flow in their work.

We can see that the Systems thinking ‘scientific method’ of:

  • constant/ never-ending:
  • experimentation;
  • by the workers/ management together;
  • to attain progressively more challenging target conditions;
  • which are meaningful to the customer

is most likely to provide workers and management with a state of enjoyable psychological flow where their skills, and the challenges they take on will constantly grow.

I love being in a state of flow…and I expect you do too.