Systems thinking and leadership

“A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.”  Stephen R. Covey

Often individuals in an organization are being held responsible for the failure of systems or processes and this leads to downward spiral in productivity, morale, and commitment.   At the core of organizational output are systems and processes.   At the core of systems and processes is the purpose, “what is the reason for ___________?”     Knowing the purpose of a system or process is the first step in understanding how to make the system work better.

When systems don’t work well and don’t deliver the results in many cases the flawed assumption is that the people are responsible.  In reality people are only trying to implement the system the best that they know how.   Leaders without substantial belief in systems will fault the people.   When people experience negative motivation, punishment will follow the lack of results, the desired results never appear.  

Leaders that believe people are reason for poor results are often thinking reflexively and that limits potential solutions to the problem and often leads to even poorer results.   

What can be done?

  1. Understand the purpose, understand what and why is to be done.
    1. What is the problem that needs to be solved?
    2. Why does a solution need to exist?
    3. Find out what the customer needs.
    4. Find out what output will create the right result.
    5. Find out what process will create the intended result.

If the process doesn’t produce the intended result then appropriate actions should be taken to correct the process.  

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