51 things I have learned doing Systems Thinking in Benefits so far.

  1. Listening to demand is exciting, enjoyable and worthwhile
  2. I thought I knew about Systems Thinking, turned out I had just memorised content from books.
  3. People like looking at control charts
  4. You don’t need to follow good design when putting data into a graph, just a good measure.
  5. Not everyone will get it.
  6. Ask questions, don’t tell answers.
  7. It’s the thinking not the tools.
  8. Don’t spend too long mapping the current system, you are changing it anyway.
  9. Effectiveness trumps efficiency every time
  10. Measures of purpose in the hands of staff will blow your mind with how useful they are compared with how indicators are normally used.
  11. Customers will be delighted, not satisfied.
  12. Change really is emergent.
  13. The size of the gains you will get will dwarf any target you could conceivably have set.
  14. Not everyone is interested in the theory.
  15. Once people “get it” they still have just started “getting it”, and still need to learn a whole lot more, as do you.
  16. You really don’t learn about systems thinking in a lecture room or from a book.
  17. You do not talk about Systems Thinking.
  18. You DO NOT talk about Systems Thinking.
  19. The best advert for Systems Thinking is a customer
  20. The second best advert is a member of staff
  21. A distant last is a number in a graph.
  22. People won’t believe you when you tell them the results of systems thinking. “Impossible” they will say.
  23. Once you start experimenting with design, that’s when the real hard work starts.
  24. Teach the thinking about control charts, not the tool or the maths.
  25. Don’t underestimate what people can understand.
  26. Check is a normative experience. It hasn’t worked unless it is.
  27. Not all people will turn up for planned sessions. There are reasons why and it doesn’t matter, things will happen when they can happen.
  28. Propaganda is not a bad word. It is about quickly selling an idea.
  29. Change in a service does not require permission asked for in a report through a hierarchy. Change and improve, then tell them afterwards.
  30. Demand varies in a “simple” service even within a few miles.
  31. If you are stuck hire a consultant to move you on a bit.
  32. No, really, people just won’t believe you when you tell them results. “has this been audited?” they will disbelievingly say.
  33. The washing machine repair man exercise works. And sometimes it doesn’t
  34. People not involved can feel isolated.
  35. People involved can feel isolated.
  36. Never mention the Taguchi Loss Function in an after lunch session.
  37. Go to the work!
  38. It really is Thinking–>System–>Performance
  39. You will have a grammar for work and find you can speak about work usefully with people for the first time.
  40. Rich pictures are more useful than complex traditional process maps.
  41. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
  42. Systems Thinking is a dull name that doesn’t mean anything to most people.
  43. Never use a Japanese word when an English one will do.
  44. Reading about other places that have done Systems Thinking is comforting and tells you when you are doing it right.
  45. The method works, the closer you stick to it the better it works. And vice versa.
  46. At the start of a workshop session ALWAYS do an ice-breaker as there is always ice to be broken.
  47. Never be more than one inferential step ahead.
  48. Don’t bother with people who don’t get it, they just aren’t ready right now, as I wasn’t at some point too.
  49. It is harder than I thought
  50. There’s no such thing as an expert.
  51. It is much more fun than first thought.
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