Improving things is hard but it’s not complicated, but you’d not believe that if you looked at some methods.

Look at some of these diagrams of real mainstream improvement and management methods.

Those pictures above need a bit of deciphering don’t they? That Shigeo Shingo said that when you’re trying to improve things it should be easier, better, faster, cheaper in that order.  I think the same could apply to the method your using too. Start with easy.   If it’s something that requires a certificate to do, or even worse an examination, then what’s the point? Changing things is hard enough without making it harder.

What I like about systems thinking/Deming/Vanguard is it’s about the thinking. Not about complicated models, tools or methods.  No need for diagrams to be referred to, stage boundary’s to be managed. But if it’s an algorithm that you’re after, how about this…


you are finding out

  • what is happening; and
  • why it is happening


It’s prompting questions that are

  • different; and
  • better


It’s working.

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8 Responses to what+why=different&better

  1. You don’t like the Viable System Model? Blimey. I’m shocked.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      I’ve enjoyed reading about it, it’s triggered some new thoughts & introduced some concepts new to me, but I’ve got no use for it. If I were helping a group of businesses in a co-operative, it might. Seems to be used for a lot of that type of problem.
      But genuinely seems utterly divorced from the problems I’ve seen in the public sector.
      And despite it being a “systems” concept, I have a sneaky feeling about it that at heart it’s quite command and controlly. Some big man designing the whole system, like an architect. But all I’ve done is read a few books and studied it in OU, never seen it in the wild.
      And God it’s complicated. I tried to find an online diagram the same as in the book I have Diagnosing the system for organisations, but couldn’t. It’s like a electronic circuit diagram.


  2. Leyton says:

    Can you let me know which of Shigeo Shingo’s books this quote is from? I’d like to read more. Thanks, 🙂


  3. ThinkPurpose says:

    No idea! It is all over the shop if you Google, but no ultimate source referenced.
    “the internet” is never a good reference is it?


  4. Roy Madron says:

    Excellent post. Re VSM PROBLEMS, I sympathise.
    But having known Stafford from 1970 onwards, I think the best intro to his work is his account of the Chilean Cybersyn project, set out in a lecture entitled Designng Freedom, while it was still being developed shortly before the Pinochet coup.

    I don’t think you can apply systems thinking to really big systems without something like the VSM as the framework, but no-one has yet had the chance to combine Beer/Deming/Argyris et al to tackle a whole city or state.. And that’s what Beer was interested in rather than what he would see as concentrating on Level One systems. Important though they undoubtedly are.


  5. ThinkPurpose says:

    Thanks for the comment, found that thing you mention here


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