This is a systems thinking blog.
There’s a type of systems thinking I don’t mention here called Soft Systems Methodology, or SSM. I’ve never actually used it as a method, not out loud and proud.
But the key word is systems THINKING.
And SSM is great for thinking about things yourself. It’s a structured way of thinking in systems.
A part of the method is to use diagrams of a system, to have a structured debate about what it currently is and what it could and should be changed into.
A question asked during this is..
“Is this change systemically desirable and culturally feasible?”
There are two parts to this, tackling two issues. Is the change..
1: systemically desirable.
This means given the purpose of the system, given what it is supposed to achieve in what way, then are the changes needed to achieve this? Would the system get more coherent and congruent to its purpose?
2: culturally feasible.
This asks the question, is it POSSIBLE given the culture and beliefs, the norms and values, of where we are.
Ponderous stuff eh? It’s why I’ve never bothered talking about SSM, and cos quite frankly you could do SSM and still sit in your executive strategic suite, fully insulated from reality, drowning in operational ignorance, and still correctly say that you’re doing “systems thinking”. Cos you are, a branch of it.
Anyway, this question, systemically desirable and culturally feasible, I reckon managers and leaders do actually ask it in the course of change… Just the wrong way round.
I think the question they ask of the change they plan is actually…
Is it Systemically feasible and is it culturally desirable?
This is a very different question indeed.
It asks “the change we’re gonna do, firstly CAN we do it in the system we’ve got? Is it feasible?
Secondly, what will people make of it? If it’s not wanted, how can we make people want it?”
See the difference?
It starts from ALREADY having decided what you want to do, not from working out what should be done, and whether it could be done.
This is the feel good method of managing change. It is about bulldozing changes into a system, and schmoozing the people in it to “want” the change.
Anyway. Here’s what Billy-Ray Valentine had to say about it yesterday…