Category Archives: systems thinking

So long, and thanks for all the fish

How do you end a blog? It’s easy to find stuff online on how to start one, and there’s loads on how to do one, once it exists, but there’s scant advice on finishing one. I’m not just talking how … Continue reading

Posted in systems thinking | Tagged | 75 Comments

How soon is now?

Is it just me? How many of you have been hired for your expertise and then more or less totally ignored? And in how many of your gigs? — Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei) September 23, 2017 Once upon a time I … Continue reading

Posted in change, command and control, measures, statistics, systems thinking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

The Kung Fu Panda principle.

Imagine you want to buy a bar of chocolate from a supermarket. You are sitting at home, so you need to get in your car, you need to drive to the supermarket, you need to park the car, you need … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

3 reasons why I hate pretty graphs

People prefer the pretty guy over the uglier guy cos they like pretty things more than they like things that are right. For over a decade I’ve been working in an area where the obsession has been about finding just … Continue reading

Posted in data, measures, statistics, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

How to make the world seem REEAAALLLY BOORRRIIIING

How to be bored Take a performance report. Get the data out of those damn tables and silly bar graphs. Stick it in a run chart, or a control chart, s’up to you. Look for any actual change over the … Continue reading

Posted in data, knowledge, statistics, systems thinking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The 2,500 year old lesson everybody ignores cos it’s too hard

Harold MacMillan was once asked, what is most likely to blow governments off course, he replied… Events dear boy, events. And events is what organisations continue to believe will change things, events meaning one off things that happen. When they … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, change, command and control, learning, systems thinking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

I am a police officer. 

When people ask me, “So what do you do, where’d you work?” I reply… I’m a Policy Officer And inevitably people mishear that as police officer. “Oh really!” they exclaim, looking me up and down with surprise. Then I have … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

When is a team meeting NOT a team meeting?

Q: Does your manager cancel it if they cannot attend? A: It’s not a team meeting. It’s the manager’s meeting.Q: Does your manager set and send out the agenda? A: It’s not a team meeting. It’s the manager’s meeting. Q: … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Toads

This gallery contains 3 photos.

“Okay, say you go into the break room, and a couple people you like are there, say someone’s telling a funny story, you laugh a little, you feel included, everyone’s so funny, you go back to your desk with a … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

WANTED: systemsy stuff to cheer me up

I’ve been working in an ordinary command and control organisation TOO LONG. I’m miserable and it makes me think that all work is like this and it can never change. I know it isn’t. I’ve been a part of, and … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, deming, systems thinking | 7 Comments

The secret management model that must not be named

It’s my annual appraisal tomorrow, the lowlight of my year. I announce my opinion of appraisals out loud, and nobody disagrees, most agree, for the usual reasons. “why once a year do you talk about work and how it’s going? … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, plans, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Why WIFFY’s are bad and to be squashed at birth

YEARS ago some clever lady told me… Avoid What If’s, these are called WIFFYs. Never allow them. If you see somebody asking “But…what if?” stop them there and then and ask “has it? do we have data that it is? … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, data, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

First they came for the desks, and nobody said NUFFINK

What’s the DEFINING FEATURE of a bureaucrat?They have a bureau! Or rather, a desk, cos we’re not French and thanks to Brexit no longer have to follow EU regulations on what we call our desks. The bureaucrat has a desk. … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, me doing it, purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity OR Why webstats don’t exist

I’ve been learning how to get data on our website usage from Google Analytics. It’s very hard, both cos Google Analytics front end  is so badly designed and cos you need to learn how websites work. There’s lots of different … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, customer, data, learning, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

How i learned to skip with Toyota

I do skipping at the gym. It looks like this. But i want do be epic at skipping and make the rope go round twice. Like this… These are called “Double Unders”. So called because although you jump up once, the … Continue reading

Posted in change, experiment, questions, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The man who mistook his wife for an actual change in performance

There was once a man who mistook his wife for a hat. This is his wife. This is a hat. He thought Why did he think that? He had a brain injury. The injury affected the way his brain processed … Continue reading

Posted in data, experiment, measures, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

There are only 6 graphs you’ll ever see on a performance report and they’re all rubbish. Here they are.

This is Performance Cat, and she doesn’t like rubbish performance reporting. And she definitely doesn’t like dumbass explanations for meaningless shapes in graphs… One of the more adorable features of performance reporting in normal ordinary command and control organisations is … Continue reading

Posted in data, information, leadership, questions, setting a numerical target is like..., statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

If it’s too complicated to understand it’s probably total nonsense

I stand on the periphery of “improvement activities” going on elsewhere in the organisation. I see things second and third hand through organisational gossip, i.e. people mentioning phrases or names of IT companies doing work elsewhere, somewhere. I’ve got no involvement … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

I am totally positive

I am relentlessly positive about all of the following… -Going to where work is and finding out what happens to customer’s problems -Getting raw data about customers or how we do work that has never been collected before -Sifting signal … Continue reading

Posted in systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged | 1 Comment

Thor describes my purpose

I sit next to the photocopier at work. About 3 times a day somebody printing some papers off will ask me if I have a stapler they can borrow, to staple their papers together. This is a question I am … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

I openly mock Myers Briggs, but an INTP would do

Remember the ThinkPurpose team role quiz? Well, turns out I was a racoon. But ignoring all the distastefulness of categorising people into 16 types in a Buzzfeed style quiz based on bleeding JUNGIAN ARCHETYPES, let’s… Oh, hang on…I CAN’T ignore this idiocy. … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, human brains are weird, psychology, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 35 Comments

The Law Of The Instrument

I can’t stand digital by default. -How about analogue by default instead? I can’t stand digital evangelists. -How about analogue evangelists instead? I can’t stand Head of Digital. -How about Head of Analogue instead? I can’t stand digital offering. -How about … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking, tools | Tagged , , , | 20 Comments

Reality has a liberal bias

This is a  quote from an American comedian, taking the mickey out of imaginary Republicans complaining that reality itself is as biased as the liberal-elite media against Republican beliefs and actions. It is a joke about how people convinced they … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, statistics, systems thinking, targets | Tagged , , , | 22 Comments

Why killing Sweat Angels is the most valuable work I do all day

Most readers of this blog probably sit behind a desk all day, like me. Sipping tea in nice surroundings with nice people. They don’t have to push a mop around the floor cleaning up after others. Dreaming about the dignity … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, purpose, systems thinking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Cloud cuckoo-land

“What matters to me as a customer is getting everything for free. I’d appreciate it if all organisations could just go ahead and arrange that please. No, I didn’t think so.” This comment left on a recent post shows the typical command … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, customer, Demand, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is a pony

You’ll not like this, but you’re not getting a pony for Christmas. You’re also not going to persuade your organisation to go systemsy.  You’re not going to get managers to ditch targets. You’ll not be introducing control charts throughout the … Continue reading

Posted in change, systems thinking | Tagged | 4 Comments

One weird trick to design your organisation, in one easy step! (Management consultants will HATE you!)

Don’t design your organisation for efficiency for managing demand for digital by default to achieve strategic priorities by copying best practice So what do you do then? Do Design against customer purpose That’s it. The predictable value demands presented by … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, customer, purpose, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , | 6 Comments

There really is only one test!

Attention performance people! Attention people who use numbers for performance! That’s you! You have one job! One job only! The purpose of your job, listen up, here it is, I’m about to tell you….it is to find out… “Is the … Continue reading

Posted in statistics, systems thinking, very short posts | Tagged , | 2 Comments

The Curious Case Of The Chart That Didn’t Bark In The Night

“Why has this performance indicator gone down three months in a row?” Regular readers of this blog will know the answer to this question already, without any knowledge of the indicator in question, or the work being measured. “It’s probably … Continue reading

Posted in data, statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Looking good, Billy Ray!

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 … Continue reading

Posted in change, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Computers are weird

Computers are weird. People sit with both open hands held next to each other in front of their body, their palms down. Fingers wiggling. They call this work. They call it work cos they’re at work, and that’s where they … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, purpose, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

We’re number 2! We’re number 2! Yay us! Now who’s US exactly?

About a month or so ago I started getting loooaads of traffic for a really old post from when the blog was still good. This one was about 4 German words we should all use, which is why it was … Continue reading

Posted in communication, learning, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

I am an average employee

Are you a great employee? I’m not, I’m totally average. On twitter I found this pic shared by someone, showing the purported different characteristics of Average and Great employees…. Average Employees vs. Great Employees https://t.co/kZBjuwzwvg — Paul Hopwood (@paulhopwood) October … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, psychology, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

How to be hopelessly untrendy

I got me some data! Done gone put it in a graph! Added meself a TRENDLINE! And me answer is THE TREND IS DOWNWARDS! This is what happens when people get data and have excel. They stick it in and press … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, data, statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Why you SHOULDN’T try to improve performance measures!

Imagine you come across a right mess of performance tat, all targets and comparisons against this time last year. Like this!   You’d want to try and fix it wouldn’t you? Turn them into measures of purpose, chuck the targets and … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, measures, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

The sun is in Uranus

This dude is an ASTROLOGER and… This dude is an ASTRONOMER. They LOOK very similar don’t they? Both staring up at stars, they both use telescopes, they both keep accurate records of  where astronomical bodies are in the night-sky. But … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, measures, setting a numerical target is like..., statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Lean, ISO and 6 Sigma all walk into a bar. Hilarity ensues.

Rejoice! The three titans of ISO, Lean, AND 6th Sigma have come together in an unholy amalgam of codification! At last! Long time fans of onion-related blogs will no doubt remember my very first post, the epoch making “Things I no … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, inspection, lean thinking, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Three Reasons Why National Customer Service Week Is Rubbish! Again!

Balloons! Oh Christ no…..that means it’s National Customer Service Week! Again! As this mistake is repeated every year, I’ve decided to start repeating the exact same blog post I first did two years ago. So, here again is Three Reasons Why … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, customer, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

What’s the purpose of a-SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

I went into PC World last week to help make them into a business. I was going to do this by making myself into a customer of theirs. Until that happens, PC World is not a business, it is just … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, customer, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

How to have an organisational detox!

Ever wanted to empty your mind of organisational bumf? Start again with a fresh clear mind, untainted by this year’s key strategic priority aims? This seasons value statements cluttering your head up too much to think straight? Have an organisational detox! The … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, plausible but untrue, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Your job is not what you think it is

“The role of code developers is not to develop code, but to overcome problems through the use of code.” This sentence is lifted straight from here. It says that… The role of X is not to Y, but to overcome problems … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , | 1 Comment

This mug cost £224,000,000

Well the mug itself didn’t but this is the only visible sign left in this building of a SIMPLY HUGE national computer system built at the cheap cheap rate of a quarter of a billion pounds. It was a database of every … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

You are no Daniel Kahneman, sir, and I would have you unhand me before I call the gendarmie

This is Daniel Kahneman He won a Nobel prize, he has written loads of books, all about how you think and how you make decisions. He has simply loads to offer to help people make better decisions. You’d think that people … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, psychology, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Why do you need a hole in your head?

Why is it that a…  …is a really essential thing to have? Here’s why! You’re the head cook in a primary school. It’s your job to design the menu and make the meals. You want to make the healthiest food … Continue reading

Posted in knowledge, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to spoil someone for work (for ever more)

  There were 7 reasons why you shouldn’t touch systems thinking, and here’s an 8th… 8: You might get a sniff of systemsy heaven, but then end up working in command and control hell. Systems thinking makes no promises about being … Continue reading

Posted in systems thinking, systemz comix, targets | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Are you a policy fashion victim?

I’m a big fan of Nassim Taleb but clearly he’s no fan of the likes of me. My one saving grace?  I do deadlift, 127.5kg for 6 reps, Mr Taleb. He’s never heard of me, but he knows my type.  I’m a … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Look around my eyes, don’t look into my eyes. LASER BEAMS come out ’em

I am trained in advanced persuasion and negotiation. Advanced, mind. So much so that you really should look around my eyes, not into my eyes, cos God knows what I could do with my madd skillz in brain manipulation. This … Continue reading

Posted in experiment, plausible, plausible but untrue, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The 1 thing nobody has ever said about a scorecard (and the 7 things they often do)

What people often say about scorecards 1. This colour symbol is wrong, shouldn’t it be a green? 2. Why isn’t that an up arrow? 3. There’s a spelling mistake in the comments 4. The formatting is slightly off. Needs more … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, measures, purpose, questions, systems thinking, targets, thinking | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The Systemsy Policy Officer takes a bow

There’s loads of models of work hanging around. Everybody has one. There’s the dopey triangles with important people at the pointy end… There’s the more credible, though no less hopeful, model of a sensible organisation designing their system around purpose … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

E=Q*A FFS!

In my last post we all had a good giggle about how some improvement methods relegate the actual improvement to an afterthought, with managers doing it as a result of being sold and persuaded of a really good idea provided to … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, lean thinking, plausible but untrue, public sector, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments