Category Archives: systems thinking

Is this true?

Every organisation is a learning organisation. It’s just that most aren’t very good at it at all. Yes, I said it. A learning organisation is just any organisation, whether it chooses to learn how to get better at pursuing its … Continue reading

Posted in learning, systems thinking, very short posts | Tagged , | 21 Comments

I turned down a 40% pay rise…here’s why!

Years ago I turned down opportunity of a 40% pay rise. Here’s what happened…. When I came into work there were 4 emails from colleagues, all saying the same thing… APPLY FOR THIS JOB. A job was advertised paid more, … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, knowledge, lean thinking, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

I’ve had it with average and why you should too

Who’s the biggest out of these two guys? Is it the guy on the left? He’s barrel chested, bulky looking guy. Could be. But he’s kind of short. What about the guy on the right? He’s biggest cos he’s taller? … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, data, knowledge, statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

3 more things performance management GETS ALL WRONG

As Jay Z asserts, there is plenty wrong with performance management. And here’s 3 more! Name  The reverse pantomime horse gambit What is it? An organisation decides to do something, writes down a group of words and calls it an objective/goal/priority AND THEREFORE IT … Continue reading

Posted in data, measures, public sector, statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to be fooled by randomness

This is a roulette wheel. It is a machine for producing numbers between 0 and 36. Sometimes it produces a 7… Then sometimes it produces a 13… If a 7 is produced on one spin and a 13 on the … Continue reading

Posted in data, leadership, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How to learn Kung Fu in 1 easy step

Q: How do you learn Kung Fu? A: Attend a 1 hour training session in Kung Fu. Hey presto…. April Fool! That won’t work, if you want to know Kung Fu you’d have to train for years. One hour will do … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, knowledge, learning, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

7 signs it is all going to go wrong

1: Men with pens in rooms If you’re in a room with men with pens, just leave. It will inevitably result in documents. Certain and self assured documents. That’s what the pens are for. If you’re in a room with … Continue reading

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

Give it away for FREE!

Imagine you go to a bus-stop and take out a ten pound note and shout to the people waiting…. Everybody will think you’re mad and ignore you. Now imagine you took that £10 and posted it through your neighbour’s letterbox. … Continue reading

Posted in communication, customer, learning, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Service Level Agreement- 3 little lies

A Service Level Agreement sounds so reasonable. Eminently reasonable. It sets out explicitly what will be done for a customer. A service level agreement (SLA) is a contract between a service provider (either internal or external) and the end user … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m a glittering generality!

I have a job! A proper job which pays taxes, but I’m no hard working taxpayer. This is not because I’m bone idle, though I am, but because “hard working taxpayers” don’t exist. There are people who work hard at a job, … Continue reading

Posted in communication, plans, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

I don’t know much about control charts (but I know what I like)

I’ve never been trained in using control charts, never passed a test or worked with anyone who’s knowledgeable in them. Everything I’ve learned has been off of the Internet Or books, books as well, they’re famously good for learning. Cunninghams Law … Continue reading

Posted in data, deming, information, learning, measures, statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Naughty…but nice

Say the phrase “Command and control management” out loud. Doesn’t sound nice does it? What do you think when you hear it? Things like… Call centre staff told to poo on their own time. Hospital patients dying to meet hospital targets. … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, change, command and control, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

What fresh hell is THIS?

No fresh hell sweetie. Just the latest incarnation of a stale and very familiar hell. Do you recognise this… yawning at yet another exactly-the-same organisational transformation? wiping sleep out of your eyes at yet another whizz-bang IT venture that’ll save lots … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, learning, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

How NOT to do demand

Just like Batman, demand management is an insane attempt to solve a problem. In this case demand  management is an attempt to solve the problem of less money in the public sector, but in a totally insane way. We here … Continue reading

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

The one thing you shouldn’t bother changing and the one thing you should

Lots of organisations try to change culture. They try and change that loads. But nobody really knows what it is. Not enough to point at and say “that’s culture there” and “that isn’t“. The Harvard Business Review says… “there is … Continue reading

Posted in change, command and control, plausible but untrue, psychology, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Miss Universe and who’s to blame

Miss Colombia was crowned Miss Universe 2015! And THEN a few minutes later, the tiara was removed from her head, the sash from her shoulders and put on Miss Philippines. Miss Philippines was now Miss Universe instead of poor Miss … Continue reading

Posted in human brains are weird, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Zinn Principle

We were not born critical of existing society. There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed … Continue reading

Posted in learning, questions, systems thinking | Tagged | 2 Comments

How to write a report (part two)

Remember last week’s post told you all about How To Write A Report? To write a lush report you’ve got to remember not to just report numbers and facts but actually do some analysing because… The purpose of analysis is … Continue reading

Posted in change, command and control, learning, public sector, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to write a report (part one)

Hi! If you’re anything like me, you’re an office drone who types for a living. It isn’t as important as making things or healing people, but it IS a living. One of the main tasks of modern-day typists like me is … Continue reading

Posted in communication, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Not one reply

Exactly a week ago I invited readers to send in their own stories about how offering data, creating normative learning opportunities and plain nagging had resulted in some type of systemsy incident. That it is possible to create change upwards … Continue reading

Posted in change, deming, leadership, psychology, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged | 24 Comments

Write your own blog post!

Posted in systems thinking, systemz comix, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Why I cannot stand leaders

I just cannot stand leaders. Simply cannot stand the very idea of leaders. Look at them! Look how special they think they are! Look how special we think they are. It’s our own fault, we fetishize them. We call them … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, knowledge, leadership, systems thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

The Chris Pratt dance-off against Organisational Transformation programmes everywhere!

*****The gifs take a while to load, they’re not just photos but actually move. Worth the wait. **** Possibly the funkiest take down of Organisational Transformation programmes you’ll see this week…. Like all good systems thinkers everywhere Chris Pratt, or … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, leadership, systems thinking, systemz comix, vanguard method | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wanted: Effective person to make efficiencies

I came across a job description. It was for a Business Transformation Improvement type. The document contains the word “efficiency” or variations thereof, 4 times. All in the context of “making” efficiencies. The word “effective”, or variations thereof,  is in … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, lean thinking, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

250,000 ways to be a management consultant

Tomorrow my blog should hit a quarter of a million views. Yay me. This actually means nothing at all. It’s an arbitrary number that allows me to use the word “million” and thus transfer some glamour onto the act of … Continue reading

Posted in public sector, strategic, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , | 27 Comments

A paper exercise

Once upon a time I had to write a plan. I was the Directorate Performance Management officer, so I wrote the Directorate Plan. I sat at my dining room table and I WROTE A PLAN. Except I didn’t. I wrote on … Continue reading

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

Only bullies, cowards or fools set targets

This is the story of a teacher in a UK school who was set a target of 75% exam pass rate. This summer the pass rate was 65%. If we ignore all the things we know about measures and targets … Continue reading

Posted in systems thinking, targets | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

I’m not touching that, it’ll do me back in!

This settee is crucial to this post , so take a good look at it. Harder. Go on, put your nose right up to it. This nasty looking thing used to be in my living room, there’s paint on it … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, public sector, purpose, systems thinking, systemz comix, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The Systems Thinking Drinking Game

If you’ve been trying to introduce systems thinking into your organisation for a bit,  you’ll have heard the same things trotted out as excuses reasons why not give it a go. So here’s The Systems Thinking Drinking Game! It will … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, lean thinking, systems thinking, vanguard method, very short posts | Tagged | 3 Comments

When I hear the word “values”… I reach for my gin

That man was a Nazi, and this blog has no truck with that, but I have a similar reaction to talk of organisational culture, in particular, values I don’t get values. I think they’ve been spoiled for me by too … Continue reading

Posted in change, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

A manager’s guide to good and bad measures

How can you tell if you’ve been sold a pup? If some performance spod is fobbing you off with nonsense instead of good sound performance information? Just check what’s put in front of you against this 5 point guide to … Continue reading

Posted in measures, systems thinking, targets, vanguard method | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The house that looks like Hitler

Remember the house that looks like Hitler? Course you do, it’s a house that looks like Hitler. What’s to forget? There’s loads of things that look like faces. There is the tampon machine that just loves checkin’ the ladies out… … Continue reading

Posted in human brains are weird, information, psychology, statistics, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

One weird trick to outfox the Henry Ford gambit

I done got a letter from a reader! Here is a dramatic reconstruction…. Remember these two diagrams? THIS one, the usual, the boring old triangle? And then there is this one, the one thats not a triangle, the one that … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, plausible but untrue, public sector, purpose, strategic, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , ,

The evolution of the error

For the past two years or so you’ve been getting bills from npower for gas. But you’ve had no gas supply in your flat for about 20 years when you had the boiler and meter taken out, and your heating … Continue reading

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

Hitler gets the SATS results

See, even Hitler was driven to tears by irrational target based standard setting.

Posted in all wrong, command and control, systems thinking, targets | Tagged , ,

Why I hate Ofsted

I’ve got an eleven year old in final year of primary school and Ofsted are ruining his education. Next week is SATS week. In that week children of the same age all around the country will be tested on how … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

How to do a SWOT

In the most strategic of rooms in my building, I found an agenda on a flipchart. It is not exceptional, it is typical. This probably happens in your building. This is how decisions are made…. *the photo is real **the words … Continue reading

Posted in communication, learning, public sector, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

The loneliest whale in the world.

Meet the loneliest whale in the world. She doesn’t speak the same language as other whales so they can’t hear her. This is the same as systemsy talking. Once your mental model changes from stupid ol’ command and control to … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, communication, human brains are weird, psychology, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to create phonecalls you don’t want

Step 1: Do something that doesn’t solve the customer’s problem for them. Step 2: Err… that’s it. A fellow onion informs me of the fantastic efforts of a Government benefits department to create phonecalls from nothing. The department has to pay … Continue reading

Posted in command and control, customer, public sector, systems thinking, thinking, vanguard method | Tagged , ,

Why the [insert favourite] sector is best

This is Michael Portillo on my telly five minutes ago on BBC1 TV programme “This Week” speaking complete… He was talking about a revolting scandal in a hospital that came to light. In a hospital midwives who were infatuated with … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, systems thinking, thinking | Tagged , ,

Seinfeld explains the great big fat work lie

******I’ve had feedback that these Gifs will take forever to load. They’re not static pics. That’s just your net speed. But it’s worth the wait, they’re HILARIOUS I promise you ******* There’s a cult of work as pure activity in … Continue reading

Posted in all wrong, command and control, customer, public sector, strategic, systems thinking | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Why public sector IT is like a fart

A council faced with an IT product WILL buy it in the end. It’s like holding in a fart. Sooner or later it’s going to happen, and nothing can hold it back forever.

Posted in command and control, public sector, RuinedByBestEfforts, systems thinking, tools | Tagged , , ,

Your cheatsheet for why league tables are total balls

Public Sector bodies waste huge amounts of money on total balls. One of the most futile are the self-created league tables of performance indicators, showing where their organisation is on sorted lists against other similar organisations. Even though the government got rid … Continue reading

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

The difference between lean and systems thinking

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker

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

What business are you in?

 I was in Chicago airport, drinking from a water fountain, and I saw this out the corner of my eye…. I was intrigued, so I squatted  down next to the pillar and read the words… This is telling the poor … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, purpose, systems thinking | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

How to hide Fred in a performance report

These are clients of an Adult Social Care service, look how unhappy they are… These are the symbols on the performance report for that very same service…. Why are these so different? The faces of the old people are measuring … Continue reading

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

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Here's an excerpt: Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 61,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert … Continue reading

Posted in systems thinking | Tagged

Merry Triangle! Again

Remember when I used to hate triangles? Still do. So here’s my most hate filled post about them from 2 years ago, to advertise ThinkPurpose’s Christmas break. Ho ho ho, etc  

Posted in command and control, systems thinking, systemz comix | Tagged ,

What writing this blog taught me about pull

There’s always been a strong tang of resigned self pity running through this blog, like the reek of faeces in a brace of grilled andouillettes. This post however should truly please the connoisseur of bleak despair. Read on, and enjoy … Continue reading

Posted in change, command and control, me doing it, public sector, systems thinking | Tagged , ,

Three  things that will make you a brill presenter

Q: What’s better than the world’s best PowerPoint? A: No PowerPoint. Literally. The internet is full of good stuff on how to do, and not do, PowerPoint. The VERY best thing to do is avoid it altogether. Whatever you do, … Continue reading

Posted in clarity of purpose, communication, psychology, systems thinking | Tagged , ,