Source: Continuous Improvement Associates
http://www.exponentialimprovement.com/cms/importance.shtml

Organizational Basics
Why ST? Professionals Rank It: Very Important!
By Bob Powell, 2/1/03

Project Managers, Quality Professionals & Business Students
rank exponential improvement and systems thinking as very important.

These papers describe the results of having project management and quality professionals rank their importance:
- Barriers to Long-term Improvement 
- Project Management Dynamics

See this paper on Thinking about Projects & Long-term Improvement for an overview.

In a March 2003 presentation/workshop with the Colorado Springs chapter of the Project Management Institute, participants ranked the following as the top influences leading to project failure:

BLACK: issues related to project management
RED: issues related to production processes
BLUE: issues related to business processes
PURPLE: issues related to systems thinking

1

Poor definition of the scope of the project

2

Lack of project management discipline

3

Fire fighting and crisis

4

Poor business processes

5

Incomplete specifications

6

Poor change control

7

Inadequate systems thinking

8

Group multiple personality disorder: too little use of the "wheel of learning"

9

Project does not support company value proposition

10

Defensive routines … that lead to "skillful incompetence"

The amazing thing about this is that influences like "inadequate systems thinking," "the wheel of learning," and "defensive routines" ranked in the top 10 when partipants had little, if any, exposure to these concepts and system dynamics gets barely a mention in the PMBOK.

And "poor business processes" and "not in support of company value proposition" are often not thought of as part of the project management problem, per se. These tend to produce projects where "the operation was a success, but the patient died."

Quality professionals have comparable observations on barriers to long-term improvement.

1

Lack of Management Investment in Training

2

More Reward & Recognition for Firefighting than Prevention

3

Excess Short Term Pressure from Wall Street

4

Reactive Maintenance vs. Preventive Maintenance

5

Ad hoc Changes to Processes

6

Excess Focus on Correcting Defects

7

Job Insecurity Due to Fear of Blame

8

High Organizational Complexity

9

Attribution that People Are the Problem

10

Excess Scope of Initiatives


After a course on Systems Thinking, Business Students rank it as most important:

"Systems Thinking & Problem Solving" Course:
Class Ranking of Organizational Problems, Initial & Final
, 10/08/03 & 12/17/03 (23K)
Link 
Selected Observations:
- In the final class "Systems Thinking" was ranked #1; it did not appear in the initial ranking.
- "Communication," "Shared Vision" & "Team Learning" remain highly ranked.
- "Process Problems, Crisis & Firefighting" rose to a much higher rank: from 8 to 4.
- "Time for Learning & Practicing" is ranked 6: and did not appear in the initial ranking.
- "Mental Models," "Personal Mastery" & "Financial Accounting, Too Great Dependence on" did not appear in the initial ranking.

© 2003 Continuous Improvement Associates

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