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

Organizational Basics
Next Here: The Pain. The Practical Remedy.
By Bob Powell,

The Pain: Which of these drive you crazy?

Short-term problems?

  • Too many fires to fight.
  • Recurring problems defy solution.
  • Long-term improvement doesn't get priority.
  • We don't know if TQM provides the results it should.
  • People go along, but don't participate wholeheartedly.
  • Meetings are boring & start late.

Medium-term problems?

  • We tried "team building" ... but it didn't seem to work.
  • Conflicts drag on.
  • We avoid discussing the "real" issues.
  • You know what to do; it's frustrating that others remain unconvinced.
  • Too many projects are either delayed or overrun budget.

Long-term problems?

  • We try to grow, but can't seem to make it happen.
  • We don't know if our strategy is effective ... we need to know sooner.
  • Change is "the pits" ... we're too slow to adapt.

The problem is that organizations don't have mere problems, they have messes! We can help. 

The Remedy: How can we overcome them?

By learning. So why don't we learn?

Single- and Double-Loop Learning. We don't learn without feedback.
We don't learn because we don't set up the needed feedback. Often we don't know it's missing, how to productively think about it, or how to set it up.

The figure shows the feedback associated with single- and double-loop learning. Single-loop learning (R1) is the principle behind TQM and a narrow definition of continuous improvement: observe a process, take corrective action, and then observe some more to learn and adapt. Excellent work.

Double-loop learning (R2) is a higher level of learning. We examine our thinking (our mental models) to learn how to make better decisions, even with the same data. We don't just adapt, we create new ways of doing things. It's generative, creating a new reality.

Systems thinking is the appropriate approach to relieve these stresses. Using methods based on systems thinking we can improve processes, organizations and learning ... all of which are vital for success.  Learning Requires Languages, Brains, & Skills

Specific Remedies: What You Can Do

For Short-Term Improvement

For Medium-Term Improvement

For Long-Term Improvement

More: Practical Systems Thinking (287K)

© 2003 Continuous Improvement Associates

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