I have been reading a book manuscript which covers the basics of systems thinking, and the author has done a great job with a pretty dry subject. His book will be extremely useful, for it covers concepts all business organizations need to understand, and I will let you know when he is ready with his publication announcement.
Briefly, systems thinking is the premise that the work of all organizations can be broken down into inter-connected systems of inputs and outputs, and that everything is a system, not just the IT stuff. I first learned systems thinking as The Law of the Harvest, and still remember its core premise best that way: Ye shall reap what ye have sown —and don’t forget to water and fertilize.
Systems thinking can border academic and yawn-inducing for most people in a company, but it’s the stuff that project managers drool over, at least the great ones do. What I will usually concentrate on in my coaching, is giving those project managers some help in getting everyone else excited about their stuff too.
Macintosh User Manual – Chapter 1
by peterme, found on Flickr.
As I’ve read through the manuscript I find I am left with one thought over and over again: Until you get to the point that you automate them, effective systems require heaps of effective communication throughout the process. Then after that, you need even more communication when you trouble-shoot, audit and tweak through time. Even exceptionally outstanding thinking does very little good when it remains locked up in someone’s brain and is not shared with everyone else involved.
I was thrilled that the author got that; do you?
Great managers have this internal radar for people in their organization who are thinkers but not talkers. Those are the people that a great manager will seek to spend more time with, usually finding that once they can get them to talk story the floodgates open. It’s not just those squeaky wheels that should get the grease; all the wheels need some. When someone doesn’t say something, it doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t seen something —and thought of a better way of approaching it.
So what’s keeping them from speaking up?
Well, that’s what great managers and great co-workers aim to find out. If that person is you, you can be the most valuable asset your company has.
Here’s some archive-tripping: