Beyond Continuous Improvement with Russell Ackoff
This presentation is from a 1994 event hosted by Clare Crawford-Mason and Lloyd Dobyns to capture the Learning and Legacy of Dr. W. Edwards Deming. Russ knew Dr. Deming and speaks here about the difference between "continuous improvement" and "discontinuous improvement" as seen through the lens of systems thinking.
- Quality - meeting or exceeding the expectations of the customer or the consumer
- Quality Improvement - if the customer expectations not met then it's a failure
- The reasons for the failures is because they have been anti-systemic applications
- A whole that consists of parts, each of which can affect its behavior or its properties.
- Each part of the system when it affects the system is dependent for its effect on some other part. The parts are interdependent. No part of the system, or collection of parts of the system, has an independent affect on it.
- A system is a whole that can not be divided into independent parts.
- Essential, or defining properties of any system, are properties of the whole that none of its parts have.
- When a system is taken apart is looses its essential properties.
- A system is not the sum of the interaction of its parts but the product of their interactions.
- If we have a system of improvement directed at improving the parts taken separately you can be absolutely certain that the performance of the whole will not be improved.
- The performance of a system depends on how the parts fit together, not how they perform separately.
- Never modify the whole to improve the quality of the parts unless the quality of the whole is also simultaneously improved.
- Finding deficiencies and getting rid of them is not a way of improving the performance of the system. An improvement program must be directed at what you want, not at what you don't want. And, determining what you do want requires redesigning the system, not for the future, but for right now, and asking yourself what would you do right now if you could do whatever you wanted to. If you don't know what you would do if you could do what you wanted to do how could you ever know what you would do under constraints?
- Continuous improvement isn't nearly as important as discontinuous improvement. Creativity is a discontinuity. One never becomes a leader by continuously improving. That's imitation of the leader. You only become a leader by leapfrogging those who are ahead of you.
- Drucker - distinction between doing things right and doing the right things. One might better be doing the right things wrong than doing the wrong things right.
- Quality should contain the notion of value not simply efficiency.
- Quality should be directed at effectiveness, not efficiency.
- The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
- Until managers take into account the systemic nature of their organizations most of their efforts to improve their performance are doomed to failure.
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