In the last months we felt more and more strongly that we are caught in a vicious circle of activities, of the drive for results, of the stress generated by the need of finishing things up, but also of the whole emotional diversity accompanying everything we do.
I feel it almost in every discussion I have with my clients. People caught in today’s rapid pace, economic growth offers us a favourable context for developing the businesses in which we are involved. We are hiring people, we are establishing KPIs, we have new clients, new contracts, purchase orders are flowing and production goes well, we invest in technology – there is a need for all of these, taking the pressure of costs into account – and it is a need to be fulfilled as quickly as possible.
In this whole above mentioned picture we have several insertions from the political environment. The political class has its own perspective when it comes to supporting the economic environment in 2017. From taxes announced today and moved, in about a month, to the category “discussed and forgotten”, to a communication in terms of “bad” (companies without profit) and “good” (we, the punishing authorities), in the end we have a battle in the public space. The protagonists of this battle change each month. We are adding newer and newer elements to the “bad” category.
And it is not only that. If in 2016 we were encouraging the concept of “Inspectors of the Forests” and we were engaging society in this action of reporting abuses and illegal deforestations, in 2017 the concept is beginning to be gradually eliminated under the umbrella of some weak arguments. In other words, what we were once building, today we are destroying.
What are we witnessing? The eternal tandem between stimulus and reaction. There are things happening around us, and our reaction is prompt. It is the trap we are frequently falling into, to put down the flames which burn so strongly and noticeably. We establish our priorities depending on the context in which we activate, on the influences around us, being focused on immediate results. When we put down the fire, we are “looking” almost unconsciously the next similar situation, the next stimulus.
But things change. It is clear that we need another kind of people, we need skills to help us develop the companies we are working for.
The solution at hand is to look for those skills, to have a focus on hiring new managers who possess this “system mindset”. Actually, this is what it is all about! About the capacity of thinking in systems, of creating these systems and implementing them.
A few days ago, we were establishing together with the stakeholders of a company, an organisational structure to be reaching approximately 800 employees. It is clear you need managers with a “system mindset”, especially when you are building structures, you are establishing fluxes, you need to offer your people predictability, implementing systems can help you. And we update these systems! Taiichi Ohno best explains this new concept of thinking in systems when he says: “Toyota style is not to create results by working hard. It is a system that says there is no limit to people’s creativity. People don’t go to Toyota to ‘work’ they go there to ‘think’”.
Let us not see these systems as a compound of norms and procedures which turn teams into “robots” who follow them. These are dynamic systems which allow the adaptation to a moving market, to clients ‘requirements, but also to the need of creating a predictable environment to ensure us meeting certain KPIs.
But what are the steps to creating these systems?
- Decanting, dividing into elements and redefining the system: is the process through which we explore, analyse and conclude the 3 elements: work, people and relationship system. It means creating systems out of nothing or to eliminate those systems which do not help us evolve.
- Research: creating those objectives, principles and process (in writing) that guide our actions and decision-making for us and or teams. This step is essential to building the foundation of the system, to ensure that we are efficient.
- System maintenance: a normal stage which means fine-tuning for a better functioning or rethinking the system, in case external conditions make it less efficient.
I wanted to bring this “system mindset” closer to you. We need such people in an organisation!
Please forgive me if I used too many words, I promise to define a system for myself when I am writing. 🙂
P.S.: Do we think in terms of creating a system? Can we learn to think in such terms? Leave your thoughts here, in writing…