“Creating value for customers is ultimately accomplished through effective systems thinking”
Systemic thinking focuses us on the whole business and not silos. This then highlights the entire value flow from customer order to customer satisfaction, reducing lead times. When we fail to think of the interconnections of an organisation, we do not have a clear and compelling vision for the business and stray off track in our pursuit of perfection.
Subsequently improvements do not reach full value as they focus on the silo and not the system, measurements are not aligned to our shared purpose and customer focus is lost. Systems thinking is needed more than ever because we are becoming overwhelmed by complexity in our daily work. Systems thinking will replace complexity with simplicity and remove silo thinking.
Variation in behaviours leads to variation in ideal results. Complexity undermines confidence and responsibility in people; “it’s all too complicated” or “there’s nothing I can do”, or “it’s the way we have always done things”. Systems thinking is the route to simplicity by removing waste, increasing capacity, reducing lead times and operating costs; doing more for less.
It provides organisations with operational discipline and removes the fog from our daily processes and management, aligning them to our purpose, seeing the whole and not just the part. Effective standard work flows from systems thinking and it codifies what we do as the best standard we currently know: in excellent organisations people should be constantly challenging systems in the pursuit of perfection.
“When systems are aligned to purpose and values, they influence people’s behaviours towards ideal results” Operational discipline is therefore the bedrock of a culture of excellence. Practising systems thinking leads to standard business systems becoming common place, developed by the people for the business. When we think linear thoughts, we don’t see the whole picture.
Nothing is ever influenced in just one direction. Every action has a reaction. The key to systems thinking is seeing in circles of influence rather than in straight lines. This is the first step in breaking out of fixed mindsets that come from linear thinking and into the growth mindset of excellence.
Business systems that support people’s work ensure a continuous flow of both product and information. They also facilitate improvements that flow knowledge for sharing, collaboration and learning to happen effortlessly. This is the start of becoming a learning organisation. Effective systems thinking ensures the continuous flow of information and product to support customer focus.