Tuesday 4 March 2014

Can a senior management team use systems thinking for strategic planning?

Of course the answer is yes. As long as you can get into a position to see the organisation as a system, including the context in which it operates.

One of the fundamental concepts of Lean and Systems Thinking is taking an outside-in perspective – typically from the customers’ perspective. At a strategic level, this may include other stakeholders such at shareholders. Being able to get far enough away from the business to see it in its context can be difficult for managers – so some help is often needed here.

When the managers are in the right place – then it’s back to basics:
  • what is the purpose of the organisation (from the customers perspective)?
  • who are the customers? and
  • what matters to them?

In my experience, this reduces ‘thinking linearly’ because they are thinking from a fresh perspective, rather than from their current position. It’s not unlike the Einstein quote of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

You have to be in a different place to be able to see that something different can be done. And help to establish the greatest point of leverage is almost always necessary.