The SSOCM approach to operations change management differs from most other consultancy companies because it is rooted in Systems Thinking. System Thinking has taught us that sustained change in performance requires:
- Both Systemic and Systematic Change:
Without systemic change the value and viability of any systematic change, will be undermined and curtailed because of a System’s desire to achieve homeostasis (The property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant). Homeostasis explains why:
- So much change activity fails to achieve its original objectives,
- Initial improvements in performance are not sustained or oscillate,
- The application of improvement methods such as Total Quality Management, Business Process Re-engineering, Lean, Six Sigma, or Balanced Scorecard, initiatives have failed in many organisations, and yet succeeded in others (despite the same persistence and effort).
- A Multi-perspective Understanding:
This aspect of the SSOCM approach to operational change can be simply explained through the story of The Blind Men and The Elephant where six blind men come into contact with an elephant for the first time and because they encounter different aspects of the same elephant they fall into a heated argument as to who was right in describing the big beast, all sticking to their own perception. The argument is resolved by a wise sage who states:
Each one of you is correct; and each one of you is wrong. Because each one of you had only touched a part of the elephant’s body. Thus you only have a partial view of the animal. If you put your partial views together, you will get an idea of what an elephant looks like.”
That is, one’s subjective experience and perception of a situation can be true, but that this very experience and perception is inherently limited by its failure to account for other truths or a totality of truth.
- An Interconnected and Holistic Viewpoint:
SSOCM believes that too many managers have had the ‘reductionist’ approach to ‘fixing’ problems ingrained into their problem solving practice throughout their education and early careers, and this in turn has lead to the ‘interconnectedness’ of the system in which the problem exists being lost/ignored.
Managers are not confronted with problems that are independent of each other, but with dynamic situations that consist of complex systems of changing problems that interact with each other. I call such situations messes… Managers do not solve problems: they manage messes.” – Russell Ackoff
In other words, ‘the system will bite back’ and either damped the impact of the initial improvements achieved or cause a new problem to emerge elsewhere.
As a result SSOCM have adopted a ‘Practitioner’ approach to consultancy.
The SSOCM Practice
The SSOCM Practice consists of four core elements:
We believe this places continuous learning, for all parties, at the heart of any engagement, and which in turn allays the fears of operational staff that we arrive on site armed with stock answers/solutions/tools! As we impart The SSOCM Practice to our clients, we too hope to enhance our own personal practice and Systems Thinking capabilities (otherwise we would not be practicing what we preach).