"Circular Thinking vs Linear Thinking" - Your Thoughts?

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Craig H.

#2
Re: Thoughts?

Interesting. So in a sense, the "big picture" can theoretically be described with a large Venn diagram? And things like governmental regulations, or the decision to attempt something like the Baldridge Award would change the areas of overlap?
 

Tim Folkerts

Super Moderator
#3
Re: Thoughts?

I think this is a good model for thinking about systems and interactions. (I would, however, avoid the term "circular thinking" - it has a negative connotation of assuming what you are trying to prove, and then being pleased when you came to the conclusion you wanted.)

The idea of interaction and overlap of different "wants and needs" is "systems thinking" in a nutshell. As pointed out in the article, changes to one area affect other areas, and also affect the whole. This idea comes up all thr time within organizations, where optimizing one department or employee merely shifts responsbilities and expenses to others.

The car analogy might be changed a little to empahsize the interations. As it is, the factors seem fairly independent. Perhaps consider the design of a car. If you optimize engine performance, you cut down on economy; optimize economy and you reduce passenger space; optimize space and you lose styling; optimize styling, and you may have to compromise on the space for the engine! And all of these will affect sales.


Tim F
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#4
Re: Thoughts? "Circular Thinking vs Linear Thinking"

:topic: Don! Glad to see you're still visiting! I was lamenting your not being around for forum these days just last week!
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#5
Re: Thoughts?

I think this is a good model for thinking about systems and interactions. (I would, however, avoid the term "circular thinking" - it has a negative connotation of assuming what you are trying to prove, and then being pleased when you came to the conclusion you wanted.)
I agree. "Circular" thinking has a negative connotation, and I think that in this application, there are no circles involved, except the imaginary ones depicted in the article. Whether the path of a system is "linear" or not depends on how you define the term. If by "linear" we mean that there is a path from beginning to end, without regard for straight lines, then manufacturing systems are linear, or very nearly so. The fact that a path might be sinuous doesn't disqualify it from being described as linear.

Rather than fretting about Venn and turtle and octopus and god-knows-what-other types of depictions of anfractuous paths, all that's needed is a simple flow diagram (or a set of diagrams) and some common sense. Make sure that at each point of intersection (interaction), people talk to each other. We spend far too much time drawing circles and not nearly enough time improving processes, and if you feel that you must draw circles, or turtles, or cephalopods, then an important point is being missed. IMO.
 
A

Amaterasu

#6
Good day, All! :)

Very interesting paper to teach and discuss for a Systems Engineering class.

That's also what I think and that's also a reason some people think that I'm slow at process design because I like to really analyze the problem instead of an out of the sleeve solution.

Thanks!

:applause:
 
D

Don Winton

#7
I would welcome another term other than ‘circular’ if one can be provided (input appreciated). Thanks. Thoughts?

BTW, I appreciate these inputs and welcome more, please.

Marc,

Glad you have not forgotten me (thanks BTW, for changing the title). I have never left, just been away a while. Hope you do not mind.

Trying to get my inner soul back (sorry for the inconvenience).

Regards,
dWizard
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
I'd suggest using the term "Systems Thinking" rather than circular. My assumption from the title was you were going to compare DMAIC (a once-through linear process) to PDSA (a cyclical process).

The Venn Diagram is an interesting illustration, but I think it still leads us to each individual component must be optimized in order to get us in the overlap of all circles. Problem is, most "wicked problems" (re Dr. Ackoff) may not have an area where all the optimalities overlap. Sometimes I must choose to take a loss in one area in order for the whole to be optimized. An example given by Dr. Deming is the workplace cafeteria that offers food at a price that is a loss, but since the workers stick to the office building to take advantage of the cafeteria, they spend less time away from their office and are more productive.

The whole concept of "breaking down into components" is counter to Systems Thinking. We must focus upon the synthesis of the components upwards to the higher level system.

The Venn diagram may be a good, new thought model for Systems Thinking, but please consider some of these thoughts.
 

Tim Folkerts

Super Moderator
#9
I would welcome another term other than ‘circular’ if one can be provided (input appreciated). Thanks. Thoughts?
How about "compartmentalized thinking" vs "holistic thinking"? You aren't necessarily describing a linear thought process - first A, then B, then C.... Thinking about just the engine on a car, or just your department, or just customers (and not regulations or community, etc) is a comparmentalized, territorial way of thinking. Each ring on the Venn diagram is a "compartment". Managers who only worry about optimizing their own comparment are not necessarily optimizing the whole.

Unfortunatly "holistic" has a slightly negative "new-age" connotation to many, so it might not be the best word either. There are many other alternatives that might work: "local vs global" or "departmental vs system-wide" or "little picture vs big picture". Take your pick or try another.:)
 
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Craig H.

#10
Each ring on the Venn diagram is a "compartment". Managers who only worry about optimizing their own comparment are not necessarily optimizing the whole.
It just struck me that these compartments are like "silos" viewed from the air. I don't know who started using the term silo to describe managerial "kingdoms", but I think it fits. And, if the silos are run like they are not inter-related (which never happens, right?), then the organization is less than completely efficient.

Not to mention a real pain in the ___ to work with.
 
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