Circular vs. Linear - We look at systems the wrong way

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Don Winton

#1
My special thanks to Rip Stauffer of the DEN for putting into words what I have been preaching (or nagging, depending upon your point of view).

-------Snip-------

Part of it is that we are products of an upbringing that looks at systems the wrong way. We see a system (say four units in larger units-platoons in a company, departments on a ship or whatever) like this:

A+B+C+D= the system.

So we think that if we have the best possible A, the best possible B, C and D, we will have the best possible system. It sounds good, but it is wrong. It ignores a fundamental truth about systems-that systems are not merely collections of components thrown together. Systems are defined more by their interactions (and, of course, the product of all the interactions-the aim) than by their components.

A Venn Diagram is a better picture of a system. With a Venn Diagram you get to see that it's not A+B+C+D, but A+B+C+D+(A intersect B)+(B intersect C)+(C intersect D)...+(A intersect B intersect C intersect D). So it's OK to optimize A, but you have to do it with an appreciation for how it will affect (A intersect B), (A intersect C), (A intersect D), (A intersect B intersect C), (A intersect C intersect D) and (A intersect B intersect C intersect D). If you do NOT understand those interactions and the effect your "optimization" efforts have on them, you have no business whatsoever attempting to optimize, as you stand in danger of actually becoming a disease that will harm, cripple or kill the larger system.

-------End Snip-------

Those familiar with the Venn diagram will immediately see the truth of this picture. From another of my posts:

There are those that would focus on customer wants so intently they would drive the organization to the brink of extinction. I have seen it before and I see it now. But these are the same folks that see a system as a sum of its parts, which is not true.
I guess what I am trying to say is that to concentrate on any singular portion of a system without regard to the rest of the components of that system is doomed to failure, with the degree of that failure proportional to the lack of concentration on the balance of the components.
I wrote the words above with the knowledge but without the simplicity of Rip’s model. But upon review, I realize that the Venn diagram is a very good example of system/circular thinking. No singular component of a true system is mutually exclusive, it has to interact with the other components. My statistical training knew they could not be mutually exclusive, but my lack of statistical training kept the Venn model at arms length. Now, I SEE it as well as conceptualize it. Thanks again, Rip.

Define the organization as A, the shareholders as B, the customer as C and the community as D and you will see my point. These are then broken down into smaller Venn diagrams, each optimized with regards to the others, resulting in a better overall system (whole). Similar to an affinity diagram, start at the innermost points and work your way back, or with a Venn, out.

So it's OK to optimize A, but you have to do it with an appreciation for how it will affect (A intersect B), (A intersect C), (A intersect D), (A intersect B intersect C), (A intersect C intersect D) and (A intersect B intersect C intersect D).
Again, a good example of this is the automobile. Try the Venn on your car, and you will see it. Try it on your organization. The truth is out there. Catch it if you can.

If you do NOT understand those interactions and the effect your "optimization" efforts have on them, you have no business whatsoever attempting to optimize, as you stand in danger of actually becoming a disease that will harm, cripple or kill the larger system.
I sincerely hope the above will help us all, including myself, better understand system/circular thinking and avoid the pitfalls of linear thinking.

Comments, anyone.

Just the ramblings of an old wizard warrior.

Regards,
Don
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#2
Don,

It didn't take me long to figure that you would post on this topic.

The Venn diagram is an excellent visual tool. Very cool stuff! Very powerful too! I too wish I thought of that. The sad thing, while studying for the CQE, you review the diagram and insersections/unions. Funny thing, if you aren't looking for it, you may never find it, even when it stares you in the face.

Last week I attended a Seminar on Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty. The Venn diagram was used to show a "secure" customer. In order to have a 'secure' customer (loyal), the example used the diagram comprising of three circles representing, very satisfied with, definately would recommend, and definately would continue to buy labels (these three key ingredients are needed to make a loyal customer). In order for you to achieve customer loyalty, the circles (arranged in a triangle) must overlap, creating the intersection. The larger the overlap, the higher percentage of customer loyalty (more secure customers). Without an intersection, no loyalty, only varying levels of satisfaction. I saw this and thought to myself, how profound a visual statement. The proverbial picture means a thousand words rang true.

To the diagram created by Rip: 'total' system optimization occurs when all subsystem lie one on top of the other. The perfect world, all systems intersect to form one circle. Clever on illustrating how making an adjustment in one subsystem could affect each other subsystem differently. Adjust A too much (or any other letter), totally eliminate any level of 'total' system optimization. I like this diagram very much. Giving me more ideas. I still may short out at some point today! I'll deal with that then.

Good post Don! Back to the group...
 
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Dusty

#3
Don, This stands to reason:

So it's OK to optimize A, but you have to do it with an appreciation for how it will
affect (A intersect B), (A intersect C), (A intersect D), (A intersect B intersect C),
(A intersect C intersect D) and (A intersect B intersect C intersect D).
Substitute each members (lurkers, too) name in place of the variables and change intersect to interact, and the equation is the forum itself. Hence, to optimize the forum, one has to have the interaction of the individual members, eh?

We are all parts of the Whole.

------------------
Dusty Rhoads
(Chief Dummy)
 
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Don Winton

#4
It didn't take me long to figure that you would post on this topic.
Yea, I figured that after my last post in Defects and Systems, I should expound on this, but that one was getting a little long, hence the new topic. I wanted to try to visualize what the systems approach to my statements there were trying to make. And, I did not want anyone thinking I was customer bashing. You know, the more I think about this, the more I think it would make a good paper: “Quality and the Art of Venn.” As a matter of fact, I may begin working on that this evening. Whaddya think?

Dusty,

Funny you should mention that. I had thought of that after my original post. I like yours very well indeed.

With the Venn diagram in mind, I invite everyone to re-read The Structure elsewhere in this forum and see if the story makes more (or less)sense. For a good discussion of Venn, try http://www.theory.cs.uvic.ca/~cos/venn/ .

Just the ramblings of an old wizard warrior.

Regards,
Don
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#5
Don,

Write it. I'll read it. I am thinking of how to use this internally here to illustrate a few points. Could be interesting.....

Back to the group...
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#7
Don,

I like it! Straight forward and easily understood. I was thinking (scarey) about something more. I'll put it here for your consideration.

Using the three circle Venn diagram, I think of the three cicles moving along axis in the shape of a "Y". Each circle moves toward the intersection of the three axis. As suboptimization occurs, a circle (let say the red circle for the Organization) moves away from the intersection point (the target). This demonstrates the reduction of the Maximum Optimization Area. It also shows how suboptimization harms a System. Folk reading this should keep in mind that my "Y" axis suggests that there is an equal relationship amongst the three factors, which we know is also in the 'Perfect World'. Also, the three circles are of equal size, indicating each subsystem is of equal importance, which may not be the case. The size of the circle may also change in regard to its position. I know that I am adding a bunch of information here that muddles up the simplicity of you example, but I guess I am just excited to put out a few thoughts on this visual aid as I think it really gets the point across. Thoughts?

By the way, the page is coming along nicely! Anyway, back to the group...
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#8
Don,

Good stuff! You are right not to take this to the deepest depths. You may scare off some folks if you had. I just wanted to throw out some "extras" for the geeks like me who like to complicate things (for myself only). hehehe

Dusty (anyone really), are you still out there? I feel like I am monopolizing the air time here. Time to 'optimize' this thread! Back to the group...
 
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Don Winton

#9
I like it! Straight forward and easily understood.
Yea, for the purposes of the site, I try to stick to the KISS principle as much as possible. I would like to be useful to ‘seasoned’ veterans and those less seasoned. Thanks.

Your ‘Y’ example is about what I had in mind, but mine was more along the X, Y and Z concept behind some multiple regression analysis techniques. I also would want to try to explain, in layman’s terms, the probability theories behind the Venn diagram. For example the difference between mutually exclusive events and events that are not mutually exclusive. That would be somewhat along your thoughts of different circles. When events are mutually exclusive, they could be removed from the interaction reducing the size of the circle. I had wanted to add some statistical concepts to the theory, but that is taking some actual work (Ha! Ha!). But, when I get the theories straight, I will probably save that for more of a ‘presentation’ or ‘technical paper’ format.

Your varied size of circles is also correct. Some contributions are less of an affect than others. Your concept is correct (and very good, also) and the ‘Y’ example with the intersection as the target will work.

Try this. Start with the simple approach and develop it along your concepts. As your model develops, add the variations then (smaller circle, etc). You could even weigh the lines of the ‘Y’ indicating status, i.e. a five point weight for small, 9 point for medium and 13 point for high. For example, if customer wants and needs are greater than community, weigh the lines accordingly. Just a thought.

Regards,
Don
 

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