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Deming's SoPK (System of Profound Knowledge) Challenge

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SoPK challenge

Attached is a front page design for a possible visual map of the SoPK.
I am interested in knowing if any at the cove would be interested in contributing to this visual map. I believe access to this type of information would be beneficial to all at the cove when debating :rolleyes: This great subject. It could be a standardized cove interpretation of the Sopk and would assist all at the cove who may wish to have a distinct Cove interpretation.
I know Kevin Mader may be interetsed in contributing to this visual map, am I right Kevin???
Feedback from all at the Cove would be appreciated.



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Sopk Visual map

I envisage the Sopk Visual map to be an overview that can be used for discussion and debate purposes at the Cove.
I understand completely that the so-called Sopk map will change according to our understanding yet, I believe that we should have consensus (When possible) regarding the information as an overview that will be added to the Visual map. I discussed this with Kevin Mader via telephone on Monday regarding this issue.
The reason for creating a Sopk map?
I have come across way too many folk who are genuinely interested in the theories and facts behind a SoPK and have expressed an interest in having a mapped reference of this fascinating area.

Randy Stewart

I'd be very interested in the map and more than willing to help anyway I can. Good idea Wallace.


Quite Involved in Discussions
SoPK visual map

Here's a start to the map.
Make your contributions to the specific branch of the map. The principle of Mind mapping asks you to compile information in as few words as possible, using key and associated words that will speak to the reader and allow an overview to become the big picture.
You can either send them to the Cove thread or send them to my private mail [email protected] I'll be adding to the map and posting it as a zipped jpeg file occasionaly.
The program I am using to compile the map is called Mind genius, I also use another excellent program called Visual Mind


Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Trick Question!!

Sorry that I didn't catch your initial post on this, Wallace, but the call got my mind stirring a bit on your challenge.

I guess that the first contribution that I'd like to make centers about our phone conversation as to what, if any, is the most important tenet to the SoPK. As I mentioned, Dr. Deming saw them all equally important. But as Peter Senge asserts, System's Thinking is the glue that holds it all together.

Something both Deming and Senge state repeatedly is/was the concept of time. Deming always had his eye on the future, thus stating that when determining the AIM of the system, one must consider that the AIM has to be in the context of the Future. Senge expands the view, thus giving us several examples of how time changes the manner in which we view and learn things. Nonetheless, time/future plays a factor in determining how we choose to define Appreciation of a System.

This is easier said than done.

Some years back, I was involved in a discussion with Del Nelson and David Kerridge when I was trying to create a visual representation of a system. I elected to use a Venn Diagram to illustrate the system components each with their individual AIMS and the central AIM of the system. What I wasn't able to illustrate was the AIM through time. I stumped the professors on this one. So, that said, here is the challenge reintroduced through Wallace's challenge. I think that this is an extremely important factor to consider. It is also considerably important for us to figure out because the exclusion of this will truncate the model.

Back to the group....

Kevin :bigwave:

Mike S.

An Early 'Cover'
Maybe what you guys propose will help people to know and understand Deming's SOPK. Webster defines profound as 1a: having intellectual depth and insight 1b: difficult to fathom or understand

I think the second definition must be as valid as the first in this context, because while I have read Deming I don't recall his SOPK points, nor do I know anyone who does, and I didn't recall it as being earth-shattering. Maybe that is mostly due to my intellectual limitations, but I believe no matter how great the idea, if you can't make the masses understand it and see its usefulness it will never be nearly as helpful as it could be. IMO either Deming's SOPK isn't nearly as great as its proponents say it is or else it was never made understandable to enough people to catch on.


Quite Involved in Discussions

Mike S,
I agree with your concern that, whatever a SoPK is supposed to convey to the reader, it should be clear and unambiguous knowledge transfer allowing the reader to view the big picture regarding systems. I firmly believe that a SoPK should not be limited to being used within business alone.

I have added the following side bar to the proposed map, what do you think?

"It should be recognized that, A system of profound knowledge by nature continuously evolves in relation to knowledge development of the four parts of a SoPK"



Mike S. said:
IMO either Deming's SOPK isn't nearly as great as its proponents say it is or else it was never made understandable to enough people to catch on.
You are right, Mike S.

By the test of "is it of practical value outside of the Deming 'bible study' groups?" the SoPK fails.

No [Western] manager understands all that stuff. It is either wonderful theory yet to be demonstrated as useful. Or it is hokum. One thing is clear: it is technique not [yet?] technology. Phlogiston not air. IMO also.

NYHawkeye - 2005

Kevin Mader said:
Something both Deming and Senge state repeatedly is/was the concept of time. Deming always had his eye on the future, thus stating that when determining the AIM of the system, one must consider that the AIM has to be in the context of the Future
I think I have posted this on a thread sometime in the past but Kevin's comments on the concept of time triggered me to think about Ackoff's views on learning.

He distinguishes between data, information, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom as follows:

DATA - consists of symbols that represent objects, events, and their properties. Data is the product of observation.

INFORMATION - is contained in descriptions, in answers to questions that begin with such words as WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and HOW MANY. Information is usable in deciding what to do, not how to do it.

KNOWLEDGE - is contained in instructions. Knowledge consists of know-how, for example, knowing how a system works or how to make it work in a desired way, and it makes maintenance and control of objects, systems, and events possible.

UNDERSTANDING - is contained in explanations, answers to WHY questions. We do not learn how to do something by doing it correctly because we already know how to do it. We gain understanding by doing things through trial and error and making mistakes.

WISDOM - the ability to perceive and evaluate the long-run consequences of behavior.​

So...I agree with what Kevin has stated - TIME is a critical element to be considered when looking at the SoPK.

Ackoff seems to use the term wisdom to represent what Deming may have called profound knowledge.

Wisdom (profound knowledge) allows you to project information, knowledge, and understanding of a system into the future.
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