Quotes in problem solving
The systems approach to problems focuses on systems taken as a whole, not on their parts taken separately. Such an approach is concerned with total-system performance even when a change in only one or a few of its parts is contemplated because there are some properties of systems that can only be treated adequately from a holistic point of view. These properties derive from the relationship between parts of systems: how the parts interact and fit together
We have also come to realize that no problem ever exists in complete isolation. Every problem interacts with every other problem and is therefore part of a set of interrelated problems, a system of problems. Furthermore, solutions to most problems produce other problems; for example, buying a car may solve a transportation problem but it may also create a need for a garage, a financial problem, a maintenance problem, and conflict among family members for its use.
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. Problems are extracted from messes by analysis. Managers do not solve problems, they manage messes.
I should estimate that in my experience most troubles and most possibilities for improvement add up to the proportions something like this:
94% belongs to the system (responsibility of management)
A common disease that afflicts management and government administration the world over is the impression that “Our problems are different.” They are different, to be sure, but the principles that will help to improve quality of product and of service are universal in nature.
Making it harder to make mistakes and making mistakes that are made more visible is good. Preventing them is even better.
Every time you write code or introduce third-party services, you are introducing the possibility of failure into your system.
The supposition is prevalent the world over that there would be no problems in production or service if only our production workers would do their jobs in the way that they were taught. Pleasant dreams. The workers are handicapped by the system, and the system belongs to the management.
A good question for anybody in business to ask is What business are we in? To do well what we are doing-i.e., to turn out a good product, or good service, whatever it be? Yes, of course, but this is not enough. We must keep asking - What product or service would help our customers more? We must think about the future. What will we be making 5 years from now? 10 years from now?