A Good Management System is Robust and Continually Improving

imagine various people working within it, somehow swapping out gears and cogs without the clock stopping or slowing down even a little.

This is a fairly good quote on a good management system. Some people might not like the mechanistic model – comparing an organization to a clock, and I agree that isn’t the right model, but even so it is a good quote.

The quote, from a story about the San Antonio Spurs captures what should happen with a good management system. Things just keep running well as inevitable changes take place (and keep getting better in the case of a management system).

A good management system doesn’t rely on heroic efforts to save the day. The organization is designed to success. It is robust. It will succeed with all the variation thrown at it by the outside world. A good management system takes advantage of the contributions people offer, but it is not perform poorly when others are relied on.

A well run organization has graceful degradation (when one component fails or one person is missing the performance doesn’t suffer, bad results are avoided).

With software for example, a decently created web sites may use javascript to enhance the user experience but if javascript is unavailable the site works fine (just missing some neat features that are nice but don’t prevent users from getting what they need). Poorly designed software has critical dependencies on conditions that cannot be guaranteed to be present for end users and the software just fails to work when those conditions are not met. Ungraceful degradation is too common in software. It is also too common in our management systems.

An organization succeeds because of the efforts of many great people. But the management system has to be created for an organization to prosper as what we all know will happen, happens: people will leave and need to be replaced. And the people that stay will need to adjust to new conditions inside the organization and in response to external forces. A good management system is constantly improving performance, innovating, increasing the robustness of systems and increasing the capability of people.

Related: Bad Weather is Part of the Transportation SystemHow to Sustain Long Term Enterprise ExcellencePerformance dependent on specific individuals is not robust and not capable of continuous high quality performanceEuropean Blackout: Human Error-Not

5 thoughts on “A Good Management System is Robust and Continually Improving

  1. Excellent piece. I think it’s important to note how the management system is able to accomplish these things. Very simply, it makes the problems in the organization visible and fosters an environment in which they can be solved. This impetus to solve problems is what allows the organization to improve performance, innovate, create more robust systems, and most important, develop people.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Leadership Development Carnival: June 2014 Edition

  3. Pingback: Let's Grow Leaders | Inspired Leaders, Confident Humility, & Breakthrough Results | Experts Share Advice on Inspiring Breakthrough Results: A Frontline Festival

  4. Pingback: To Achieve Success Focus on Improving the System Not On Individual Performance « The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog

  5. Pingback: Visual Management and Mistake-Proofing for Prescription Pills » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.