Thursday, May 25, 2017

Interactions Among the Four Fields in Deming's System of Profound Knowledge

Question on Reddit:
I would like to see expansion of Deming's SoPK with more examples of interactions in the four fields of knowledge. Are you aware of any?

My response:

I think this is actually very common, but often it isn't explicitly mentioned. To explain this well would take a fair amount of time. Let me just give 2 quick examples

Distorting the System to meet a target

This certainly is about the interaction or understanding variation (in this case people not understanding data well enough and being mislead), psychology (how people respond to pressure to meet goals), theory of knowledge (not understanding the difference between the proxy value of data and the underlying truth) and systems thinking (how a system is likely to react to meet goals - distorting data and distorting the system, and using simple measures where those things work to get numbers).

Create a System That Lets People Take Pride in Their Work

Appreciating that results will be better when people are doing work they are proud of involves at least appreciation
for a system and psychology.

I think in reality nearly every example involves interactions. We can analytically separate out the one we want to discuss or the one that seems most influential in what we are looking at but in reality it isn't just one.
For example, data issues related to over-reacting to common cause variation is in the "understanding variation" realm. But it is also deeply ingrained in our psychology that we look for special causes. If our psychology was different it is very possible the mistake of "seeing" (and believing) special causes everywhere would not be a problem. But because those 2 area interact in the way they do it is an area of improvement for how we think and manage. By focusing on an understanding of variation we can limit the damage caused by are faulty psychology (seeing special causes where they don't exist - where it is just common causes). And that really integrates theory of knowledge and systems thinking (we chronically over-simplfy and ignore the large system).

Related: 94% Belongs to the System - Encourage Improvement Action by Everyone - Circle of Influence

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