A leader’s frame of reference includes the ability to perceive and incorporate new information, relationships, and possibilities. (1)
W. Edwards Deming identified four components that are common to any successful change initiative that he referred to as a System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK). The SoPK is the foundation of a Quality Leaders frame of reference.
Anyone or any group that has made a positive change (at any time in history) has applied the SoPK using different terms. Helping people transition to a Deming based framework is the “What’s new?” that would support transformation to the world that works for almost everyone.
The SoPK: Common sense that is not so common – yet.
PSYCHOLOGY. People are motivated to take action to achieve a need and want. Actions are influenced by facts, perceptions, and expectations that are shaped by a respective culture. The two types of motivation are extrinsic and intrinsic.
SYSTEMS. An action is accomplished through a process in the context of a system.
Commuting to work through the use of a car is accomplished through a process that is only possible because of an existing transportation system. The “system” can include millions of people and trillions of dollars of investment in infrastructure. The system determines the majority of the result.
KNOWLEDGE. Individual action is guided by a stated or implied theory. Knowledge is acquired through actions guided by the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle, which Deming referred to as the Shewhart Cycle for Learning and Development.
IF I continue to do this, e.g., follow your commuting process, THEN I predict that I will usually get the expected results. IF you want to reduce the cost, time, and the environmental impact of your commute, THEN you need to make a change which implies a prediction that change will result in the expected improvement.
“There is no substitute for knowledge. There is no knowledge without prediction and theory. “ — WED
VARIATION. Feedback. Objective and subjective information is always used to assess results. Walter Shewhart developed the new paradigm for managing the variation in feedback.
“Little v” (variation) is using a trend/Shewhart chart along with interpretation standards to help determine if change resulted in improvement. Test your knowledge.
“Big V ” (variation) is taking action that results in a situation where everyone wins or at least, are not any worse off. This is a common aim identified in many religious and philosophical doctrines.
Humanity is affected by systems that are created by humans. In working to reduce variation from the ideal, it might help if WE all shared a common language for determining if and when changes result in improvement. In his book “When Jesus Came to Harvard, Making Moral Choices Today”, Harvey Cox made the following observation regarding moral choices:
“…. there has been an emerging convergence of the two ways of thinking that includes the consequences of action and inaction. We can now do great evil without intending to. What we need today is more awareness, a wider recognition of how vast systems we are caught up in can do terrible things and how we can contribute to evil without even being conscious of it.”
Deming reinforced that transformation to the better methods was everyone’s job. He further offered the definition of transformation as meaning a “change of form, shape or appearance.” He thought the term metanoia may be more suitable and defined it as “penitence, repentance, reorientation of one’s way of life, spiritual conversion.”
Additional Information: Frame of Reference.
(1) Strategic Leadership Primer, 3rd Edition, Department of Command, Leadership, and Management, United States Army War College, pgs 23, 28.
(2) National Defense University, Strategic Leadership and Decision Making Part Two, The Strategic Leader as an Individual, Chapter 7, Developing Strategic Leaders.