8 February 2012

Systems thinking or People over Process

A topic I still haven't reconciled in my study of management theory is whether systems are 95% of the success or failure of a process (Deming) or whether it's People over Process (Agile Manifesto.)

Of course it's neither, and that both systems and people matter, but I haven't squared away the dichotomy into an easily managed aphorism yet.

Perhaps "systems that enable people" are they key. Or perhaps it's "systems that facilitate collaboration."

There is no doubting that systems play an important part in getting things done. But in what ways to systems and people interaction find the optimal balance. And what is the model illustrating the point?


  1. Anonymous11:28 am

    like many things in the live of a PM... it is all about creating an echosystem

  2. How about 'people who appreciate systems'?

    Verb: Recognize the full worth of ; Be grateful for (something).

    These types of people can look at a system and understand it for what it is. They will take ownership and will work together to enhance it.
    Without appreciation for systems, people don't follow processes and don't take ownership. They fight the systems around them either overtly or with apathy - I'm not sure which is worse!! (probably the latter).

    This makes me think of the E-Myth, and it's advice on hiring people and 'the game'. If you are interested, read through point #16 on Page 9 of this PDF: http://tinyurl.com/bavx5j

    Talking about 'the game' makes me think of the HBO TV series 'The Wire'. Talk about people appreciating systems! That show does an amazing job of illustrating all the interweaving systems through from the criminal underworld, through the police force and to the government offices. Each character has tensions with the systems around him, and those who play 'the game' best prevail at the end of the day.