In the world of quality, Six Sigma is one of the biggest names. Total Quality Management (TQM) may aim for zero defects. But Six Sigma aims to reduce defects down to a statistical blip – arguably a more realistic enterprise.
What makes Six Sigma such a compelling proposition is the vast asset base of tools and process that accompany the core idea. What makes it a big idea is the impact it has had on manufacturing, combined with its wider potential in other domains.
The OODA Loop is is an idea that arose within the US military in the 1960s. It was developed by Colonel John Boyd. But the principles are broader than military theory, and managers can get a lot from them.
When I first learned about the OODA Loop, there was very little available to read about it. A few highly technical papers by military strategists, and copies of Boyd’s original seminar notes.
Now, there is a lot more available on the web. But almost all of it still focuses on the military applications. I want to see what the OODA Loop offers us more widely.
The distinction between urgent and important is an essential one. It’s a staple of time management, and rightly so.
It was first popularised by President Dwight D Eisenhower, but has been picked up by generations of productivity advisors. When you understand what is important, and distinguish those things from others that are merely urgent, you gain real control of how you use your time.
So, urgent and important – or more properly, the distinction between them – is truly a big idea.
There have always been lots of models for how to buy stuff. Buy it outright, lease it to spread the cost and then look after it, or lease it and let the owner keep it maintained. Now software is as important to running our world as buildings and tractors, we are seeing the same sort of options arise. And hence the emergence of SaaS: Software as a Service
So what is it, why is it popular, and what concerns should you address, before taking on a SaaS contract?
Systems thinking is a big idea that’s remarkably… simple.
It’s a simple idea about complex phenomena. And the principle virtue of systems thinking is that it reminds us that the real world is far from simple.
Indeed, when we try to apply simple solutions to complex problems, the solution tends to fail: often spectacularly. And it’s systems thinking that points us in the right direction. We need to think about the whole messy, complex, inter-connected system, if we are to have any chance of finding a solution that makes our problem better.
When I was an active Project Leader, I practised Management by Walking Around, long before I knew it was a thing. Then, when I learned about it, I was fascinated to learn that, if this idea has any formal origin, it was in a company I much admired.
But can something millions of people have done over many centuries by instinct, truly be a Big Idea?
Well, maybe I could argue that such a powerfully intuitive approach cannot be anything but a Big Idea.
So let’s dissect the idea of Management by Walking Around.
There are few models that are as beloved of management trainers as Robert Dilts’ Logical Levels of Awareness.
It is popular among those who have learned it as part of formal NLP training, through reading books, or by osmosis. The logical levels model is pervasive and hard to miss if you are alert to these things.
So, in this article, I want to explain what it is, how it came about, and why it is a big idea that merits your attention as a manager.
For hundreds of years, there has been little to challenge traditional hierarchies for their ability to organise at scale. Holacracy is doing just that.
It’s a form of Adhocracy, which we covered in an earlier article. But, whilst we are way past ‘peak adhocracy’, it seems that holacracy is is thriving.
Holacracy is a modern attempt to reform traditional hierarchies. It keeps the aspect of senior level overviews and subordinate focus. But it gives a far greater autonomy to individuals, and a more substantial decision authority to small teams at the focus of operations and change.
Total Quality Management, or TQM, is more than ‘just’ a quality initiative. It is an approach to management that cuts across all aspects of an organisation. It has a deep story that stretches back to the 1920s and beyond, yet its principles are as relevant today as they have ever been.
While some of our Big Ideas came to the world of management and made themselves relevant there, Total Quality Management started in the business world. And here it remains.