Every day we are faced with problems that need solving, both personal and organizational. The more complex the problem the more we need to be sure we have a robust way to analyze what’s wrong so we can generate and effectively implement an appropriate solution. That may sound obvious, but how many decision makers actually go through a structured thought process to reach their decisions? How many decisions are just the result of meetings, conversations, opinions, bias and compromise?
Complex human interaction: needs and wants
Anybody who thinks that logic is sufficient for problem solving doesn’t understand human cognition. (And anyone who thinks a thought process means logic needs to engage with more art.) Human interaction is always complex because we are made up of so many elements. We still don’t fully understand the interplay of synapses, hormones, mind, body and spirit. However, a fundamental contribution to mapping out a process for decision making has been made by Dr. Eli Goldratt. He was able to see that any situation where a decision needs to be made can be framed as two conflicting positions. These positions only exist because they are protecting two fundamental human needs: on the one hand, a need for control (restraint), on the other, a need for vision (growth). When we generate solutions, they must absolutely protect these two needs in order to be complete. Compromise is not necessary when we can elevate our thinking and tackle problems and decisions at a higher level.
Control and vision
Dr. Goldratt was a physicist but he also came from a family of scholars in the Talmud (and he himself was very versed in it). Indeed, when Domenico Lepore, our Founder, also a physicist, asked Goldratt what he could do to understand the Theory of Constraints more deeply, Goldratt’s reply was ‘Study the Talmud.’ Intelligent Management subsequently had the opportunity to study with some of the best scholars in New York to take on the challenge Goldratt had raised. We would say that it is highly likely that when Goldratt derived the two needs of control and vision for his Thinking Process Tools he had in mind the concepts that in Hebrew are ‘Gevurah’ (restraint) and ‘Chesed’ (love, compassion). These two elements are always profoundly present in human thought and interaction and need to be in balance. When we are aware of this we can make our thought processes for decision making and conflict resolution much more effective and satisfying.
Beyond logical problem solving – learning to think
What Goldratt has given us through his Thinking Process Tools is an extremely sophisticated and yet straightforward pattern for thinking systemically. He allows us to always see the big picture, connect the dots and take our reasoning to a higher level where compromise does not have to exist. To describe these tools as ‘logical tools’ as some practitioners do is to miss the point; it reduces the tools from the Theory of Constraints to a technique without understanding the underlying mindset of continuous breakthrough, growth and unity. By emphasizing the needs of control and vision, Goldratt allows us to filter our logic AND emotions through a precise pattern that takes us to robust, fit-for-whole-human solutions. He has also supplied us with the tools to create, monitor and schedule the actions necessary to put robust solutions into practice.
Unless a strategy can be applied effectively to change reality in a desired direction, there is no point in finding a ‘solution’. (We leave that to the consultants that write reports.)
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About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management and author of the business novel+ website The Human Constraint . This downloadable novel uses narrative to look at how the Deming approach and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore, founder, and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York.