Our lives today are filled with unprecedented levels of rapid change and complexity. Unintended consequences can quickly emerge from inadequate leadership thinking, so we must urgently learn to think not just in a “joined-up” way but in a systemic way. This means developing the skills to:
- understand and analyze our current reality, as individuals and organizations;
- be able to surface assumptions that keep us trapped in less than desirable situations;
- be able to generate robust solutions/innovations;
- be able to identify unintended consequences of what may seem like a good idea;
- be able to build an actionable plan that can be carried out and communicated effectively to enact positive change.
The COVID-10 pandemic is making evident every day that there is shortage of these abilities. This is a sorry state of affairs for which we all pay a high price because interdependencies are the main feature of our complex reality, wherever we are in the world.
I felt so strongly that our lives are artificially limited by our leaders’ and our own inability to think-plan-act adequately and in a win-win way that over a period of two years I wrote a digital business novel that has been purchased in 41 countries so far. I wrote ‘The Human Constraint’ under the mentorship of acclaimed US playwright Donald Freed. The story unfolds during the financial crisis that follows 2008 and how this affects a group of people engaged in a transformation process. It charts their attempts through the crisis to transform part of an industry dominated by a zero sum game mentality with an approach based on an ethical and value-based supply chain where all stakeholders benefit.
The story is accompanied along the way with an online Knowledge Base of systemic thinking processes from the Theory of Constraints. This provides additional resources for those readers who want to learn more about a method for joined-up, systemic thinking. The Thinking Processes from the Theory of Constraints provide a full set of solutions for a change process, from the correct identification of what needs to be changed through to designing practical steps for a robust and negative-implication-free implementation. It’s been my privilege over the years to witness and participate in many breakthroughs using these Thinking Processes in so many different scenarios, from family issues through to completely turning around a failing American multinational. When we learn to use our minds systemically, we can create solutions that would not otherwise have seemed possible. We can rise above the limitations that currently keep us stuck.
Transforming reality requires a lot of heavy lifting and the process of change can be rolled out through a network of projects. Once again, a systemic approach is what allows projects to succeed. The Critical Chain method for project management was developed by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt. It is used by major industries including aerospace, pharmaceuticals and military and almost daily there are job ads on LinkedIn requiring knowledge of Critical Chain.
I was invited to talk about this in a dedicated webinar for PMI (Project Management Institute) Leading Change Through Project Management and it must have struck a chord as over 10,000 PMI members have watched it so far and it has received a 4.49 rating out of 5. What a pity and an irony that PMI does not teach Critical Chain to its members.
‘The Human Constraint’ is only available in download format exclusively from www.thehumanconstraint.ca It’s a good read, but don’t take my word for it. Here is a sample of reactions:
“I think the book is brilliantly written, much more engaging than the Goldratt books. It sort of captivates one with a sense of wanting to see what’s going to happen next.”
GENE BELLINGER, SYSTEMS THINKING WORLD
Bought it yesterday, can’t keep my eyes out of it… Excellent writing about an excellent integration of Deming and Goldratt with excellent resources and tools. Definitely a must-read for every CEO (and all other C’s), every manager and everyone who claims to strive for improvement in any aspect of his/her life! Thank you Angela Montgomery PhD for your inspiring story!!”
GIJS ANDREA, CEO AT INTERNATIONAL HOUSE OF TOC
The Human Constraint explores the single greatest challenge any leader faces in an organization: creating a unified and systemic response to opportunity. Dr. Montgomery’s book, along with its detailed website materials, shines a light that guides us as leaders and managers toward a more sustainable and productive future.
LEE HERRIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FERNWOOD NRG
“I can’t count how many business books I’ve started to read and couldn’t finish – my response being along the lines of “this is just too boring” or “I know all this stuff – doesn’t everybody?” Angela Montgomery has solved this problem with a new way of thinking that goes beyond conventional approaches. She captures today’s complex realities of business in this novel. Read it and enjoy. I know you will learn a lot, and finish it!”
DAVID STRONG, PHD, DSC, LLD, FRSC PRESIDENT EMERITUS, UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA CHAIRMAN AND CEO, STRONG EDUCATION LTD.
“Relating to my own experience, I constantly saw the transformative forces of Inspired Leadership, Unity of Purpose and Community at Trust at work throughout the entire narrative. Management methods of the previous millennium are insufficient and even inadequate. New ways to attain sustainability through win-win thinking are required. Ultimately, the problem, the real constraint is not that of limited resources in an ever shrinking world, but that of the way we all think and work together. Read it!”
STEVE TENDON, MANAGING DIRECTOR, TAMEFLOW CONSULTING