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Six Sigma and more: David Schwinn
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Several months ago, my wife, Carole, and I volunteered to facilitate a study of “Essential Practices in Global Organizational Development” for the Organizational Development Network and the International Organizational Development Association. Shortly thereafter, I was granted a sabbatical to “reconceptualize the disciplines of management and leadership.” Since I believe that Six Sigma is one of many approaches included within the family of organizational development (OD) practices and, furthermore, that organizational development is one of the important functions of management and leadership, I thought this month would be a great time to ask for your help on these two studies.

As part of both studies, I want to interview leaders and other stakeholders involved in the very best practices of organizational development, management, and leadership across all sectors and communities and across the various parts of the world. While I agree with many that the practice of each of those disciplines is situational, I also believe there may be some common ground among those disciplines as practices across sectors and communities and in various parts of the world. I want to understand both the situational elements of those practices and the nature of those practices that seem to be common across sectors and communities and parts of the world.

I intend to do my best to make the study as unbiased as possible. To that end, I am about to explain to you who and what has most influenced my biases regarding those three disciplines and what, I believe, most of those biases are. The people and experiences that most influenced my biases are:

  • My experience at Ford in the late 70s when we developed Ford’s version of Employee Involvement/ Participative Management as a way to improve our quality;
  • Carole’s and my learning and friendship with W. Edwards Deming in our work first at Ford and then, through the community college system with all kinds of organizations and communities;
  • Our learning from and working with Peter Senge around systems thinking and, more importantly, the concept of perception;
  • Our learning from and partnership with Jamshid Gharajedaghi around systems thinking, innovation, and design;
  • Our work with Peter Block and Peter Koestenbaum around their understanding and modeling of freedom, accountability, and integrity;
  • Our work and deep friendships with Margaret Wheatley and Christina Baldwin that reinforced the value of deep conversation, dialogue, and circle;
  • Our experiences being managed and led and being managers, leaders, and OD facilitators ourselves.

From those influences and others, I believe exemplary management, leadership, and OD practitioners and systems:

  • Listen carefully;
  • Are honest;
  • Seek to understand and honor everyone’s truth;
  • Think and act systemically;
  • Are kind;
  • Clearly articulate visions and goals that are life affirming and worthy of the humanity of those pursuing them;
  • Embrace the concept of continual improvement;
  • Encourage innovation;
  • Set goals participatively and with analytic statistical knowledge;
  • Provide adequate resources to the people doing the work;
  • Model the behavior they desire;
  • Encourage everyone to seize their freedom and be accountable for the results;
  • Seek to learn from the results of actions taken;
  • Provide constructive feedback;
  • Recognize and celebrate accomplishments and people.

As I stated before, my intent is to ignore these biases as much as possible as I do these two studies. It is my hope that by stating them, I can more consciously ignore them.

My request from you is to help me by doing two things:

  • Send me the names of people, organizations, and communities that you believe exemplify the very best practices of management, leadership, and OD around the world and across all sectors. I am particularly interested in knowing about those practices being exercised overseas.
  • Suggest to me how I might best contact those people, organizations, and communities knowing that contacts are best made through personal networks.

I will most sincerely appreciate your help with these two projects. You understand these three disciplines from a perspective that is different from mine and that perspective will be invaluable to the studies. I’m at support@pqsystems.com.

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