System Flow vs. Top Down

Read Article as PDF

The traditional/old theory of an organization: TOP-DOWN “Command/Control
  • It doesn’t describe or portray the organization as a flow of integrated processes within one overall system
  • It doesn’t portray the interdependence of the various functional/process areas within the overall organization system
  • It over-emphasizes individual accountability rather than the group, the process, or the output of the group or system and, almost unbelievably:
  • There’s NO reference to products, services or CUSTOMERS in this Top-Down, Command Control view.

The obvious, essential aim of the organization implied in the above chart is CONTROL: All paths lead to/from the top.

The new, more optimal Deming theory of an organization:  The SYSTEM FLOW

• The interdependency of organizational processes

• The essential primacy of THE CUSTOMER (consumer)

• The impact of customer feedback (consumer research)

• Continuous improvement based on customer feedback

• The importance of suppliers and vendors

• The integrated network of internal supplier/customer relationships.

The vital difference between these two concepts is not just theoretical and is far beyond a mere difference in diagrams. The systems flow diagram symbolizes a whole new way of thinking and operating—a new theory—which results in an entirely different focus and set of priorities. It is also the foundation for effective continuous improvement and Six Sigma.

Ask anyone in your organization this simple question: “In your work, who is it important for you to please?”

If he/she answers “My Boss,” that person still works in an environment dominated (literally) by the old control view. He/she experiences the organization as a chain of command, likely with covert and/or overt fear and extrinsic rewards as prime “motivators.” However, if their answer is: “The people in the next step of the process, my internal customer and our external customers,” that indicates a Systems Perspective—the new, more optimal operating concept of an organization, first introduced into the business world over five decades ago by American quality pioneer Dr. W. Edwards Deming.

Also see The PASS Cycle (Plan – Act – Study – Select).

Read Article as PDF

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *