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The System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK) Cheat Sheet by

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The System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK)

The SoPK is an effective theory of management that provides a framework of thought and action for any leader wishing to transform and create a thriving organi­zation. By approp­riately applying the principles and practices of SoPK, a business can reduce costs through reducing waste, rework, staff attrition and litiga­tion, while increasing quality, customer loyalty, worker satisf­action and, profit­ability (ultim­ately).

1. Apprec­iation of a System:

Dr. Deming viewed an organi­zation as a system. He defined a system as a network of interd­epe­ndent components that work together to try to accomplish the aim of the system. The aim for any system should be that everybody gains, not one part of the system at the expense of any other. In a business context this includes shareh­olders, customers, suppliers, employees, the community and the enviro­nment.

Taking a systems approach enables management to view its organi­zation in terms of many internal and external interr­elated connec­tions and intera­ctions, as opposed to discrete and indepe­ndent depart­ments or processes governed by various chains of command. When all the connec­tions and intera­ctions are working together to accomplish a shared aim, a business can achieve tremendous result­s—from improving the quality of its products and services, to raising the entire esprit de corps of a company.

2. Knowldge of Variation

In any business, there are always variat­ions, between people, in output, in service and in product. There are two types of variations within a system— common cause and special cause.
Common cause variat­ions are problems built right into the system, such as defects, errors, mistakes, waste and rework. In a stable system, common cause variation will be predic­table within certain limits.
Special cause variat­ions are unique outside events such as a natural disaster, or an unexpected strike by public transp­ort­ation workers.

“Why did something go wrong?” “Why are results so poor?” “How can we repeat this success?” The job of management is to not only ask these and other important perfor­man­ce-­related questions, but also to find the right answers and take the right course of action, through knowledge of variation.

Distin­gui­shing the difference between variation, unders­tanding its causes and predicting behavior, is key to manage­ment’s ability to properly remove problems or barriers in the system. Without knowledge of variation, management might with the best intention take action(s) that makes things worse. Through knowledge of variation, management can realize that attrib­uting a problem to an indivi­dua­l(s), instead of the system, is misguided and mislea­ding.

3. Theory of Knowledge

To help management contin­ually gain more and better knowledge, partic­ularly about its processes and products, Dr. Deming championed the Plan-D­o-S­tud­y-Act (PDSA) cycle, which was first introduced to him by Walter Shewhart. Also known as the Deming Wheel or Deming Cycle, PDSA is a systematic and dynamic process covering theory and applic­ation that yields valuable knowledge, not simply data or inform­ation. It is a means for achieving a never-­ending cycle of valuable learning for the continual improv­ement of a process or product.

4. Psychology

People are different and Management needs to be aware of the differ­ences to optimize the use of everyone’s abilities and talents. People are primarily motivated by intrinsic needs, including taking pride in workma­nship and working with others to achieve common goals, in contrast to simply being motivated by monetary reward, which is a shorts­ighted external form of motiva­tion.

Management must foster an enviro­nment of trust, interd­epe­ndence, relati­onships and pride of workma­nship.

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