A crystal ball would be nice to be able to see the future.  I don’t have one.  Not sure that I would want one anyway, seems kind of boring.  There is excitement in not knowing. 

John Chambers from Cisco said command and control management will be dead in 5 -10 years. I have to agree with him.  The command and control world has dominated thinking for 100 years.  Scientific management theory was proved outdated by the likes of Deming and John Seddon. Systems thinking will prevail.  So what are the characteristics of a systems thinking organization?

  • Organizations will learn to optimize their systems or fail against those that do. The functional separation of work has created sub-optimization and waste beyond tolerance levels of customers.


  • Decision making will be put back with the work instead of separated from it as AP Sloan did at GM in the 1930s. The worker will become important again because they have the best knowledge to innovate and improve the work.


  • Organizations will serve the greater good rather than maximizing profits for themselves. Customers, vendors and even competitors will work to make the customer experience better. Contracts will take a back seat to doing what matters for customers. Cooperative attitudes will prevail as competition takes a back seat to making the pie bigger by expanding opportunities.


  • Intrinsic motivation will rule over extrinsic motivation. Targets and incentives will become extinct as organizations understand they bring waste. Without the functional separation of work there becomes only one objective . . . to serve the customer.  Organizations lose the need to optimize each function as it sub-optimizes the whole increasing costs and degrading service. 



  • Technology will be pulled to enhance the work and not pushed as a solution as organizations find the return on technology is only as great as its need for it. Technology companies will understand that just selling technology is only good if it helps the customer and keeps them in business, not if they hit their monthly target or quarterly dividend and kill the patient.

Most of these items have been described and played out by the likes of Deming, Ohno, Seddon, Herzburg and McGregor.  My interpretation of them and what the future may hold.  The organizations that don’t understand these at a minimum risk losing business or their organization.

Tripp Babbitt is a speaker, blogger and consultant to service industry (private and public).  His organization helps executives find a better way to make the work work.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about our intervention services at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.