Inherent Simplicity

On Twitter @alshall stimulated an interesting conversation about Inherent Simplicity here:

It prompted me to write down the following:

Inherent Simplicity (IS) is used to deduce the Constraint. But if you want to apply IS, you have to start from the Constraint.


Because the founding force of IS relates to the degrees of freedom that a system has. The less the degrees of freedom, the more IS is applicable.

And the Constraint is the element of the system that mostly limits its degrees of freedom.

Why is this important?

Because of leverage.

Acting on the Constraint has the greatest systems effect; in virtue of the fewer degrees of freedom.

That’s why if you want to apply IS, then thinking and action need necessarily to be centered around the Constraint.

There is a difference between logically deducing IS in theory, and practically applying it in reality.

IS application needs focus on Constraint. Otherwise impact will be limited; and you’d need to do more work to get the same effect.

That’s the idea and power of IS: the economy of action!

That is the simplicity: you do one little thing on the Constraint and you get greater effects. The opposite is to improve everything, everywhere, all the time, and get nowhere while piling up layers of Operational Costs for nothing.

You cannot apply the idea of IS without centering it around the constraint.

Of course, first you need Step 1: Identify the Constraint. In knowledge-work, that is elusive, as you know.

And it is THE problem that #tameflow resolves.

TameFlow does to knowledge-work what TOC has done to manufacturing, sales, marketing, project management, supply chain management, etc.

TameFlow is the only approach that will let you perform Step 1 in knowledge-work.

What do you think about this?

Hi Steve,

You definitely got a nice sales pitch there :wink:

Joking apart, I understand the application of Inherent Simplicity in the terms you’ve defined it. Given that we have indeed identified the Constraint, then we have the focal point we need to aim our improvement actions towards to. No need to mess around and waste time on initiatives elsewhere. That, I get.

However, I intellectually struggle with the latter statement about #TameFlow. As much as I like its ideas, and as far as Step 1 is strictly concerned, it seems to me that purely from a Systems Thinking point of view organizational constraints can’t be that simple.
My mental model for an organization (or a system for that matter) is that of a racing car (anyone is free to laugh at this :smiley: ), where you can still make improvements in different parts and gain performance. Sure enough there are parts where there’s a better cost/benefit ratio than others, it could well be the case that aerodynamics are the constraint, but you won’t stop Engine R&D because of that. The aerodynamics may remain the focus, but progress have to be maintained in other areas too.

Just sharing my thoughts on this, not sure if I’m making sense. I’d love to experience TameFlow in practice to really see what’s capable of.

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The “organizations as machines” is not a good metaphor. A car is a very simple machine compared to an organization of humans that is operating in a market ecology.

TOC / TameFlow is really powerful because it allows you to zoom onto what matters.

Can you give an example of that, @DanielDoiron?

Please educate us more.

You are exposing many things that can be done when applying the 5FS… EXPLOIT, SUBORDINATE, ELEVATE… and then you state that…

Now, this statement is a contradiction by itself: If you create more dependencies then your degrees of freedom become lower, not higher!

And you did not reply to the question, which asked you to give an example.

So, can you please provide a real example of what you are stating?

You know: in TameFlow we are never content with just statements - I would like you to substantiate the claims with some concrete example or solid references. [And “because Daniel said so…” is neither an example nor a solid reference… ]

Then, please, resolve the contradiction: how do you increase complexity/dependencies and observe an increase in degrees of freedom?