The Human Constraint and Leadership Thinking

The Human Constraint and Leadership Thinking

By Discovery Lean Six Sigma

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Our lives today are filled with unprecedented levels of rapid change and complexity. Unintended consequences can quickly emerge from inadequate leadership thinking, so we have an urgent need to learn to think in a “joined-up” way. The definition of ‘joined-up thinking” is: 

“thinking about a complicated problem in an intelligent way that includes all the important facts”.

That may seem obvious and yet how many times in business, personal and community life do  events prove that this is not going on? There are certain skills that we need in order to to be proactive members of our communities and corporations. To be able to be proactively contribute to a business, community, and democracy we need to be able to:

  • understand what is being proposed to us;
  • be able to analyze a proposal for weaknesses;
  • be able to extrapolate from a proposal what negative implications there may be;
  • be able to suggest possible remedies to overcome unintended consequences of what may seem like a good idea;
  • be able to build an actionable plan that can be carried out to enact positive change.

Anyone who is paying the slightest attention to what is happening with Brexit and the European Union will recognize what a tragic shortage of these abilities there is, not just among confused voters but also leaders who do not even have a plan to enact a radical change they have been promoting. USA mid-term voters take heed. This is a sorry state of affairs for which a high price will be paid by all concerned, and as interdependencies are the main feature of our complex reality, that means a lot of people.

Better leadership thinking for better lives

I felt so strongly that our lives are artificially limited by our leaders’ and our own inability to think-plan-act adequately that I spent two years writing a digital business novel that has been purchased in 28 countries so far around the world. I wrote ‘The Human Constraint’ under the mentorship of acclaimed US playwright Donald Freed. The story unfolds during the financial crisis that follows 2008 and how this affects a group of people engaged in a transformation process. It charts their attempts through the crisis to transform part of an industry dominated by a zero sum game mentality with an approach based on an ethical and value-based supply chain where all stakeholders benefit.

The story is accompanied along the way with an online Knowledge Base of systemic thinking processes from the Theory of Constraints. This provides additional resources for those readers who want to learn more about a method for “joined-up thinking”. The Thinking Processes from the Theory of Constraints provide a full set of solutions for a change process, from the correct identification of what needs to be changed through to designing practical steps for a robust and negative-implication-free implementation. 

I was recently invited to present these Thinking Processes for change management by the Project Management Institute in a webinar. It must have struck a chord because there were 1,750 people on the live call and, so far, 1,393 people have viewed the recording on

Beyond the comfort zone

We all have gut reactions but we are also blessed with intellect. We can strengthen that intellect through the use of a method that, with practice, become perhaps not second nature but certainly provide an expanded awareness. The solutions for thinking, analyzing and acting better in our complex times do exist. The only limitation is our self-imposed ‘human constraint’, our mental models, our willingness (or refusal) to push ourselves beyond the comfort zone that may keeps us warm until we notice too late that the comforting warmth has become an unbearable heat from which we no longer have the strength or ability to escape. As always, the choice is up to us.

Summer reading for positive change 659w, 504w, 200w, 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 193px) 100vw, 193px">

Our ongoing efforts at Intelligent Management to develop and promote systemic leadership thinking solutions for a more ethical and sustainable future are also funded through the sale of our books. Please do download and read ’The Human Constraint’, share this post and encourage your friends and connections to do so. It is available exclusively from our website and I am offering a summer promotion to make sure as many people as possible can have access. All  those who purchase ‘The Human Constraint’ between August 15 and September 15 will also receive a free PDF of our groundbreaking book ‘Sechel: Logic, Language and Tools to Manage Any Organization as a Network‘ (sells for $14.99).

‘The Human Constraint’ is a good read, but don’t take my word for it! Here are is a sample of reactions:

“I think the book is brilliantly written, much more engaging than the Goldratt books. It sort of captivates one with a sense of wanting to see what’s going to happen next.”

                            GENE BELLINGER, SYSTEMS THINKING WORLD

Bought it yesterday, can’t keep my eyes out of it… Excellent writing about an excellent integration of Deming and Goldratt with excellent resources and tools. Definitely a must-read for every CEO (and all other C’s), every manager and everyone who claims to strive for improvement in any aspect of his/her life! Thank you Angela Montgomery PhD for your inspiring story!!”


The Human Constraint explores the single greatest challenge any leader faces in an organization: creating a unified and systemic response to opportunity. Dr. Montgomery’s book, along with its detailed website materials, shines a light that guides us as leaders and managers toward a more sustainable and productive future.

                                LEE HERRIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FERNWOOD NRG

“I can’t count how many business books I’ve started to read and couldn’t finish – my response being along the lines of “this is just too boring” or “I know all this stuff – doesn’t everybody?” Angela Montgomery has solved this problem with a new way of thinking that goes beyond conventional approaches. She captures today’s complex realities of business in this novel. Read it and enjoy. I know you will learn a lot, and finish it!”


“Relating to my own experience, I constantly saw the transformative forces of Inspired Leadership, Unity of Purpose and Community at Trust at work throughout the entire narrative. Management methods of the previous millennium are insufficient and even inadequate. New ways to attain sustainability through win-win thinking are required. Ultimately, the problem, the real constraint is not that of limited resources in an ever shrinking world, but that of the way we all think and work together. Read it!”


“The Human Constraint is a must read for any entrepreneur or executive looking to hone win-win thinking and build a more effective and sustainable business.”


“In The Human Constraint, Montgomery brilliantly delineates how to transform a large organization from silos, hierarchies and a zero-sum approach (where someone must win and someone must lose) to an organization that is systemic, project-based, win-win, leverages the knowledge and intuition of its employees and is highly profitable. The Human Constraint is a superb literary work.”


Intelligent Management, founded by  Dr. Domenico Lepore, specializes in Whole System Transformation, based on the systemic management principles of W. Edwards Deming and the Theory of Constraints. We are trusted advisors to leaders of organizations through our unique, whole system Network of Projects organization design. Sign up to our blog here. Intelligent Management provides education and training  internationally on systemic management using the Decalogue methodology .

See our new books  The Human Constraint – a business novel that has sold in 28 countries so far and  ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’  from CRC Press, New York, by Dr. Domenico Lepore,  Dr. .Angela Montgomery and Dr. Giovanni Siepe.

The post The Human Constraint and Leadership Thinking appeared first on Intelligent Management.

By: angela montgomery
Posted: August 15, 2018, 4:39 pm

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