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Manager as Work System Designer: 13 Essential Questions


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Esther Derby's Agile 2010 talk.

Its 60 years since Deming said that the biggest problem with many companies is management that is off course. Despite recent interest in applying Lean concepts to software, not enough has changed. Why? We think of managers making decisions, setting priorities, organizing work, keeping budgets, hiring, and mentoring people. What we’ve overlooked is a manager’s role as designer. Managers are designers of the experience of work and of systems to produce valuable products. As designers, we need to ask and answer questions that will help us create those experiences and systems.

About Esther Derby

I consult with you to help you develop a holistic view of your organization and take action to achieve optimum success. I coach you to boost your effectiveness and confidence as a manager, and I deliver workshops that bring insights to life, build skills, and engage your people in learning. 

If you have questions about my services, contact me to schedule a free initial conversation. I'd be delighted to share my thoughts with you and learn about your company. 

Phone:  +1 612.239.1214 


Visit my website to learn more about what I do, browse my blog and sign up for my free email newsletter.

Published in: Business

Manager as Work System Designer: 13 Essential Questions

  1. Manager as Work System Designer: 13 14 Essential Questions <ul><li>esther derby </li></ul><ul><li>@estherderby </li></ul><ul><li>esther derby associates, inc. </li></ul>
  2. “ The biggest problem that most any company in the Western world faces is not its competitors, nor the Japanese. The biggest problems are self-inflicted, created right at home by management that are off course.” W. Edwards Deming
  3. P = f(p,e)
  4. How does the work really work?
  7. What information & tools to people need to do their work?
  8. How can we build feedback into the work?
  9. How do we know when a chunk of work is done?
  10. What is the capacity of the team?
  11. How long does it take us to know if we are off track?
  12. What won’t we work on now?
  13. How do structures affect people’s ability to accomplish their work?
  15. What message does our reward system send?
  16. What message do our policies and procedures send?
  17. What happens when people bring unwelcome news?
  18. How do my actions affect people and work?
  19. What do I know that ain’t so ?
  20. What do I know at home that I forget at work ?
  21. You can read more about state of the art management at . If you would like me to stay in touch with you (~monthly articles & announcements), give me your business card. @estherderby