The change matrix contains a richness that is still unrecognised. The two diagonals; one upwards from the current negative to the future positive and one back downwards from the future negative to the current positive have a special importance. They both represent positive intent. However both also highlight a negative impact. There are two negative impacts; one from the future positive to the future negative and one from the current positives to the current negative. The intent-impact matrix works through complementary opposition, these 4 relationships within the 4 quadrants succinctly account for a very significant amount of the interaction possible within an improvement initiative. The upwards diagonal represents the "suggestion” or a solution which is an improvement upon the current situation. The downwards diagonal represents the "reaction” or the problem and which accounts for the current situation. Most times the upwards diagonal, the suggestion, also represents "satisfaction,” while the downwards diagonal represents "security.” These two arrows are of different logical levels. This is of critical importance. It allows us to map other familiar pairs of differing logical level such as short-term/long-term, parts/whole, local/global and so forth.
A single matrix with one pair of diagonals of different logical levels accounts for the philosopher’s position of a didactic. We most commonly experience this when we seek to teach a solution to someone else. Usually there is both a suggestion and a reaction to the suggestion. The suggestion is about the higher logical level of satisfaction, the reaction is about lower logical level of security. We would use a systemic cloud in the same position. If there is advocating from both sides, such as peer to peer, then the situation becomes dialectic and is represented by two matrices, dual matrices if you like, both of which each contain a suggestion and a reaction. We would use a conflict could in the same position but rarely, if ever, do we explicitly use a pair of conflict clouds that the situation calls for.
Many "conflicts” that people experience start at the philosopher’s position of a dilemma. This is accomplished by a "folding” of the two matrices of a dual matrix conflict over one another to produce a new combined matrix with two diagonals of the same logical level. This is the device that we would use for delving into opposites or into alternate choices. It is common in technical discussions and discussions about best-practice. It is also possible using the same logic to "unfold” a pre-existing dilemma into the two underlying dual matrices. These simple graphical manipulations have never been shown before.
The final stage in this conflict resolution series is obtained by transcending the current condition. This can be achieved graphically by rotating the two complementary diagonal arrows in the combined matrix conflict causing us to resolve apparently diametrically different aspects.
This is a simple, graphical, and immensely powerful meta-method that can be applied to Theory of Constraints and a host of other approaches that are part of the science of improvement and of change management.
Theory of Constraints thinking process and logistical solutions are particularly strong in the technical aspects of the suggestion for change – that is the current reality tree of the present negative and the future reality tree of the future positive. It also covers parts of the future negative in terms of reservations and obstacles but does not address the present positive at all.
Kegan and Laskow Lahey’s Immunity to Change is complementary to Theory of Constraints. It is particularly strong in the quadrant of the present positive addressing 3 levels within it; the things that we do or don’t do, our hidden commitments, and our underlying "big” assumptions. They also examine the future negative where they recognises the validity of our "fears” that arise from threats to our hidden commitments. They address a much simpler future positive, and essentially do not address the current negatives at all. Immunity to Change forces us to examine our sense of identity and our own "big” assumptions about the world in which we live and in which we work.
Together these two approaches when combined within the meta-method of a single matrix conflict encapsulate all aspects of change required for sustainable improvement. Other complementary approaches such as Jerry Harvey’s recognition of negative fantasy and the need for personal connection build out and enrich from this foundation. We can see similar approaches in Peter Block’s what matters and what counts, and Ralph Stacey’s instrumental rationality and reflexive inquiry. Sustainable improvement requires recognising adaptive challenges and not mistaking them for technical challenges.
We can use some classical Theory of Constraint dilemmas or combined matrix conflicts such as Eli Goldratts big batch/small batch from The Goal, or Alex Knight’s hire more/fire more from Pride and Joy to show how we can dissect these backwards to better understand the underlying assumptions. We can also examine how to move forward and graphically transcend these dilemmas into their win-win solutions.
The intent-impact matrix is a meta-model that allows us to address the key elements of the logistics, the logic, and the psychologic of sustainable improvement.
Summary diagram of the pathways and sequence for solving conflicts
Kelvyn Youngman is a scientist who develop a deep interest
in systemic business improvement. He is
an implementer and advocate of Theory of Constraints, being one of the first to
introduce it to large-scale sites in Japanese manufacturing and also tertiary hospital
healthcare in New Zealand. His website,
A Guide to Implementing Theory of Constraints, contains more than 800 pages of description
and numerous diagrams, it has been used world-wide for over a decade by many
people both as their first introduction, and later, as their detailed guide to
TOC. Developments since 2012 have
revolved around the intent-impact matrix and this has matured over the last
year into a 275 page manuscript on graphical conflict resolution, illustrated
with over a 170 different matrices.