Drucker on The Whole vs. The Part
One of the key concepts of any Lean system is making the system work. Not the individual pieces or machines, but the entire enterprise. We've known that for years.
Thus, I was thrilled to read Peter Drucker's view on this subject a few days ago.
There is one fundamental insight underlying all management science. It is that the business enterprise is a system of the highest order: a system whose parts are human beings contributing voluntarily of their knowledge, skill, and dedication to a joint venture. And one thing characterizes all genuine systems, whether they be mechanical like the control of a missile, biological like a tree, or social like the business enterprise: it is interdependence. The whole of a system is not necessarily improved if one particular function or part is improved or made more efficient. In fact, the system may well be damaged thereby, or even destroyed. In some cases the best way to strengthen the system may be to weaken a part-to make it less precise or less efficient. For what matters in any system is the performance of the whole; this is the result of growth and of dynamic balance, adjustment, and integration, rather than of mere technical efficiency.
Primary emphasis on the efficiency of parts in management science is therefore bound to do damage. It is bound to optimize precision of the tool at the expense of the health and performance of the whole.
From p 97 of The Daily Drucker : 366 Days of Insight and Motivation for Getting the Right Things Done. Bold emphasis is mine.
Drucker, as usual, gets it right. And says it better than anyone else, most of all me.
I hope this is helpful.