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Introduction to System Thinking


An introduction to the four elements of Deming's System of Profound Knowledge

Course Description: 

Based on the message of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, this class will introduce the four elements of his System of Profound Knowledge (SoPK). They include Appreciation for a System, Knowledge of Variation, Theory of Knowledge, and Psychology. While all four topics will be introduced, the main focus of this class will be on System Thinking. Students will explore how undesirable outcomes occur not from individual shortcomings in processes and people, but rather the inadequate collaboration and overlooked influences occurring in the larger system. The Why is this condition so prevalent?” question will be an integral part of the learning experience by examining the symptoms related to non-system thinking.  

This course is part of the Lean Leadership track* and includes Business Culture Excellence Using the Deming Lens. Prerequisite: Leading with Lean.  

* The Lean Leadership track is an OU Lean Institute exclusive. Featuring Business Culture Excellence Using the Deming Lens and Introduction to System Thinking, this track is designed to optimize organizational success by helping organizations Lead with Lean. Prerequisite: Leading with Lean. Recommended follow-up training: Gemba Walking

General Information:  

All classroom dates meet from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Registration for all classes closes one week prior to their start date. Online registration is available for most courses. Otherwise, you may contact Registration and Records at (405) 325-6034 to sign up. 

Quick Facts

Course length: 2.5 hours 

Prerequisites: Leading with Lean

Next Offered: TBA

Instructor: Brian deFonteny

Location: Tinker Business and Industrial Park 

Cost: $275.00. 5-person minimum for class to make. 

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Next steps:

If you are a business or organization new to Lean Culture thinking, the Lean Institute recommends Building a Strategic Plan for overall Process Improvement and Business Culture as a follow-up to the Leading with Lean course.

For the Lean-experienced business, organization or individual, we recommend Business Culture Excellence Using the Deming Lens after completing Leading with Lean.



Course Credits

Participants receive Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits, which are required to maintain many professional licensures. OULI training also qualifies as PDU credits for Project Management Professionals. 

Training Locations

Public classes are held at the Tinker Business Industrial Park at I-40 and Sooner Road. All public classes are open enrollment and typically feature an interesting mix of teams from a variety of industries. 
The Lean Institute also offers private or contracted training programs onsite at locations across the state, including workshops implemented at suitable client facilities. 



OULI's team of instructors and consultants are practicing experts in the field with extensive history in implementing process improvement efforts and coaching students.

Brian deFonteny 

deFonteny is the creator of Leading with Lean and other short courses offered by the OU Lean Institute. A certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt once active in the oil and gas industry, deFonteny has more than a decade of experience as a Lean practitioner, coach and instructor. He holds a master’s degree in human relations and a bachelor’s in psychology. deFonteny is committed to optimizing organizational success by helping others Lead with Lean. He is the author of Leadership Reimagined and an adjunct professor with the University of Oklahoma.  

Joyce Hinton

Hinton is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and has served as an OULI Lean Six Sigma coach, instructor and consultant for many of the Institute’s major clients. She is the primary instructor for the Institute’s LSS White and Green Belt training workshops. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and has completed extensive training in Lean Six Sigma methodologies, as well as having extensive experience in both management and procurement. 

Teresa Tobias

Tobias is a certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt trained by some of the original consultants in the industry (Sigma Sciences, Inc., p.k.a. Six Sigma Associates). She has worked with Six Sigma Academy, the first consulting organization created by the founder of Six Sigma, Dr. Mikel Harry. Tobias has extensive experience at the strategic level working with leadership. At the tactical level, she has coached and mentored clients' internal resources for hundreds of transformational projects. 

Larry Fisher

Fisher is the Center Process Manager for Continuous Improvement and Innovation (CI2), Air Force Sustainment Center, Tinker AFB. He coordinates continuous improvement mentoring and training for 35,000+ Airmen. As a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Black Belt, he is an instructor and facilitates multi-organizational improvement events, mentors, and coaches those utilizing CI2 techniques and seeking LSS Green Belt/Black Belt certifications. Since 1985, Fisher has held positions in engineering, quality, contracting and process improvement organizations.