1. Hi Jelena. We've never met before but I'm well aware of your work with the Goldratt Schools and now I've just read your new book "Behind the Cloud". Before I get to your book can you tell us about yourself?
When I am asked about myself, I usually say that I come from a very small country of 1.4 million people altogether – from Estonia. It is interesting to say that to a group of students in a city of a few million people.
I think I have been very lucky to consciously know and go in my life through three geopolitical periods: the former Soviet Union with its ideology and planned economy, the transition period when Estonia was regaining its independence and learning how to operate in the market economy, and Estonia as the part of the European Union.
My background was shaped by my interests, circumstances and choices – in this sequence. As a child I was interested in languages and after school went to Minsk State Linguistic University, it was then called Minsk State Institute of Foreign Languages. I majored in English. We had top professors, and they built into us desire and knowledge to understand the meaning of what is said or written – to be proficient in teaching and translating. The university was five years six day study-week of hard work. A few years after I graduated, in 1991, the Soviet Union stopped existing. It was an overall change – major, deep and drastic. By then I was back to Estonia. We had to reassess the past and to learn how to cope in the new circumstances. The only way not to lose oneself was to stick to the main values of honesty and honor, and work for the benefit of the family, and society. It was a matter of choice.
I had what was not a common skill at those times – the professional knowledge of English, as well as trained skills how to translate and teach it. We were going into the new life, and it was no way that without making English a working language we could get the knowledge of how to set and run businesses, how to operate in the market economy and how to integrate into Europe. English was needed by everyone - kids at schools, students at universities, banks, local governments, diplomats, production companies, emerging entrepreneurs. It was not only English. The new life demanded the understanding of how different businesses worked. It needed to be translated, literally and figuratively, into building the new reality. I have worked with businesses and organizations that were of different sizes and had a different overall impact on what was happening to the country. I was helping them to acquire business knowledge and go through the changes. In the second half of 1990-s I felt I wanted to formalize my business knowledge, and I did an MBA in Concordia International University Estonia.
In 1999 I was approached by Heiti Pakk, director of Goldratt Baltic Network, who was looking for someone with the knowledge of English and business – to translate Goldratt Satellite Program into Russian. This is how my TOC journey started. I felt comfortable with the logic and straightforwardness of the approach, and have been working with TOC since then, first with Goldratt Baltic Network, then, since 2005, with Goldratt Schools.
In Goldratt Schools I have been lucky and privileged to closely work with Oded Cohen and Eli Schragenheim. I very much value working together with Martin Powell, Alejandro Fernandez, Roy Stratton, Frances Su, Philip Viljoen and other Goldratt Schools colleagues.
I believe that the strength of the TOC community is that many people professionally know many other people, the common knowledge is immense, and we can always rely on each other for assistance, and sharing knowledge and information. That is how, several years ago, I learnt about your site - from my old-standing friend Jim Bowels.
2. I've just finished your new book and it's a success. I learnt a
lot from reading it and I wish I'd had it a years ago. I genuinely
believe I can write better clouds now. Can you tell us what the book
is about and why you wrote the book?
Thank you for the kind words about the book. The book is mostly about checking, building and understanding assumptions – our justifications of the logical connections in the cloud. I find understanding assumptions an absolute key for being able to make sense out of the cloud and to use the cloud for what it is meant – for finding a solid and robust solution.
Why I wrote this book? I felt I needed to share the knowledge that I have built over the years of working with clouds. Consistency of difficulties with surfacing assumptions and finding injections that are so typical for the learners of the cloud throughout the world suggested that probably there was a lack of formalized guidelines how to build an assumption, and how to recognize that an assumption was not strong enough.
I personally do not believe that the answer to proficiency is intuition. In my understanding intuition is the combination of the knowledge stored in the specific format and the process of “navigating” in this stored knowledge – that people follow so quickly that they are unable or do not bother to “unfold” them. That’s why, the performance based on intuition often leaves the impression that a person has a gift, a talent, to do something exceptionally well. And others just cannot do it because they do not have this gift. I do not agree. Or, mostly do not agree. I believe that both knowledge and processes are transferable. This is what I wanted to do with my book – to transfer the knowledge and the processes that I have. I believe I have them due to my background in linguistics and the built-in habit of working to understand what was meant under what was said. I wanted to share it.
3. How did you go about writing the book?
I just sat down and wrote, when I had time, simply talking to the readers, the same way as I teach TOC to the companies, and communication skills to my business school students. And it was the same enjoyable.
I wanted to get the book ready for the TOCICO Conference in New York in June this year. I am very grateful to Alan Leader who did marvelous job of editing, at the very short notice, and in the very short period of time, to help me get the book ready for print in time. And to Oded Cohen who was the first reader, also under a strong time pressure, and without knowing yet that the book was dedicated to him.
4. Who is the book aimed at primarily?
Everyone. I believe it will be beneficial for the beginners, and interesting for the experienced TOC practitioners.
5. Can you share your favourite TOC story?
I do not have a favourite story. We have seen many great implementations. We have seen how people build their confidence through building their skills. We have seen that the new knowledge makes people want to move with their lives and achieve more. I think the best a person can reach professionally – is understanding of their contribution to someone’s personal development. TOC certainly gives tools to make this contribution.
Available here: http://www.goldrattcentre.com/merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=1&Category_Code=110 or here: http://www.toc-goldratt.com/tocweekly/2011/06/new-book-behind-the-cloud-enhancing-logical-thinking/