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System Traps and Opportunities

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Sydney Limited WIP Society presentation on "Systems Traps and Opportunities". Part of series introducing Systems Thinking based on Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows

Veröffentlicht in: Leadership & Management

System Traps and Opportunities

  1. 1. System Traps and Opportunities Sydney Limited WIP Society Jason Yip j.c.yip@computer.org http://jchyip.blogspot.com @jchyip
  2. 2. How do you fix this? “Australia’s youth unemployment rate of 27.2 per cent is the highest since the 1990s, up from a low of 16.6 per cent just before the global financial crisis in 2008.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-17/youth-unemployment-a-key-challenge-as-boomers-retire/5896202
  3. 3. System structures that produce common patterns of problematic behavior are called “archetypes”
  4. 4. We tend to blame the problems caused by archetypes on particular actors or events instead of underlying system structure
  5. 5. Interventions assuming the problem is due to individual actors or events (e.g., blaming, disciplining, specific policies, etc.) do not fix structural problems -- hence “System Trap”
  6. 6. Policy resistance
  7. 7. The advantage of a balancing feedback loop structure is that not much changes, despite external forces on the system
  8. 8. The disadvantage of a balancing feedback loop structure is that not much changes, despite external forces on the system
  9. 9. War on Drugs Increased risk of supplying Increased price of drugs More drugs supplied Increased profitability of drugs
  10. 10. Policy resistance happens because actors in the system have their own goals. If one actor pushes the system in one direction, the others will pull it back.
  11. 11. Solutions to Policy Resistance 1. Overpower it 2. Let go (aka de-escalate) 3. Harmonise goals
  12. 12. Tragedy of the Commons
  13. 13. “...individuals acting independently and rationally according to one’s self-interest, behave contrary to the whole group’s long-term best interests by depleting some common resource.” http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons
  14. 14. The Tragedy of the Commons “As a rational being, each herdsman seeks to maximize his gain. Explicitly or implicitly, more or less consciously, he asks, “What is the utility to me of adding on more animal to my herd?” This utility has one negative and one positive component. 1) The positive component is a function of the increment of one animal. Since the herdsman receives all the proceeds from the sale of the additional animal, the positive utility is nearly +1. 2) The negative component is a function of the additional overgrazing created by one more animal. Since, however, the effects of overgrazing are shared by all the herdsman, the negative utility for any particular decision-making herdsman is only a fraction of -1.” http://www.garretthardinsociety.org/articles/art_tragedy_of_the_commons.html
  15. 15. +1 +1 - 0.0...1 - 0.0...1
  16. 16. Examples ● Overfishing ● Overpopulation ● Climate change
  17. 17. “The tragedy of the commons arises from missing (or too long delayed) feedback from the resource to the growth of the users of that resource.” Donella H. Meadows. Thinking in Systems: A Primer (p. 117). Kindle Edition.
  18. 18. Solutions to Tragedy of the Commons 1. Educate and exhort 2. Privatise the commons 3. Regulate the commons
  19. 19. 1. Define clear group boundaries 2. Match rules governing use of common goods to local needs and conditions 3. Ensure that those affected by the rules can participate in modifying the rules 4. Make sure the rule-making rights of community members are respected by outside authorities 5. Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behaviour 6. Use graduated sanctions for rule violators 7. Provide accessible, low-cost means for dispute resolution 8. Build responsibility for governing the common resource in nested tiers from the lowest level up to the entire interconnected system http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/elinor-ostroms-8-principles-managing-commmons
  20. 20. Drift to low performance
  21. 21. We tend to believe bad news more than good news We believe our current performance is worse than it actually is We adjust our performance goal based on our perceived current state Our actual performance gets worse We adjust our corrective action based on our performance goal
  22. 22. Solutions to Drift to Low Performance 1. Keep standards absolute, regardless of performance 2. Set goals based on the best performances of the past, instead of the worst (aka positive deviance)
  23. 23. Escalation
  24. 24. Examples ● Arms race ● Price war
  25. 25. http://www.leader-values.com/article.php?aid=247
  26. 26. Solutions to Escalation 1. Unilateral disarmament 2. Negotiate disarmament 3. Don’t get caught up in this in the first place
  27. 27. Success to the Successful
  28. 28. “If the winners of a competition are systematically rewarded with the means to win again, a reinforcing feedback loop is created by which, if it is allowed to proceed uninhibited, the winners eventually take all, while the losers are eliminated. Donella H. Meadows. Thinking in Systems: A Primer (p. 130). Kindle Edition.”
  29. 29. Competitive Exclusion Principle “...two species competing for the same resource cannot coexist at constant population values, if other ecological factors remain constant.” http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Competitive_exclusion_principle
  30. 30. “The rich get richer...”
  31. 31. Solutions to Success to the Successful 1. Diversification to other sectors 2. Policies to level the playing field 3. Policies to ensure rewards do not bias the next round of competition
  32. 32. Shifting the Burden to the Intervenor
  33. 33. An intervention is a system trap if it undermines the original capacity of the system to maintain itself and therefore increases dependence on the intervenor.
  34. 34. This is what is meant by Shifting the Burden to the Intervenor “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
  35. 35. Solutions to Shifting the Burden to the Intervenor 1. Withdrawal (painful) 2. Intervene in such a way as to strengthen the ability of the system to shoulder its own burdens a. Why are the natural correction mechanisms failing? b. How can obstacles to their success be removed? c. How can mechanisms for their success be made more effective?
  36. 36. Rule Beating (aka cheating)
  37. 37. “Wherever there are rules, there is likely to be rule beating.” Donella H. Meadows. Thinking in Systems: A Primer (p. 136). Kindle Edition.
  38. 38. Solutions to Rule Beating 1. Stamp out self-organisation… and hope that it doesn’t create even more cheating 2. Improve rules to support self-organisation
  39. 39. Seeking the Wrong Goal
  40. 40. “If the goal is defined badly, if it doesn't measure what it's supposed to measure, if it doesn't reflect the real welfare of the system, then the system can't possibly produce a desirable result.” Donella H. Meadows. Thinking in Systems: A Primer (p. 138). Kindle Edition.
  41. 41. Examples ● National security: amount of money spent on the military ● Good education: amount of money spent on students, performance on standardised tests ● Family planning: number of IUDs implanted ● National success: GDP
  42. 42. Solutions to Seeking the Wrong Goal ● Change your indicators and goals ● Don’t confuse effort with result
  43. 43. Thoughts? Questions?
  44. 44. Pictures ● https://flic.kr/p/7xz1XT ● https://flic.kr/p/6QWKE2 ● https://flic.kr/p/ci4muE