CornerStone Consulting AssociatesCurrent Reality
Current Realities: Organizational Learning and Growth

Frozen By Dynamic Complexity

We Can't Just Stand Here!

Has this ever happened to you?...

Team members think they understand the challenge they face -- and so they move forward with confidence. However, unexpected circumstances begin to occur. As the team tries to gain more insight into what's really happening, they become overwhelmed and begin to doubt their abilities.

They find they don't understand one another as well as they originally believed. And to make matters worse, they discover that they're making choices and decisions based on wrong information. Forward progress grinds to a halt.

The team realizes that information feedback is needed to understand how a given set of actions produce a given set of results. However, they begin to notice that feedback may arrive at unpredictable times and can be filtered (or altered) such that they can't correctly associate cause and effect. They believed they were learning as a project team, but instead find that they were learning incompletely -- generating unintended consequences. We call this degradation process ”unlearning.”

The team also notices that the faster they go, the worse matters get. The tendency is to freeze -- to halt forward progress until ”we can be sure of what to do next.” As frustration rises over not being able to move and not accepting the standstill either, someone finally says ”We can't just stand here.” A dilemma.

Systems Thinking surfaces the delays and filters associated with feedback in human / business systems, allowing teams to practice methods to more correctly associate cause and effect. It allows teams to again make forward progress by understanding the delays and filters associated with information feedback in the learning process. As the understanding grows, the team begins to learn how to do two very important things:
  1. Pick the appropriate ”speed” to move through a project given their level of understanding of information purity and flow.
  2. Improve the purity of information feedback and shorten the delays -- allowing a faster and deeper learning process.
A working knowledge of System Dynamics allows the team to go well beyond what they thought was possible. Other problems and issues facing teams will begin to resolve since they are most often symptomatic of an ”incomplete” learning process.

©CCA 1998

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CornerStone Consulting Associates
Bringing Systems to Life
2761 Stiegler Road - Valley City OH 44280 - US

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