There is no end in sight!
WHAT THE STRUCTURE LOOKS LIKE AT A POINT IN TIME (AS AN EVENT)
There is no end in sight!
When I define my success as where my position is relative to the other!
THE STORY OF ONE-UPMANSHIP, UNINTENED PROLIFERATION: the harder you push, the harder the competitor pushes back
A MANAGEMENT STORY ILLUSTRATING THE BEHAVIOR OF THE STRUCTURE PLAYING OUT OVER TIME (BOT / VIDEO)
When things get out of control. This archetype tends to happen wherever there is a border that separates one neighbor from another. It could very well be the wall that separates the occupants of a house, the fence that separates two neighbors in a housing estate, the line that separates one department from another or that separates one district or precinct from another or the border between two countries, and so on. Anyplace where there is a line that separates two persons.
The consequences of such an archetype can range from a tiff or assaults between two persons, land grabbing or husband (or wife) grabbing, divorces, price wars to real wars. A nuclear war or even a threat of one, is just one more tipping point in this archetype. It can spawn global wars. It is a very expensive archetype – it consumes a lot of resources.
This is a real-life story.
It all started with an orange peel.
The new family has just moved into the neighborhood. It had left its old neighborhood to start afresh in a new place after relations at the old neighborhood soured.
He and his family took some time to settle in and after a few weeks of the first bustle, the father decided one day to take a stroll around his new garden. As he was passing by the side of the garden that he shares a fence with his neighbour, he noticed a peel of an orange slice on his side of the garden. And he thinks to himself that he had not bought any oranges for the house in the past several weeks. So where did this peel come from?
As he thinks about the question, he peers over the fence and sees his neighbor in his house.
He concludes that this peel must have come from his neighbor’s house. Somebody had thrown the peel over the fence into his house. He thinks it was alright to do so when no one stayed there but certainly not when he is staying there now! He says to himself the problems that he faced in his earlier neighborhood has not stopped and decided that he needs to do something that would stop this forever. He needs to teach them ‘a lesson’ they will not forget!
The next day, as the neighbor on the other side of the fence, left his house to rush to work and when he was about to jump into his car, he notices that there is mud splashed on the fender at the front of his car. The car had been facing towards the house of his new neighbor. He had heard from his wife circumstances under which the new neighbor had left his old estate. He now thinks that the new neighbor is up to it ‘again’ and decided that he needs to do something that would stop this starting in this neighborhood. He needs to teach the new neighbor ‘a lesson’ he will not forget! Wait till he comes back home.
The following day, as the new neighbor walks out of his house to his car, he notices there is a stench coming from the car parked outside the driveway. When he approaches the car, he notices to his chagrin and surprise that somebody had dumped a load of rubbish from a household bin on to the windscreen of his car. He could not believe it! Surely he did not deserve it! And he notices that his car had been facing towards his neighbor’s house. They are doing it again, he concluded. He washes off his car, while seething under his collars and wondering what is it he needs to do to stop this once and for all!
What should he do next?
BEHAVIOUR OF THE GRAPH (BOT) / PATTERN OVER TIME
DESCRIPTION OF THE ARCHETYPE
Each party sees the other’s actions as a threat and responds in a way that threatens the other.
This archetype sometimes trigger when we have two or more persons coming together. Each sees one’s “survival” as depending on one’s position (or success) relative to the other. Anytime this position is “upset” I can choose to take one of two actions; to take flight (which often may not be viable) or to fight (which is the (more “manly”) thing to do otherwise we risk “losing face”). Therefore we might choose to take actions, that would allow us to create results that bring each of our positions to even or better the other. Follow the arrows and you would see an infinity sign appear. This archetype never quite ends (perpetuates even after the originators have gone) and has a tendency to “suck in” everyone and/or everything around them.
OUTLOOK THAT CAUSES THE STRUCTURE TO PERSIST DESPITE OUR EFFORTS TO SOLVE THEM / RESISTS PROBLEM SOLVING:
“We are under attack or being threatened and we need to take action to defend ourselves.”
FEAR OF FAILURE. LEARNING: TO LET IT GO SO AS NOT TO LET THE FEAR AFFECT THE WAY YOU SHAPE YOUR OUTLOOK, PERSPECTIVES AND DECISION-MAKING.
MAKING A SYSTEMIC INTERVENTION
TREATING THE STRUCTURE
One of the reasons we get caught in escalation dynamics may stem from our view of competition.
- To break an escalation structure ask the following questions:
- What is the relative measure (price, quality, etc.) that pits one party against the other, and can you change it?
- What are the significant delays in the system that may distort the true nature of the threat? Quantify them.
- What are the deep-rooted assumptions that lie beneath the actions taken in response to the threat?
- Name the key players caught in the dynamic
- Map what is being threatened. Are your (organisation’s) actions addressing the real threat or simply serving preserving values that may no longer be relevant?
- Identify a larger goal encompassing both parties’ goals.
- Avoid future “Escalation” traps by creating a system of collaborative competition.
- Avoid starting an escalation archetype – once we start we never end;
- Be aggressively peaceful
What it looks like if the system was working well:
- “There is always a way for us to work this out together”
- We work together and communicate openly for our collective success.
Real-life Examples of Esc BOTs: