“Why should we worry about problems we do not have? We’re growing tremendously. (A little later), “Sure there are some problems, but all we have to do is go back to what was working before.” Still later. “The harder we run, the more we stay in the same place.”
WHAT THE STRUCTURE LOOKS LIKE AT A POINT IN TIME (AS AN EVENT)
Whatever we tried to do, we are not getting the successes we used to get. Somebody is not doing their job well. It feels like a pressure-cooker here.
The same things that got us success in the past is not helping us to get as much success as before and seem to be making things worse!
THE STORY OF UNANTICIPATED CONSTRAINTS
A MANAGEMENT STORY ILLUSTRATING THE BEHAVIOR OF THE STRUCTURE PLAYING OUT OVER TIME (BOT / VIDEO)
“Marketing and Service Department” / “Volunteers and Regulars” story
- Sales manager implements successful sales tactics to increase sale of computers
- However, as sales increase, the technicians are unable to handle the increase in computers sent for servicing and repairs
- The poor after sales service affects the company’s reputation and sales drop.
BEHAVIOUR OF THE GRAPH (PATTERN) OVER TIME
DESCRIPTION OF THE ARCHETYPE
Success or growth is levelling off or declining.
The more effort we put in, the greater the result we get. Therefore we put in more efforts that got us the results. However, the same effort we put in creates a limit somewhere else in the system. Overtime this creates a limiting action that opposes the growth of the result and continues to erode the results by which time the limit (and the organisation) disappears by itself.
When things slow down after the initial dizzying heights of glory.
This suggests that the system has hit a bottleneck that is hidden. It is not easily visible.
And if you look at the structure of the archetype carefully, we see that it starts with a circle reinforcing in one direction (clockwise on your left-most side of the archetype. Yes? And then as that circle sets into motion, we see another circle running off right next to it. Except it is turning in the opposite direction. It is a pictorial representation but I like this form of presentation as it allows us to imagine a metaphor of a bicycle with wheels turning in opposite directions. Eventually the bicycle will have to grind to a halt. That is the fate (destiny) of this structure.
The purpose of this archetype is to help us find where these bottlenecks that are grinding the structure to a halt may be lying within the system. It is usually the part of the structure that is the least obvious. Here’s an example to illustrate this.
Let’s imagine that we have just designed and produced a brand new model of a laptop. It is a very good design and we think to ourselves that surely if we can find ways to take it the market, that people will buy it. So, in order to make that happen, we set up a team, a team of marketing agents and their role is to take the product to the market and interest customers in purchasing the product.
OUTLOOK THAT CAUSES THE STRUCTURE TO PERSIST DESPITE OUR EFFORTS TO SOLVE THEM / RESISTS PROBLEM SOLVING:
““We’ll get bigger and better by continuing to do more of what we are doing now.”
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
BREAKING ORGANISATIONAL GRIDLOCK
If we don’t plan for limits we are planning for failure. By mapping out the growth engines and potential danger points in advance, we can anticipate future problems and eliminate them
- The archetype is most helpful when it is used ahead of any problems, to see how the cumulative effects of continued success might lead to future problems
- Use the archetypes to explore questions such as “What kinds of pressures are building up in the organisation as a result of growth?”
- Look for ways to relieve pressures or remove limits before success blows over – may need to consider slowing down the growth to hive resources long enough to overcome the limits
What it looks like if the system was working well:
- “We can overcome limits by planning for them.”
We identify, evaluate and plan for limits