Now, there is an addiction (dependency) to one solution to the exclusion of others!
WHAT THE STRUCTURE LOOKS LIKE AT A POINT IN TIME (AS AN EVENT)
We needed a solution yesterday.
It is getting harder to get to the fundamental solutions.
Look here. The solution has worked so far. What do you mean, there is trouble “down the road?”
THE STORY OF UNANTICIPATED DEPENDENCY
A MANAGEMENT STORY ILLUSTRATING THE BEHAVIOR OF THE STRUCTURE PLAYING OUT OVER TIME (BOT / VIDEO)
“Toothache / Scanner” story
- Company buys a new scanner that only Gary knows how to operate.
- A ne member of the staff needs photos scanned in for a presentation – she takes Gary for tea and asks him to help scan the photos
- After he obliges, more staff approach him to help scan in their photos
- One day, Gary decides to leave the company
- His colleagues throw a farewell party for him but are still unable to scan photos after he leaves.
BEHAVIOUR OF THE GRAPH (PATTERN) OVER TIME
DESCRIPTION OF THE ARCHETYPE
A short-term solution is used to correct a problem with seemingly positive immediate results (like taking a painkiller to deal with a toothache). As this correction is used more and more fundamental long-term corrective measures are used less and less. Over time, the capabilities for the fundamental solution may atrophy or become disabled leading to an even greater reliance on the symptomatic solution.
We know the fundamental solution, but are unwilling or unable to take it, so we implement the symptomatic solution and deal with the side effects.
There are two ways to solve the problem. The first. as in most cases problems do not present themselves, instead they present as symptoms (e.g. pain for a bad tooth) and as such, we treat the symptoms of the problem (symptomatic solution). There is another way to solve the problem and that is addressing the cause of the problem. However often it may take time to reach the solution (see a dentist) or for the solution to take effect (improve dental hygiene). As such, we resort to reverting to the symptomatic solutions (learning to pop the ‘Panadol’ faster … and faster). Before we know it we are addicted to it, often spawning more problems down the road (creating “Turtles all the way”)
OUTLOOK THAT CAUSES THE STRUCTURE TO PERSIST DESPITE OUR EFFORTS TO SOLVE THEM / RESISTS PROBLEM SOLVING:
“We know what we need to do, but it’s difficult to deal with, so let’s put on a bandage instead.”
FEAR OF REJECTION. LEARNING: TO LET IT GO SO AS NOT TO LET THE FEAR AFFECT THE WAYS YOU SHAPE YOUR OUTLOOK, PERSPECTIVES AND DECISION-MAKING.
MAKING A SYSTEMIC INTERVENTION
TREATING THE STRUCTURE
BREAKING ORGANISATIONAL GRIDLOCK
Focus on the fundamental solution. The archetype provides a starting point for breaking gridlock by identifying chains of problem symptoms and solutions that form walls between functions, departments or divisions.
- Problem symptoms are usually easier to recognise than the other elements of the structure.
- If the side-effect has become the problem, you may be dealing with an “Addiction” structure. Map all the “quick fixes” that appear to be keeping the problems under control or undermining the viability of the fundamental solution. Identify impact on others. What are the impacts of those “solutions” on other players in the company.
- Identify fundamental solutions. Whether a solution is fundamental or symptomatic often depends on one’s perspective. Explore the problem from differing perspectives in order to come to a more comprehensive understanding of what the fundamental solution may be.
What it looks like if the system was working well:
- “We take responsibility and spend the time and effort required to be effective even if it’s difficult.
- We are willing and able to invest the time and effort required to implement the fundamental solution.