The Laws That Govern Dynamic Complexities (in our everyday experiences)

There are very few rules or laws in Peter Senge’s works on Learning Organizations, their art and their practices.

These here are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Still, when you take a careful look at these “laws”, you would discover they generally stay “hidden” from or as we would say in systems thinking vernacular, “underlying” our perceptions and experiences of our realities, rather than as most laws do, “on the walls” or “in our faces”.

Peter and his team, in particular by his references to Jay Forresters’ works have allowed these, better termed as principles, to emerge and I would like to add, is their contribution to mankind of what realistically and therefore, naturally governs our experiences.

We are not new to the idea of laws.  They have been there since the times of the bible.  “Governments” of nations that proposes or opposes or legislates  or makes “the laws of their lands” or rules of governance of men and women.

However, as a point of interest, should we understand the laws of dynamic complexities, we now have a better way of understanding our experiences of everyday living and therefore deal with it.  When we do so, we would find that we would not need “the rules of the land” by as much.  When we do not understand them, however, we use the “rules of government” as fall-backs, or quick fixes.

And, that’s what they really are.  The rules that govern us today are an indicator of our lack of understanding of these natural laws.  These are for now, a ‘foreign’ notion’ in relation to  contemporary management concepts.

Then again, most concepts of management are from the military (or we could trace them all the way back to the tussle between God and the devil, good and evil, to rightfully know “who is in charge”) designed to resist or “fight back” the realities our actions produce when we do not see beyond the immediate or the obvious.  Yes, the laws of the land protects us.  Protect us from the backlashes of our actions especially when we do not  have ways to understand our realities.

How then, do we use these natural laws?

First, we understand what they are.  There are eleven that Peter has listed in his book.  I have added a twelfth.  But more about it later.

Second, we learn to use them to understand our experiences better by perceiving the realities more widely as well as deeply,  This is a search for ‘the rest of the ice-berg’ that keeps that “tip bobbing the way it does”.  The bigger the iceberg, the less it bobs and therefore harder it becomes to “see” the ice-berg.  Use them as lenses to view our experiences and generate conversations to better “see” and understand them.

Thirdly, by way as much as possible we work hard not to “break”these laws.  The more we respect them, the more we reduce the impact dynamic complexities will have on us.  The less we do, the more aggressive they become.  However, when we understand the laws, it also  becomes easier not to break them.  That’s the gist of the “unspoken” Law No. 12.  So, now you know.

So here’s a list of these eleven laws.  Count how many already makes sense to you as you read them.

Law #1:  Today’s problems come from yesterday’s solution.

Law #2:  The harder we push, the harder the system pushes back.

Law #3:  Behavior grows better before it grows worse.

Law #4:  The easy way out, usually leads back in.

Law #5:  The cure can be worse than the disease.

Law #6:  Faster is slower.

Law #7:  The cause and its effect are not closely related in time and space.

Law #8:  Small changes can produce big results (leverage).  But the areas of highest leverage are often the least obvious.

Law #9:  You can have your cake and eat it too.

Law #10:  Dividing an elephant in half does not produce two smaller elephants.

Law #11:  There is no blame.

Are they intuitive?  Yet, they are also counter-intuitive.  Just be assured, however, these will be clarified as we explore each one in turn.

Ready?  So here we go.