Focusing on the symptom or the cure?
Forrester emphasized two points that may be worthwhile today to some of you reading this:
- When fundamental changes happen in the environment in which we operate, old rules of thumb likely no longer appply.
- Trying to fix problems by focusing on symptoms is highly risky, for, even in static times, our intuitions don't always work as well as we need. In times of transition and turbulence, it's especially important to ensure one understands the dynamic causes of the problem being faced before engaging in actions that could be counterproductive.
Forrester was a bit more direct than I was in my paraphrase. "One should never attempt to find a solution without first establishing the dynamic causes," he wrote, and system dynamics was his tool of choice for testing whether one had found the underlying causes or not.
Today we face increasing energy costs, increasing population density, increasing effects on climate and on the inhabitants of the Earth from the by-products of our industrial and private activity, fundamental shifts in the distribution of production and wealth, a scarcity of resources that were abundant in the past, and the fall-out from overextended financial markets. No matter your type of organization, the complexity of these changes taxes our understanding.
In a time of such changes, how do you make sense of the challenges your organization faces? How do you determine which actions to take to achieve the sustainable successes you want?
If you'd like to discuss ways in which you might make more sense of those issues, ways you might understand the likely causes of the dynamics you face, and ways you might test your proposed actions faster and at less risk than by just trying them, get in touch. Perhaps I can be of help as you seek to fix problems and not just reduce symptoms. Of course, there's no charge or obligation from such an initial discussion.