Word pro - flyer crisis syndrome recovery2p.lwp
It’s more than you think.SM
How to escape the crisis syndrome?
add them to a list of pending candidate pro-
What is systems thinking?
When individuals or organizations act to re-
jects. This need not be unpleasant, if done
lieve problem symptoms, but fail to address
without blame using the ground rules for ef-
fundamental solutions, it leads to The Crisis
… instead of by analyzing the parts.
+: addiction to “the quick fix.
Impact of Dynamic Complexity
In fact, the approaches for organizations to
We can reward abstinence & improvement
escape an addictive cycle and transition from
(structure in green). Organizations can learn
a short-term to a long-term focus parallel
to measure the real “health of the system”
those thato help individuals. Figures 1 & 2
and not depend on feedback from symptoms.
show added structure to oppose individual
“Addiction, A Whole New
We can reward problem prevention based on
and organizational addiction, respectively.
View,” Psychology Today
Treat the System
Brief Intervention & motivational Interviewing
Modern addiction therapy uses family therapy (structure in
Properly designed very brief treatment can be highly successful
olive), treating the family unit is treated as a whole, not just the against even moderately severe addictions. To illustrate, a
“identified” person. Similarly, for performance problems in or-
“treatment group” got counseling & Antabuse and a “control
ganizations, we must move from optimizing the parts to opti-
group” got a brief self-help manual and was told to go home,
mizing the whole, a major theme of systems thinking (see
read it and do their best. The control group did just as well.
boxes: “What is systems thinking?” above & “Organizational Success &
Handing out the manual motivated the control group, despite
Failure” on reverse). We can evolve from “blame the person” to
expectations it would not. “The addicts changed and moder-
“blame the process” to “blame the system” to simply “eliminate ated their drinking. Simply giving them the manual, saying to
blame,” it’s unproductive and activates defensiveness, a pow-erful barrier to learning.*
No Time for
to work to
are you willing to adopt
new ways on trial basis? Experimentation
Intervention approaches for individuals that can help reverse the downward spiral of addiction.
+ see the paper The Crisis Syndrome
* see Defensive Routines
** see Facilitating Group Action
† see Exponential Improvement
2002 Continuous Improvement Associates
them that we believed they could help themselves, could
handle it, you can do this, was enough.”# Motivational inter-
Individuals seek out support groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anony-
viewing is examining “what’s worked in the past” to encourage mous). This is one of the most powerful approaches. The
more of it. Organizations can combine motivational interviewing group gives people support when they “backslide.” The theme
and brief-intervention therapy, acronym FRAMES:
of the 1997 Systems Thinking in Action™ Conference
y Feedback - specific and tailored to the individual, not general
learning organizations to learning communities,” reflects the or-
y Responsibility - it’s up to you, you are not a helpless victim
ganizational parallel. Peter Senge spoke of the purpose being
y Advice - firm and clear recommendationsy Menu - there are different ways to work this out
to provide continuing, mutual support to companies developing
y Empathy - the best therapists are supportive and warm
y Self-efficacy - “you can do it” … empowerment
Time to examine envisioned future keeps targets high, leads to
Research on abrupt personality change reveals instances
setting higher targets, & opposes long term goal erosion.*
where a transformed world view stopped addictive habits over- Experimentation & Preparation for Change
night (e.g., Malcolm X, AA co-founder Bill Wilson).
Experimentation can encourage individuals and organizations
Similar results have been observed in organizations, such as
to “just try it” for a while and see if it works. Preparation for
abrupt mental model shifts at Harley-Davidson.## They learned change provides forewarning of some discomfort; that very
the new language of causal loop diagrams and their system
warning may lessen the pain caused by change.
structure was explained in those terms. New mental models im-proved understanding; this allowed teams to recognize what
was happening to them and change behaviors.
The parallels between the problems individuals, organizations,
and societies face reveals the power of the structure of addic-tion. Organizations can examine their policies in the context of
Tapering down and “relapse prevention” skills help individuals this structure and modify them to improve performance.
cope with mistakes and set-backs . to not give up if they
lowering the water
crisis & firefighting
No Time for
precesses for Change
to work to
tinually delayed to “fix” current de-
foster willingness to
try new practices
Intervention approaches for organizations that can help reverse the downward spiral of addiction.
Organizational Success & Failure
… success and failure arises primarily from the internal policies and in-
situation, rather than making it much more invulnerable. … you find cor-
formation flows. There is a great tendency when there is some kind of
porations that will go for decades in a certain mode like low profitability
difficulty, problem or failure to blame it on the outside world, to blame it
or high instability of employment where competitors in the same environ-
on other people, but I would say that, almost always, the problem arises
ment are not experiencing problems of that sort. It clearly has to be
from the internal structure, the internal policies, even in situations where
something that is internal and continuing in that organization … there are
there’s a clear, unambiguous external cause. You look back into the or-
systemic reasons for most of the important things that happen. Jay For-
ganization and you find that it has policies that made it vulnerable to that
rester, Power of Systems Thinking Conference, May 1995, Boston, MA
Beyond questions and insights described in
The Crisis Syndrome and Escaping the Crisis Syndrome:
y Examine different approaches to enhancing long term focus.
y Examine the effectiveness of organizational policies & rewards in
terms of this Crisis Syndrome structure and the extent
to which they encourage long-term focus.
y Examine barriers to changing policies & rewards and develop plans for change.
# “Addiction, A Whole New View,” Psychology Today
, 10/94 ## Repenning & Kieffer, 1997 Power of Systems Thinking
Conf. *See Service Quality Erosion 2002 Continuous Improvement Associates
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