Fixes that Fail Systems Archetype
Have you noticed how often your best intentions go awry? You set out to fix a problem and shortly thereafter you find yourself fixing the same problem again, and again. This generally results from some unexpected consequences, things that come into play because of your action, or the results of your action, that you never expected, which is why they're called unexpected consequences.
A Fixes that Fail Systems Archetype consists of a Balancing Loop which is intended to achieve a particular result, yet the result is foiled by an insidious Reinforcing Loop. These two loops interact in such a way that the desired result initially produced by the Balancing Loop is, after some delay, negated by the actions of the Reinforcing Loop. This structure may also be referred to as a Remedies that Fail structure.
- The most effective strategy for dealing with this structure is advance planning. Since you can never do just one thing, as everything affects everything else, before taking action to change the current state, think about what else that action, or change in the current state, is likely to affect. And, what effect the effect will have. Sometimes the unexpected consequence may be several effects away, so don't stop at just one. Essentially what one seeks to do is close the loop and identify the unexpected, which means it's no longer unexpected then, is it?
- A less effective strategy would be to figure out how to disconnect the unexpected consequence from influencing the action or the current state. Of course then it wouldn't be a consequence, would it?
Areas of Concern
- There are times when attempts to deal with a situation in a particular way makes it even more difficult to deal with the situation in an appropriate manner later on which is often an indication of a Shifting the Burden Systems Archetype.
Systems Thinking World Discussions
Systems Thinking World Q&A * Gene Bellinger