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Systems Thinking Tips #3- System Archetype Traps


Delays , nonlinearities , lack of firm boundaries and other properties of systems that surprise us are found in just about any system, Generally they are not properties that can or should be changed. The world is non-linear

Donella Meadows

Whilst dealing with systems there will be often many times that you will see them be non-linear in nature. Trying to solve them with linearity often as times is just an administrative convenience and nothing more.

System troubles are mostly unique in nature and such common problematic behaviors are known as archetypes. In context to management and system design, you will see two dominant archetypes that we should be aware of

  • Tragedy of Commons
  • Seeking the wrong goal
  • Drift to low performance
  • Escalation

Understanding archetypal problem-generating structures are not enough. Putting with them is impossible. They need to be changed. The destruction they caused is often blamed on particular actors or events although it is actually a consequence of system structure. Blaming, disciplining, firing, and making fevered changes to the policy framework will never fix this. This is what is described as archetype traps.

So what can we do about them?

In simple terms, when we start changing our approach to being systems thinkers, we will and should develop the look-ahead approach that helps us to see things in advance and not get caught by them. This is an important skill that can not be taught but only through experience and doing more, one hones it to make it effective. The more exposure you have to systems, and keep this in the back of your mind, you will see that every next move is following a reinforcing loop, making you better at identifying these traps.

When we talk in my upcoming post, we will get the concepts from Feedback tips and Solving problems creatively to converge with the identification of archetypes traps to create a blueprint of sorts for solving problems with a systems mindset.

Keep watching this space!

Systems Thinking Tips #2- Feedback Loops

The harder you push, the harder the system pushes back

Peter Senge – The Fifth Discipline

As the Senge quote implies, brute force does not scale well within the context of a system. One of the reasons for systems stability is feedback. Within the bounds of the system, actions lead to outcomes, which in turn affect future actions. This is a positive thing, as it is required to keep a complex operation on course.

The presence of feedback is an integral characteristic of a system. No feedback means no system.

There are two main types of feedback:

  • Reinforcing feedback: a change in system state which serves as a signal to enhance the initial change. In other words, the system provides a big difference in the same direction.
  • Balancing feedback: a change in a system state that serves as a signal to start moving in the opposite direction to restore the lost balance.

Things to consider are as follows

  • How you are accepting and executing feedback signals?
  • How the feedback relationship with your investors is evolving, in terms of your product direction?
  • How the feedback relationship with your users is evolving, in terms of both operational criteria and product direction?

Feedback loops are a powerful tool in the manager’s hands. The initial change in the variable (process, etc) stimulates its further change in the original direction. Thus, if we succeed in changing the variable in the direction we need (reinforcing loop), we can start the process throughout the whole context, and since the variables enter several contexts (aka contours) at once, we can launch the same series of cascade effects that will now work for us. All systems are endowed with a balancing feedback mechanism that ensures their stability. But — in order for balancing feedback to work, measurement is necessary (f.e., to define when should we switch to a balancing loop). This measurement must be accurate enough for the feedback to work adequately.

Leadership Insights Primer


Employees are looking for more effective patterns that can drive

  • More Communication
  • Greater Flexibility
  • Broader Representation
  • Stronger Vision articulation

As leaders, it will become imperative to address the above points for us to have a successful workforce that can rally toward stronger business outcomes.


All of us have been feeling, observing & reading about great resignation, frantic conversations on crazy salaries, increased #attrition, and covid, but I believe these problems are cyclic in nature and if we try to solve at a point in time we are going to burn the candle too fast. Consider the following points whilst finding yourself a fitment

  • Problems you are going to solve
  • Relationships you will be able to build
  • Fundamentals the company has
  • The value you will be able to add
  • The influence you will be able to create

Help build stronger foundations that can help create a balance, we tend to swing the pendulum too hard always!


“Illusion is the first of all pleasures” !

Voltaire

Be realistic about what you are trying to achieve!


As a leader within an organization you’ll need to work with many constraints and limitations of resources but still need to complete the task well within time. One should dig deep within themselves through the network effect of strong peers and management teams that can help one to get comfortable with uncomfortable questions.

Our ability to demonstrate true leadership will rely on :
1. Identification of true scarce resources
2. Prevent underappreciation of the complexity of managing scarcity and the benefits that come from doing it just a little bit better


As leaders, we talk a lot about being focused and remain careful not to use this as a force function because it can hamper lateral thinking & our ability to develop a systems approach within the organization.


As leaders, we never have enough time. It also is true that as we grow in a given role we play, we tend to become busier, we are providing less attention to every aspect being thrown at us. Our ability to absorb has to be of higher order to process a well-informed decision. It is important therefore that we group things in a manner that we become more effective. Context switching is ineffective and as leaders, we should minimize its impact.


Uncertainty is the name of the game. a year back we talked about 5-year plans and a couple of years back did strategic offsite huddles to frame our strategy but now planomics can only be as good as long it survives the next moment! From Developed to Developing .. nobody is prepared enough to handle the current COVID crisis. We are all reacting in the moment to take us farther than what we are today!



Systems Thinking is an evermore important skill to have in order to create better viewport of the solution we may have in mind! Events like COVID require systems-level thinking to see through challenges that create better feedback loops and broad-spectrum solution design!



Systems Thinking Tips #1- Help solve problems creatively

A systems thinking perspective and approach is key to effective roadmap integration and action. We should think in terms location and type of system ‘Leverage Points’ when we think of sustainable intervention and action.

For solving problems creatviely using systems thinking approach following three points are important to consider and keep in mind

Identify Points of Change

The first step is to understand the system you’re working with, and then identify its “leverage points”—in other words, the points in a system where “a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything,” as Thinking in Systems Meadows puts it.

Changing mindsets and paradigms is also a leverage point. Meadows believes it is the highest one:

“There’s nothing necessarily physical, expensive, or even slow in the process of paradigm change,” she said. “In a single individual, it can happen in a millisecond—all it takes is a click in the mind, an epiphany, a new way of seeing.”

Finding Patterns

Every system has patterns that will emerge. By identifying them, it’s possible to figure out which parts of the system need adjusting.

These patterns can be identified from three perspectives:

The “event perspective” is reactionary—for example, by asking, “What happened?” In order to get the most out of this perspective, try telling a story. Seeing beyond each event helps you see patterns and trends, which facilitates anticipating, predicting, and planning.

The “pattern perspective” is to ask, “What has been happening?” This relates to Ernest Hemingway’s “iceberg theory,” so-called because his writing explicitly stated only a small part of the larger story. It’s usually hard to see the underlying structures that cause events; the part of the iceberg hidden beneath the water line. A systems thinker does not assume the visible part of the iceberg is all there is to it.

The “structure perspective” asks, “What is causing the issue?” For instance, if you’re stuck in traffic, you don’t blame the person directly in front of you; you ask, “What’s causing the traffic jam?” Usually, the answer is construction or a crash. Systems thinkers make deductions based on internal structures to arrive at a conclusion.

Clarify the Issue

There’s a difference between “people problems” and “systems problems.” A bad hire that’s gossiping and distracting your team from work is a people problem. Therefore, replacing that person is a leverage point. But that doesn’t mean your people problem is not still related to a system, somehow. Maybe there’s a flaw in your interview process that allowed the bad hire to be made. In that case, the leverage point would be tweaking your hiring process.

Thinking back to the traffic jam, a potential system-based solution might be installing traffic lights, better enforcing traffic laws, or changing construction hours to a time when less people are commuting.

Getting to the core of a problem before making a decision will not only make you a better thinker, it will make you a more productive leader, too. We need to ensure that today’s solution does not become tomorrow’s problem

Book Review – Scarcity – True Cost Of Not Having Enough

I have been reading the Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much , which is a 2013 book by behavioural economist Sendhil Mullainathan and psychologist Eldar Shafir. It has been one of the most revealing books on certain behaviours which we exhibit in everyday life given our varied circumstances.

If you read through various chapters of the books , the authors have brought out real life examples that will make you know more about scarcity and its impact. By constantly loading the mind with other processes, it leaves less “mind” for the task at hand. Scarcity directly reduces bandwidth – not a person’s inherent capacity, but how much of that capacity is currently available for use.

Scarcity alters how we look at things; it makes us choose differently. This creates benefits; we are more effective in the moment. But it also comes at a cost; our single-mindedness leads us to neglect things we actually value!

part – one : The Scarcity Mindset

As leaders we talk about alot about being focussed , remain careful not to use this as a force function because it can hamper lateral thinking & our ability to develop systems approach within the organization.


Scarcity creates more scarcity and the examples quoted are a reflection of these real life dilemmas

  • How hard was it to pack your suitcase for a holiday! Well, that probably depended on two things: the amount of stuff you wanted to bring, and the size of your suitcase. This is a wonderful analogy for many decision areas in life.
  • For those of us trying to lose weight, the “stuff to pack” represents the amount and type of food we’d like to consume, and the suitcase represents the restricted calorie count of our diet plan.
  • For those of us struggling with poverty, we must determine how to best cover our bills, grocery shopping, and other purchases, given our finite budget.

Understanding the role of bandwidth helps us understanding specific circumstances.

part – two: Scarcity Creates Scarcity

As leaders we never have enough time . It also is true that as we grow ourselves in a given role we play , we tend to become more busy , we are providing less attention to every aspect being thrown at us . Our ability to absorb has to be of higher order to process a well informed decision. It is important therefore that we group things in a manner that we become more effective. Context switching is ineffective and as leaders we should minimise its impact.


The Firefighting Trap

part – three – Designing for Scarcity

Some unfortunate incidents At St. John’s and NASA have reflected upon the above mentioned trap which is a special care of scarcity trap. There will always be “too many problems and not enough time”. You will solve urgent ones and put nonurgent on burner. In engineering organization , we are always too busy meeting deadlines for each of our platform components that we forget to look at how the components will fit together. Recall what I have alluded about systems thinking at the start if blog. Without having a systemic view you cannot get components to to work for each other as opposed to against.

Organizations can create a domino effect , with each individual member pulling tam towards firefighting and reduced bandwidth . But organization can also be insightful , creating environments conducive to the successful management of scarcity challenges

part – three – Designing for Scarcity

As a leader of the organization you’ll need to work with so many constraints and limitations of resources but still need to complete the task well within time. One should dig deep within themselves through network effect of strong peer and management teams that help one to get comfortable with uncomfortable questions.

Our true leadership needs to address

  • Identification of true scarce resources [ first step ]
  • Prevent underappreciation of complexity of managing scarcity and the benefits that come from doing it just a little bit better

Break The Bias @ Women’s Month

Whilst we chose the month of March to celebrate Being Woman, I have been scouting examples through daily life to see how diversity is doing beyond corporate boundaries. You did be surprised with the level of penetration it has reached an awareness which is getting created! Above is a photo of me recently at Delhi Airport, and I saw this big banner post! was very happy to see we are bringing the message closer to the masses. Another instance was when my wife Rakshita wanted a passport-size photo in Bengaluru, and we went down the by lanes to see in many years a female photographer clicking it for her and astutely delivering the prints.

Tell how many of you have got the privilege of getting yourself clicked by a female photographer for such a regular work?

The third instance was when we were flying out of Bengaluru to Delhi and were flown in by an all-women crew. All of these are amazing close-to real-life examples that are satisfying that we are coming of age and driving a cultural change to bring equality in what we do together not as what we do basis gender.

BUT still, there are personal instances that I did like to share with you from my wife’s Rakshita storybook. I would quote two instances that I distinctly remember and consider harbingers in promoting a culture of equality.

One incident date back to her professional days where-in whilst she was an HR Manager and pregnant but still harassed by the management in her last working days to complete work and do handover before leaving. This is almost a decade back. I told Rakshita we can engage for legal advice and take people to court for causing this kind of pain, but she advised against it and said this is my problem and I will deal with it. You need to provide moral support and stand by me. She worked twice as hard, at levels more than her pre-pregnancy period. The staff stood by, worked with her to create transition plans and she made it a point to go to the office every single day. Within 3-4 days from here last day, she delivered our baby! She held it strong mentally even if physically it was draining for her, but she waded through it!

I have seen things improve since then but our sensitivity to remove bias must be engrained in our mindset.

Another example is from her entrepreneurial chapter, where-in she was trying to collaborate with a few like-minded females to expand her reach but the response of family with the prospect was “if the male member was to spend that much time they would earn more”. It was like why are you wasting time running around for a small-time revenue, you would be better off just taking care of the child!


She confronted this topic through her women’s network and started an awareness campaign that following dreams, running an entrepreneurial venture is not always about setting up a money-spinning machine. You do this to satisfy your inner dreams, follow your passion and see how you are creating a positive impact on society. In addition to this as she had gone through the cycles of setting up the business, and it has come with ups and downs, she coached her fellow entrepreneurs not to give up too soon too fast. Continue to pursue the dream as it can take years before people start accepting the new normal. The outcome, the person in question today runs her venture and is proud to be a homepreneur!

Again, a problem of mindset! It is very necessary that beyond corporate awareness we ignite a culture of being a change agent at home from within ourselves, our family members. Providing support is not limited to physical or mental but extends beyond that in educating & making us understand that we are here to play a game of equals!!

I also dedicated a virtual half marathon to the cause and completed it on Sunday gone by ! I dedicated this to my sister in US for the tough person she has been living through this changing world and dynamics !!

Ashleigh Barty & Rafael Nadal #Respect

Australian Open-2022 has symbolized that game always wins ! Ever more it has led to creation of history in both women’s and men’s category of singles ! It has been a story of grit , patience and endurance , which I feel are important qualities to imbibe in today’s time , be it personal or professional life.

Ash Barty Vs Danielle Collins Australian Open 2022

  • A game win of straight sets in final 6-3, 7-6 (2) over Danielle Collins
  • Ash Barty won the first set with one service break
  • Ash Barty was down 5-1 in the second set after dropping serve in the second and sixth games. Barty dominated after taking the set to a tiebreaker, racing to a 4-0 lead
  • Barty has ended Australia’s wait for a local women’s champion. By reaching the final, she became the first Aussie in the last match of the tournament since 1980 and by winning the title, she has become the first Aussie since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to lift the title – ending a 44 year wait

Nadal Vs Medvedev Australian Open 2022

  • Rafael Nadal has beaten Daniil Medvedev 2-6,6-7,6-4,6-4,7-5
  • The game lasted for 5 hours and 24 minutes
  • Rafael Nadal won his second Australian Open title and lifted a record 21st Grand Slam trophy
  • Coming from two sets down in the title clash, Nadal rallied to defeat Daniil Medvedev

Public life , especially of sports personalities has lot of influence , impact and expectation generation from society. Carrying the ‘world No. 1, top seed’ targets on her back, and hopes of a nation on her shoulders, Ashleigh Barty became the first Australian player to win the Australian Open singles title since 1978. During the fortnight that ended a 44-year wait, Barty had her full repertoire on display. The kick serve aka “the hopper”. The one-handed slice, two-handed drive backhands. The forehand dripping with heavy topspin. Risky drop shots, opportune volleys, and the all elite overhead. Playing a team sport gave her a sense of belonging, made her a better person, says her Big Bash coach Andy Richards. You have to learn skills to created differentiation lest you end up doing different things as opposed to doing it differently.

The Kick Serve aka “The Hopper”

Watch more here for analysis

The Mightiest !

Doubts of Rafael coming back have surface every now and then. When 2013 began, many people doubted if it was possible for Rafael Nadal to win a Grand Slam again. His knee injury had taken a toll on his health as well as his career. Later half of 2021 , a month and a half after the recovery from foot surgery entering into Australian Open , left him wondering if he would even make it to Melbourne, and a month after he had Covid, which also interrupted his preparations, Nadal is back as champion and for now, the most successful of the lot!!

It is amazing to see how throughout an incredible career the hunger for titles and sheer enthusiasm for the sport is maintained & sustained . No matter what the obstacle is or the advancing of time, winning brings joy of that equivalent to his first win!! We need to have that spirit of hunger in ourselves if we have to keep going!

Mind power over body power. It was true in 2013 & is also now ! It is not possible to simply come back from a career threatening injury and start hitting the big shots. Physical prowess is great but it is Nadal’s mental fortitude that has been the mainstay of his rise to the top of the game. Nadal knows how to train his mind in order to get the results he needs.

Nothing in writing can convey the spirit of the sport and the inviduals who make it glorious.

Yearly Round-up : 2021

It has been another tough year across the board for all of us. The pandemic continues to rage in many forms impacting lives and businesses. Nobody has been left untouched but life must go on !

Personally for me I have been trying to settle down personally & professionally. It has been a year of transition on all fronts. To sum it up

What did the change bring about new ?

Although the pandemic halted all kind of travel for me including daily commute , I have chosen to remove daily commute by staying closer to office or working in remote first set-up to free up time. The time , which we I got back has been helpful in many ways . I will list some here

  • We started a 2 hour weekly history club for kids and have been running it for past 6 months with an average of 6 kids participating in it. It is a interest based club and has been a great source of learning for my wife Rakshita and me !
  • I was able to make small contribution towards securing neighborhood with vaccination drive volunteering
  • I got connected with my long time family friend Sudhanshu & his family. He has been very close to me since US days and this move helped get the connect back !
  • Thanks to people like Vidya Laxman , I have picked up some good relationships back here in Bangalore and the mental strength that has provided cannot be exchanged for anything .
  • I had stopped playing tennis since 2006 and this year I got opportunity to restart , as facilities in my neighborhood as well a ability to connect with again interest based people has helped me get tennis back in my life !
  • My running has been doing good & I am happy that I am able to do it on periodic basis . Numbers matter to me as they help in motivation & retrospection !

Does every change guarantee status-quo ?

The answer is NO , it is difficult to have everything same through a change . Change will impact people around you , sometime more than you ! What is important is to see how you take the change and what you can do about it . Some times we can alter the course , at other times , one needs to let go !

  • Medhansh my kid , could not continue with skating this year . Part as offline school is not available and part because we found it hard to get to a skating ring without sacrificing family time . He was good at it , will he be able to pursue in future , cannot tell ! but for past couple of months he is coaching for Badminton and that is a sport he likes now !
  • Again on another front Medhansh has had to cope up with a new language
  • Rakshita , my wife has had to reinvent her circle to continue on path of pursuing Recipe Dabba
  • I am trying to discover how I see myself pan out in next couple of years standing at 2 decade of working in IT industry !

I could have done less about these changes but as a family , we took a broader call for a better quality of life for everyone. I do have learned that kids adjust best to change ! They are nimble and agile to adapt !

Another year 2022 ?

There can be many ways to see this . From a technical perspective it is a turn on the time dial but how it will pan out will be squarely on us as individuals and teams personally or professionally .

  • Never forget to thank , it has been tough for everyone but gratitude will help all of us go miles!
  • Respect what you have , and the people around you ! Every one is stressed , this is the least we can do be acknowledging the privilege we may command.
  • Plan small ! Big plans are under stress of multitude of variables !
  • Do not find excuse in pandemic , it is pointless . If you control something , then gather will to do it !

I wish every one reading this post a good year ahead ! Stay safe & fit !

https://productcoalition.com/my-deep-work-experiment-dabbling-in-praxis-e7ed2b92cb0d

Async Communication

The topic of asynchronous communication has gained great momentum through the pandemic. The office settings did not help us acknowledge the amount of time we spent in meetings , but through remote working it has become surfaced as a dominant pain that we are in meetings all the time! Terms like focus time , personal hour etc. have gained traction and everybody is trying to find space between blurry lines of work and home. It seems to be a never ending battle.

Personally for me I have not been able to realize the significance of focus time , as for decades we operated with out , going around doing our job. I think that we have a set of things to do , run and drive outcomes and most of the job profiles will not allow for the concepts of focus time to be successful although analytics and software implements will make a recommendation for same. It also confuses other people who want to work , discuss and brainstorm , whether I should reach out or not!

For me following strategy works best

  • Being an early riser , I tend to read and clear my Inbox before starting my regular days
  • Use the concept of urgent and important to determine how to create short term focus [ needs to answered within a day ] versus [ week ] or [ month ] . Beyond that it does not require attention now
  • I try to gamify time management and use asynchronous methods of guiding through my workloads by keeping lean focus area list , leverage negotiation and delegation to increase greater span of work and rest goes to backlog
  • Write first culture is important to drive thought process and discussion. Without writing we can never move forward and will always rely on verbal communication which is meeting
  • Using tools effectively to drive To-Do lists and putting specific blocks on calendar to carry out desired tasks.
  • Maintain to-do list at personal level , group level and 1-1 level to drive agenda at different velocity and focus
  • Create focused chat groups for short term goals and encourage no-meetings but asynchronous communication
  • I re-purpose meeting to cover additional agenda and avoid another meeting
  • Strengthen decision making . It seems that we try to be risk averse and find more people to help take decision because we are either not breaking the problem to manageable levels or are too weary to take a call and move forward.

Above are some of practical everyday ways of managing . Having said that there is no perfect answer and you would still have bad days. In order to focus continue to keep this problem at the core of efficient working so that everybody is reminded not to be pulled into a meeting without a purpose and if pulled should have exit path with some action items [ of which one should be not to have another meeting ]

Good Reads

Book Review – Thinking in Systems: A Primer from Meadows

Everything is a system

I am starting to write book reviews as a new section on my site and happened to pick the first one as Thinking in Systems, by Donella H. Meadows. It is a great way to understand the business methodology called systems thinking. Systems thinking isn’t just for business or manufacturing geeks but can be applied to smaller or broader set of system design , behaviors and processes.

Just like the Theory of Constraints, it’s a powerful principle that can be applied to work, life, or just about anywhere you want to level up. Sharing some insights , which I have been reading and trying to see how they apply while designing architecture and software systems.

The book is a good read to get a grasp of conceptual tools that help solve complex problems. Most of the times you may feel that you have come across the concept but what is important to know and understand is how can you proactively look at using them and solving some of the problems around you. The scale of application from Donella’s point of view is governance , society at large and expansive problem statements that revolve around policy formation but if you re-apply it to smaller problem set , it gives you ideas to devise possible ways to solve , iterate and pivot.

Before we talk about how to apply this theory, here are 3 core principles to understand:

  • Everything is a system: a product, team, market, process, habit, personal routine — even an elephant.
  • To understand (and improve) the system, you have to understand each part, and how the parts connect. Clearly, an elephant is much more than a trunk, legs, and a trumpeting cry.
  • If you can’t see or experience the full system, you need to create models to put it all together. It’s the only way to know your elephant.

Interestingly, she talked about these archetypes as “system traps” and described some ways out of the traps.

Policy resistance. Any change we make seems to have a short term effect on the system but the long term sees the system return to the same behaviors we were trying to change before.

Meadows’ suggestion is that this may be a “let it go” moment – adding more control isn’t going to help, rather find ways to understand and meet the goals of the actors in the system. We often find ourselves in this loop. When you look at engineering metrics or bringing change in ways of working , they all see drag effect after certain point in time. Putting more checks and balances to maintain initial outcome does not help and one needs to let the system respond with lesser policy control and better maturity levels.

Tragedy of the commons. This is a classic where over-use of a common resource ends up destroying the resource.

While you would see many real life examples of this starting from coffee consumption , traffic jams and many other related environmental impacts ,specifically in product development, if we look to engineering as a shared resource, we see that we have a lot of people using this resource somewhat independently. You have marketing making requirements, you have the executive team, you have manufacturing that has needs that are brought to engineering, and customer support also gives input to engineering addressing market issues. Each of these resources looks to optimize the use of the resource and this drives the system archetype of the Tragedy of the Commons where engineering ends up being overburdened and as queuing theory says it’s efficiency drops off dramatically. Therefore controls have to be put in place as antidote that help prioritize and lay down iterative vision that does not lead to this problem. Focus and what is coming next , making use a bounded problem is important. Nothing is infinite !

Drift to low performance. This isn’t as familiar to me, but the idea is that we keep changing performance expectations based on what happened before – and that we see successes as outliers, pushing us to lower and lower targets.

A+ to A++ you would see this come up alot in engineering , how to we become a high performing unit. The problem with the drift is that you do not see it happen and move into a defensive mode with people wanting to protect themselves from damage if they are held to their commitments. Instead of being protectionist , one needs to start accepting the next uncomfortable level of operating and then use that discomfort to up performance to newer benchmarks. Remember if we make up the system and create a drift towards low performance then the whole system will be under-performing.

Escalation. This sounds like the opposite of drift to low performance but is described in the context of two entities, where as drift is about one entity. The classic is a price war or an arms race.

As with drift the best way seems to be not to engage. Difficult to do when you are in the middle of it! but handling escalation and negotiating your way out of it is the best way to handle this aspect within a system. If we create a spiral like some of the other macro situations where escalations have led to large scale conflict , the ability to destabilize the system remains very high . Acknowledging early and remediating is the best way to handle escalations.

Success to the successful. The winner takes all – and then goes on winning. This is why countries have rules about monopolies.

Systems should be designed to always keep flow of talent from engineering point of view. Competition is a good thing for the larger system, even if the competitors are driving to “win.” as it avoids the drift , creates a behavior of active response.

Addiction (shifting the burden to the intervenor). Another classic – if one is good, then one hundred must be better. Another trap where those inside don’t see a way out. Another trap best avoided by not getting into it.

Consider employee performance. Manager is made to provide solution .Necessary training of the employee is made to happen but this leads to growing dependence on manager and decreasing confidence on the employee this compromising self-reliance. Our system design should help propel people towards building capability and strengthen core spine to self-assess and self-correct through de centralize feedback loops.

Rule beating. This felt like a repeat of some of the traps above. Or maybe an example of what happens in sub-systems when operating in these larger archetypes. We have all seen these kinds of situations: I have to do X to get around Y, which causes the system to respond with more Y, so I have to do more X. How many times have I heard clients talk about their favorite workarounds and then their frustration when the rules change under them and their workarounds no longer work – until they find new ones.

Does it remind anybody of tech-debt 🙂

Seeking the wrong goal. This is a familiar trap – “show me how you measure me, I will show you how I will behave.”

The fix is to align the measures with the goals. Not always obvious, but much more valuable. “Be careful not to confuse effort with result or you will end up with a system that is producing effort, not result.”

The book itself offers many feedback loops and archetype that can be put into perspective and definitely recommended for developing a systems view from a mind space perspective. Read more here The System Thinker