Information on systems thinking and how to use the systems and habits approach to improvement.
Being proactive is a buzzword that goes around from time to time. It usually comes up when someone thinks that a person is just sitting around waiting for problems to surface before they take action.
Being proactive usually aligns with working hard and getting in front of problems. But too often it just becomes another cliché that can be used whenever someone wants to criticize another person.
One of the obstacles for someone working to try and improve to reach a goal is burnout. Burnout happens when you use up energy and motivation to make things happen but then slowly start having less and less energy and motivation to keep going.
Many times this happens to me when I am using high energy but seeing a lower return on the investment of my time and effort. I assume the harder I work the more I will get in return or the further along the journey I will get.
All of us are influenced by many factors. Everything we do has more to it than we probably realize.
Take your morning routine. Yes you wake up, do what you have to do to get ready for work or school and then start your day.
Knowing yourself is important. We have to learn about our strengths and weaknesses and our tendencies to act in specific scenarios.
Some people tend to hesitate before they jump into something. They know they need to do something so they plan and plan. They evaluate. They think about the problem at a high level.
Continuous improvement is the opposite of change for the sake of change yet many people confuse the two. They assume constant flux and change is the same as continuously improving upon a process, but it most certainly isn’t the same.
In a business environment this could be similar to saying that every time a company has to create a motor for a car they try something different. This is change for the sake of change. Continuous improvement is to develop a standard process and look to constantly evaluate the process to see if there are better ways. Then we test those ways and if they do result in a better process, we standardize that.
We all use habits and reflexes throughout our daily lives. We take a behavior or a thought and we produce that behavior or thought over and over again.
But most people have no idea that this happens. Instead they focus so heavily on events that they miss the patterns they create. In effect they create powerful underlying reflexes that determine their life, yet they are distracted by the one-offs in life and they don’t even realize it. This leaves them feeling powerless when they have, in fact, incredible power to create the patterns that they choose.
Yesterday I read an article online about employee disengagement. Some researchers searched for reasons why employees are disengaged at work.
They interviewed workers all over the world and then summarized their findings. They said employees feel undervalued. They said employees want credit when they do a good job instead of management jumping all over mistakes but ignoring successes.
Everyone looks at the world a little differently. Our beliefs, experiences, and upbringings all play a role in how we view the world.
Some may view the world as being led by an invisible force. They envision a person up above making all decisions. A traffic light turns red right as we approach it and this deity must be the reason. We get a good grade on a test in school and it must be due to him or her.
In business we often form multilevel systems to manage the operations of the business. A sales person at a retail store is responsible for doing the work, in this case selling the product. They spend all of their time trying to get customers to buy the products that the business sells.
A level above the sales person is the store manager. They oversee multiple sales people to make sure that they address underperforming sales people and coach them up. They make sure that the team is performing at an optimal level and doing what they can to motivate employees and teach them how to be successful at doing the job.
When we all proceed through life, we are building structures in our lives that we are often unaware of. We make decisions that we barely think about and then make those decisions over and over again.
Those decisions start to form patterns. These patterns signal a structure that is in place that makes it more likely to keep following the pattern rather than break free from it.
Utilizing the systems and habits approach to improvement we tend to focus much of our energy on the next step in the process. We have a vision of the end result but our focus remains on the next step in the journey, not the destination.
This is different from a lot of improvement strategies. More often you will hear about vision boards and creating SMART goals that encapsulate what it is you hope to achieve.
Patterns are very important to systems thinkers. In order to understand complex systems, we often start by examining the visible patterns to start to figure out what is going on.
We aren’t likely to see the deeper levels of the systems immediately so we want see what the system regularly creates. What the system regularly creates then tips us off to the invisible structures and mental models controlling the system.
Many of us who are naturally competitive constantly evaluate our own success and failures against our counterparts. We see others and use their achievements as measuring sticks.
But this sets us up for unhappiness because there will always be someone doing it better. We can’t possibly be the best at everything. Even the most successful people on the planet are successful in a few select areas not in everything.
We all view the world in different ways but one theme that I seem to come across is the notion that people are irrational. People aren’t logical and thoughtful they are emotional and petty.
Many of us see the world around us this way and we can find examples all over the place. We can point to some relative who makes poor decisions or a celebrity that seems to have it all but still gets caught in a scandal ruining the great career he or she spent years building. We can think of people we worked for and drivers on the road.
I have a policy that I employ in my own person pursuit of improvement but also when I manage others. I have used it in many instances and it guides my philosophy of management.
The idea is that we develop an accurate assessment of our strengths and weakness. Then we work to get the weaknesses to an acceptable level and then put all of our other energy towards leveraging our strengths.
This website has been developed to help you understand the power of systems and habits in your life and then take action to build the person that you want to become. There are over 70 free articles, 1 free eBook, and free videos and links to other system and habit experts.