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Learn to dive deeper into the underlying system structures

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

Learn to dive deeper into the underlying system structures

Scott Miker

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.

But within that morning routine are numerous activities.  These activities change based on situational factors, if today you have to leave early or woke up late.

Most people never really see past what they did today.  They don’t explore their routines to see that they often follow repeated patterns.  They just see the anomalies, not the regularities.

So when problems come up in life, we naturally just look at that one-time problem and look for a quick solution to that problem.  Unfortunately this often means ignoring the patterns and looking for symptomatic solutions.

We just want to cure the discomfort around the problem.  We don’t actually dive into the systems that created the environment where that problem could form and thrive.  Therefore, we run into variations of that same problem over and over but in enough disguise where we think they are different every time.

Just as we follow patterns for our morning routines, our problems often follow patterns as well.  If we ignore those patterns and the underlying systems we are more likely to keep repeating our mistakes.

In Corporate Sigma: Optimizing the Health of Your Company with Systems Thinking by Anwar El-Homsi and Jeff Slutsky, the authors say, “Reacting to an emergency to minimize injury is certainly the right thing to do.  However, it is not a solution to the problem unless the system is addressed and modified to minimize or eliminate recurrence.  The bigger picture emerges when we look deeper into events and event patterns and expose the system structure that created them.  Revealing and understanding system structures is the key distinction between system thinkers and non-system thinkers and enables a proactive rather than reactive approach to problem solving and policy development.”

They go on to say, “Events are local short-term snapshots of problems encountered in isolated areas or with certain people or groups in the organization: event patterns are the longer-term trends encountered throughout the organization, company and beyond.”

We can take the same approach to areas of our personal life that we want to improve.  When we see problems, we can stop and observe the patterns in order to better understand the underlying system that produces and repeats the problems that we see. 

We can also look at many aspects of our lives, such as our morning routines, to start to gain a better understand of how many factors come together to form something we do every day without much thought.  Then we can start to tweak these routines in order to create an output that is more aligned with our goals and dreams in life.