This post is about Circular Reasoning (Wikipedia: “Begging the Question” or petitio principii). Ofcourse you and I are very familiar with it. Haven’t heard this lately: our operational costs are too high but we don’t have time to reduce them because we need to do our work, so our operational costs are too high, but we don’t have time to reduce them because we need to do our work, so our operational costs are too high, but we … Now look at the figure of the two guys busy pushing a wagon. It says it all, doesn’t it? You and I are caught in THE “fire-fighting” trap! So what is the catch here? It is all very simple. First of all, be aware that the circle is there, it isn’t going to go away and so you will have to find one or more ways to (temporarily) break it. So if we analyze our circular system a bit more, we can discover there is an archetype in it just as mentioned in Mental Model Musings as the “Shifting the Burden” archetype. The archetype shows two interacting circles that represent the Circular Reasoning lock-in. You know you have a problem symptom, and you know there is a fundamental solution to it, but because that takes too long, you rather choose the other circle. By doing that, you choose the symptomatic solution to the problem. This induces an unwanted side effect. It makes that choosing the fundamental solution the next time will be even more difficult. So now you’re caught in a never-ending spiral. There is however a way out. First of all, you need to see that you’re caught inside this system and show strong, very strong commitment to break the circular reasoning. Second, you will need some time (a little) to study or analyze why you came into this circular reasoning. Chances are, the “delay” caused by creating fundamental solutions is the main catalyst to avoid coming into the fundamental circle. In fact, it probably is just fear what is blocking us here: fear for delay or fear for incompetence or fear to learn something new or … So you need to try to make it into this circle at least once and gather proof that some things have fundamentally become better. Give it a chance. Btw, in Senge’s 5th discipline these are among the principles of the Learning Organization. So go home, do your homework, stop hurrying (“we have no time for fundamental solutions”) and start learning (“we reserve a little time for fundamental improvement”) and start taking some initial risk (“we need to learn new ways of working so in the beginning there will be learning-style riscs we have to take”). Good luck to all of you wanting to try this at home.
November 13, 2011