Here We Go Loop-De-Loo
Recently, I've been observing a lot of real-life "labs" in Consequence 101. People I know have been receiving feedback on their past actions. For some of them, their actions have been occurring for months and years. But luck ran out, fate caught up, and consequence won out.
I'm not going to pass judgment on these individuals or on their actions. But it is a good lesson in systems thinking when it's applied to human behavior. I've talked about systems thinking a ton over the past couple of years. Most of the time, it has been in the context of organizations and accomplishment. However, systems thinking applies equally well to how people act.
I love to watch people, and I especially love to watch people reacting to other people. I was recently in a meeting where a professional was passionately trying to get his point across. He was coming across somewhat abrasively, and the body language around the room told me this was not the first exchange where this individual overstepped his bounds. Postures stiffened; facial expressions became defensive; responses were curt. But this individual was missing a vital piece of the feedback loop. And so his output (behavior) became an input for the inevitable next exchange sometime in the future.
The feedback loop of systems thinking is highly consistent. You can occasionally trick it with a rogue input, and the system will forgive you. But if you keep pushing the system with bad inputs, the feedback loop does catch up, and when the system pushes back, it pushes back hard. I've mentioned Peter Senge's Beer Game before. When the retailer, wholesaler, and manufacturer see the patterns in the greater system, they realize how their bad decisions led to horrible consequences.
What about you? Are your decisions and behaviors showing up in various feedback loops? How are people responding to your actions and words? When/how will the feedback loop catch up to you? Can you reverse the trend of your behavioral system before it's too late? Trust me, I've been on the receiving end of systems thinking feedback loop spanking. It's easier just to pay attention to the system when it gives you a gentle nudge the first time.