The benefits of Systems Thinking?
Systems trump goals.
This was fascinating. I’ve long thought that the balance of organizational thinking towards goals versus systems is in need of some reflection. Adams has looked for examples of people who use systems versus those who use goals. In most cases, he’s discovered that people using systems do better and they are more innovative. “The systems-driven people have found a way to look at the familiar in new and more useful ways,” he says in the WSJ.
If you do something every day, it’s a system. If you’re waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it’s a goal.
One should have a system instead of a goal. The system-versus-goals model can be applied to most human endeavours. In the world of dieting, losing twenty pounds is a goal, but eating right is a system. In the exercise realm, running a marathon in under four hours is a goal, but exercising daily is a system. In business, making a million dollars is a goal, but being a serial entrepreneur is a system. Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous pre-success failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction….
Goal-oriented people mostly fail. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, you will constantly think that you are not at your goal until you reach it. If you fall short you’re still a failure. The only way to reach your goal is to lose the 20 pounds. It’s a state of near perpetual failure.
What you really want is a system that increases your odds of success. Even if that system only improves the odds a little it adds up over a long life. In organizations this means, for example, you should care more about the process by which you make decisions than analysis. It also means that you should focus on building a system that evolves, improves, and survives ego. Systems increase the odds of getting lucky. Or, if you want to put it another way, they reduce stupidity.
Goal seekers optimize whereas systems thinkers simplify.