Sunday, August 9, 2015

The root of the matter

What would you do in the next situations?

  1. You have solved this problem already two times, but it comes back a third time.
  2. Doing one thing doesn't help, doing the opposite doesn't help. Doing something in-between doesn't help either,
  3. You have done something and it didn't work. The next time it doesn't. What now?
  4. You don't know what to do. Everybody has different suggestions.
  5. You are tired and disappointed with your success.
  6. You have read it two times. You read it a third time. And you still don't get it.
  7. You can't choose between two attractive options.
  8. You can't choose between two unattractive options.
  9. You are about to solve a problem, but somehow the last step escapes you.
  10. You seem to run around in circles.
In all these cases minus one, you have to take one step behind and find the essence of the situation, the core, the key, the marrow, the basis, the center. Don't you find it? Take one step more behind. To find the core you have to raise your point of view. Didn't you know you are your own drone?

How do you know you found the essence? Because everything becomes suddenly clear. Because you see the whole field from a different perspective. Gestalt psychologists call this field restructuring. In system dynamics the golden rule when you are stuck is: Widen the system.
The essence of every situation opens the story of the situation. Discovering the essence is understanding the system, understanding the story, the story of the system, the system of the story.
System dynamics is the discipline to understand the story of a system. And what is the understanding of the system of a story: getting the plot right.
The central art of communication is communicating the plot. What leads to what? And why and how? And we don't find linear cause-and-effect relationships. Several causes usually lead to several effects. And effects may feed back in the causes. There is no simple cause-and-effect, there is something called causal texture.

This brings me to the one exception: situation 6. In this case, don't find the core, don't go for understanding; find a better text. And if the text is a manual? The only manual? Find a knowledgeable person.
Many texts are difficult or impossible to understand. Why?
  • Some people write about things they themselves don't understand properly.
  • Or they don't care about their writing, because they don't care about their readers.
  • Or they want to hide that they don't want you to understand.
During the Second World War, Churchill had a discussion with Roosevelt and his aide, Harry Hopkins. Suddenly, Churchill turned to Hopkins and told him they were going to offer him a fine British title and they knew already which title he would get. Hopkins was embarrassed. The title Churchill had in mind, he told Hopkins, was Lord Root-of-the Matter. Now that is a compliment for you.
Anyway, go for it. The Root of the Matter. Everything else is a waste of time, a waste of energy, a waste of brain space.

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