We spend much of our time in business measuring quantities or stocks, when often what we should be looking at are flows – the processes that affect those quantities, for good or ill.
In fact, we’d learn more from looking at how those flows are changing – are they speeding up or slowing down? – and by asking why, create ourselves more options and opportunities to improve things.
We also tend to focus too much on stocks that are concrete (profit, inventory, capacity) and ignore the abstract (delight, autonomy, morale). Partly because the abstract is harder to measure, partly because we think they don’t matter.
As we all know, what gets measured, gets managed. The trouble is that managing the wrong things distorts the system. Until it no longer serves the purpose we originally envisaged. Or until it breaks.
If you’re looking for a different way of explaining – and re-designing – your world, this book is an excellent introduction to systems thinking.
This week I’ll be sharing some ideas from the book, as they apply to the systems we are all trying to create – our businesses.