Over the next few posts we're going to broach the subject of self-management. This is going to take us into the realm of beginning to make conscious, systematic decision about our life and work. Self-management is not so much about the decisions themselves, as it is about the parameters and priorities that we'll use to guide those.
Every well operating system is balanced. Look up balance in the dictionary and many definitions and uses can be found. One I particularly like is; The power or means to decide. If our system is balanced, we maintain the opportunity to decide. If any system, whether mechanical, electrical, celestial, etc. is unbalanced, it is also typically unstable. Unstable systems typically lead to failure. This failure can be gradual erosion in performance, a sudden breakdown or even a catastrophic event. Many systems that become unstable will not actually fail based on the instability, but they become more sensitive to other upsets, and when these occur, they fail as a result. Understanding the key parameters that keep a system balanced is an important factor in performance.
Simplistic systems are focused on a very limited set of functions. Typically these systems operate in a closed-loop fashion. Inputs come in, get processed in some limited fashion to create an output and then either complete or repeat. There is little or no feedback, and no adaptability. More complex systems incorporate open-loop control, feedback and a myriad of processes based on inputs and/or outputs, with the ability to change or modify processes. Complex systems will establish priorities based on various parameters, either inputs, output,or process related. These priorities will help a system function efficiently and effectively based on it's real-time environment. Our lives are very complex systems, that operate in a complex system of systems called life. Understanding priorities in light of the intended functionality of a system are essential to creating a stable, effective system.
Very few systems have the luxury of operating in a complete vacuum. Most systems must interact with their environment, other systems, or both. How a system performs and maintains these interactions is crucial to how well any system will operate and survive. Many breakdowns in complex systems of systems will likely begin with an improper interaction between two or more component systems, rather than the complete failure of one or the other. This concept of identifying, and managing, interactions is a crucial element in our individual, and organizational, life and work.
I'd like to hear your feedback on these three critical systems elements of self-management. Have you mastered any of these in your own life and work? Do you see these in your daily lives? Would mastery of any or all of these help your life and work?