Finding the faulty component – in us

Last night at 10 o’clock, I was paying my bills. This isn’t a big deal, except that payday was 10 days ago. You see, I’m the kind of person who needs systems in my life to help me do the things I need to do. My system broke down. The trigger didn’t work.

The current trigger is to write “pay bills” in really big letters at the top of the day in my planner on payday. The systems engineers out there know that good triggers are essential to ensuring that a function is performed. Clearly, my trigger is inadequate.

We are all constantly finding places in our lives and our businesses where there are triggers, relationships, components, and other elements that aren’t working. We have the education in systems engineering and the tools in CORE and GENESYS, so why aren’t we correcting these problems, and effectively changing our world through systems engineering?

If I had taken the time to model the current state of my life in CORE, I could go back to that model, find the function that isn’t getting performed, identify the trigger, then examine the model to see how I could replace the ineffective trigger with an effective one. Not only would I find a fix for my bill-paying problem, but I could make sure that it would work in all of the other parts of my life. These are simple concepts to SE’s, at least as they are applied in the office. Applying them outside the office is another thing.

More and more, I’m seeing our clients apply systems engineering principles and tools to areas outside the traditional areas. I’ve seen models of customer support processes, a meta-model of the team systems engineering process, and even heard a client talk about how he was thinking of using CORE to model a wedding that was coming up in the family.

One of the common threads in these non-traditional uses for CORE is the high level of “life” in these models – both in that they are constantly changing processes and that they require a large amount of human interaction.

Humans are incredibly complex components. We don’t respond to an input or trigger exactly the same way every time. If we did, then having a note in my calendar to pay my bills would be enough; it used to work but now it doesn’t. However, this only enhances the value of applying systems engineering to these living processes. Having the entire system modeled properly can account for the wide range of human behaviors, and as people, personalities, and skills change, the model can be adjusted accordingly.

One of the things I love about working at Vitech is the opportunity to learn and live systems thinking. More and more I find myself applying the systems thinking to my life. It’s living, always changing, and there is always room to improve the system.

It’s time to refine my system. It’s time to define a trigger I can’t ignore. Maybe I’ll create an obnoxious alert on my cell phone…

Leave a Reply