Get an *AHA!* for all your problems
The true cause of your problem is often NOT what you thought!
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article on my discovery that exercise does little to help you lose weight but what you eat will. More interestingly, I found that it was alcohol that was the deal breaker, and by curbing my alcohol intake, I had managed to move my average weight down from close to 90kg to 85kg. As of today, my average weight is 84kg. Yes, not much movement from 85 to 84 over the fortnight, but that is because I am still testing the alcohol hypothesis by varying my intake patterns. The hypothesis seems to be holding out - at least for me! But this article is not to report ongoing results, but to share how I stumbled on the alcohol attribution in the first place!
Applying systems thinking
It all began when I was creating our online course on systems thinking. Since maintaining the right weight, and reducing body mass, are all systems, I decided to use that as the example in the course. In order to identify the centres of gravity of the system, I had to identify the drivers of the system, and then connect all the drivers together in a diagram. This was what the diagram looked like at the end of the exercise...
You will notice, as I did, that while "stress" is the biggest driver - and hence a centre of gravity of the system - both "lifestyle" and "alcohol intake" also garnered many connections, just one less connection than stress. These two are therefore also centres of gravity. And suddenly everything fell into place for me! That was my "Aha!" moment! Stress I am managing, so that has come down significantly. Lifestyle I am also managing so as to keep the stress level down. What I now have to do is to manage the alcohol intake. And that is how I have come to uncover the effects of alcohol on my weight, and the experiments I am now doing to bring it to under 80kg!
New Systems Thinking
So what did I do here? At Growth Consulting, we call this New Systems Thinking. It is "new" because we want to be different from the established understanding of systems thinking made popular by Peter Senge et al. We call this "new" because this was something that we designed in-house to be used with our strategic thinking course. We call this "new" because, up until the time we designed this, there was no literature and use of this method. However, we are very happy to note that since then, others have also devised this way of mapping systems, of seeing the interconnection of drivers, and of identifying centres of gravity (even if they were not so called). To see where else it was used, do watch this TED talk video by Eric Berlow...
So in summary, here is how you too can find out the centres of gravity of your situations, and come up with the simple holistic solution.
(1) Identify your system
(2) Determine the drivers
(3) Classify drivers as "reinforcing" or "hindering" the system (do this only when you have completely identified all drivers)
(4) Connect drivers together
(5) Identify the centre(s) of gravity (the driver(s) with the most number of lines coming into and out of it)
(6) Determine your holistic solution
Every so often, you will find that the true cause of your situation is different from what you initially thought was happening. You will also find that your solution will be simpler than when you first imagined it to be.
So if you want an AHA! moment in solving your problems, dive deeper using the New Systems Thinking. You will be surprised at how easy it is to do, and more importantly, how easy it is to solve your problem.