It seems we are obsessed with results. We conduct life as if results are the only things that matter. To most results by any means are results just the same. We manage by results, we define problems by results, we define our job by results, we make individuals accountable for results, we cause harm to others in the pursuit of results, we cheat and lie to show results, and we even define our self by the results we get. Just look around and you will see that results—and getting them now—are all that matters.
Correspondingly we are blinded by our single-minded focus of attention to results. This fixation actually keeps us from understanding that results are the effects of a system or process. We don’t see systems or processes we only see results. Any given system will produce an array of many different results that themselves will vary over time, making things appear more complex. Thus the complexity of our world seemingly increases as the number of results we attend to increases.
You would think that with our obsession for results we’d know how to analyze and interpret the outcomes (i.e. the results) we get. But as a goat would say, na!
We are so reactionary to results that we haven’t the inquisitiveness, the interest or the time to invest in understanding the associated cause system—to learn systems thinking and statistical thinking. Consequently we are unable to understand the results we get, irrespective of whether they are favorable or unfavorable. Misreading and misinterpretation of outcomes/data is epidemic!
When results are favorable we believe we are in control of things and thus expect more of the same by doing more of the same. But, when results are unfavorable we simply exhort others to get better results. We set higher goals and raise standards thinking that this will lead to better results—after all isn’t everyone concerned about results! Using results to get better results is clearly not reflective of sound logic; yet it is a popular practice. America’s focus on raising standards and instituting accountability measures for results in education and the widespread use of management-by-measurable-objective in business illustrate this point.
Again what’s missing is an understanding that results are the effects of a process/system. Therefore without a method for learning about the system itself a hope for better results is merely wishful thinking. It is not reflective of systems thinking, statistical thinking and critical thinking. Absent of this thinking, action taken could not be based on a critically thought out plan. I am reminded of the adage, a narrow focus of attention leads to a larger measure of heedlessness.
Why do we continue in this way, making things worse?