How would you apply the Systems Mindset to your personal life?

The Systems Mindset comes from Sam Carpenter's book. He talks about looking at your life from an elevated perspective and fixing each individual system so you can make your primary system work well. The systems in my life would be education, relationship, health and fitness. Does anyone understand how this applies to making my personal life better?


The Systems Mindset would work for your personal life.

Consider the following quotes from Sam Carpenter's book "Work the System" :

"Unhappy people are not in control of their lives because they spend their days coping with the unintentional bad results of unmanaged systems. Happy people are in control of their lives, spending their days enjoying the intentional good results of managed systems."

..."each of us is a system of systems. But here’s the rub: some of them—each of which, always remember, can be visualized as a distinct entity—are headed in oblique directions, confusing our efforts to reach our conscious goals."

So basically, we act as Project Engineers who constantly work to tweak and perfect the various systems that make up the various aspects of our lives. To move forward in an integrated manner rather than "firefighting" or constant crisis management.

We start this by taking a stance "above and apart" from the issues so that the distance gives us the detachment to study the various systems that we are part of.

Think about the 3 main documents that Sam Carpenter talked about in the book which he says is vital for business.

These are :-
1. Strategic Objectives
2. Operating principles
3. Working procedures

In your personal life, your strategic objectives would be your ultimate purpose or life mission. Operating principles would be the principles you use to make decisions and should be congruent with your strategic objectives. And working procedures would be how you do any specific "thing".

For instance, if one of your strategic objectives is to live with integrity, your guiding principle for that would involve asking if a particular action is congruent with your sense of integrity. Then one of the working procedures for your relationships would deal with honest communication.

Eg. in your "Late going home" procedure, you might have the following steps : 1. Call spouse 2. Inform true reason 3. Inform what time you can be expected back.

"Inform true reason" would be congruent with your objective. You would communicate the true reason and not an excuse.

The above is a rather simplistic example but this entire approach can be useful to all areas of our lives even if we don't create detailed working procedures as we would for businesses.

This is how the Systems Mindset can be applied to our personal lives. It would help us identify our values and live more in line with them. And to live more effectively and efficiently too.

Answered 9 years ago

Everything has a root cause. Let me run you through a personal example.

I live with my girlfriend and we used to have problems with not having dishes. Instead of looking at the symptom (no dishes) I decided to look at the system (the dishwashing cycle in our apartment).

Dishes start in the cupboard, are taken out as needed during the day, go to the sink, are cleared to the dishwasher, are cleaned, and then are returned to the cupboard.

In our case, the problem was in dishes not returning to the sink or piling up in the sink. The fix was to make sure dishes are in the dishwasher at the end of the day - this was the "SOP" I added to our life as a result of this problem.

The result? No more dish problems.

Answered 9 years ago

Definitely! If you look at your life like a franchise, you'd take each of the systems you described above (which are large chunks) and break them down. In a franchise, you'd have customer service, sales, marketing, production, administrative, etc. - these correlate to your categories. Start with each system, define your anticipated outcome and then you can create systems to achieve those outcomes. Example: Relationship (I'm assuming personal). Let's say the outcome is "Feel fulfilled". Tough one, because feelings are subjective. But you can make this into a system by identifying what's important to you about relationships, and making sure those values are fulfilled every day, which will result in relationships being fulfilling.

So a system to create a fulfilling relationship might be:

1. Define what's important to me (values)
2. Identify actions I can take every day to fulfill those values.
3. Do the action items (sub process)

That's just one example. Hope that helps.

Answered 8 years ago

Systems usually include DFDs or UML diagrams, which are used to communicate with the relevant stakeholders, i.e., users and developers, to ensure that they accurately reflect the system under consideration. The diagrams may be changed several times following feedback from stakeholders until all agree that they accurately represent the system. Thus, when you approach your whole life from a systems mindset, you can begin to isolate what is not working, find ways to tweak and change it, turn it into a repetitive process, and then do what works, repeatedly, instead of what does not work – and in fact, cause it to work extremely well.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 3 years ago

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