Day 18 of 21: Systems thinking, yawn

Want to quickly shut down a conversation at a party? Start talking about systems thinking. Most people will politely excuse themselves.

That’s why I don’t bring up systems thinking when I first meet someone. I politely wait at least two minutes. Kidding, mostly.

I don’t recall when I started thinking in systems or in structural ways, but I can remember being a senior in high school working at a fast food restaurant.

And when we got busy, we really got busy. So busy, as a fry cook, it was impossible to keep up at times. The orders appeared too quickly on my monitor, and I had to manage multiple fryer buckets while also moving around my work station to get items.

But then I had an insight. Why do I need to simply react? I can change the system I work under. I will analyze what I can do to prepare for the rush, and then when the rush hits, I’ll be ready for it.

As a small example, the chicken tenders were in the refrigerator, or wait, was it the freezer? Hmm… I think it was the refrigerator. Or was it the freezer? Wait a minute, I think it was the refrigerator. Oh, let’s drop it, since it’s not what we need. Let’s just say refrigerator.

I would normally go to the refrigerator, grab the right number of chicken tenders, and then walk to the fryer. Then I’d put them into the fryer.

But I had a new idea! Why waste time counting the right number of chicken tenders? I could save time by improving the system. I then started putting the right number of chicken tenders into small containers. That way, if someone ordered it, I could quickly grab a single container and skip the counting step, skip the transferring the tenders one by one, and thus save time.

Sure, I couldn’t control the flow of orders. But I could be more prepared for the giant wave coming my way.

And in my hypnotherapy practice, I can’t control all the variables. But by thinking in systems, and also thinking about bigger structures, I can manage the change process in a more comprehensive manner.

As for structures, it’s about understanding the client’s issue in a deeper way, so I don’t get distracted by the bring shiny objects we talk about. So I don’t get distracted by the details that don’t affect the change. And instead I can focus on the elements that do matter.

This isn’t an easy thing to do. But in my opinion, that’s the job of a hypnotist, to learn how to separate the details that matter from those than distract.

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