Causal loops

Reveal how delays in causal loops can help you

What are Causal loops

Causal loops are elements in a language call system thinking. There are two types of causal loops, balancing loops and reinforcing loops. I already wrote about the benefit of using those two loops for your organization.

Figure A

Casual loops are models that represent reality, but like any other models, they are not reality. Although we are distinguishing between balancing and reinforcing loops, many models are combinations of balancing and reinforcing loops together.

Causal loops

What are delays in causal loops

In many cases, it will take time for one variable to impact another viable. For example, if employee performance feedbacks are given by many people and are captured in a system that the manager sees every quarter, we can have a maximum of three months delay between the feedback and when the manager sees it. If feedbacks are immediately given to the manager by the employee peers, there isn’t any delay in the system.

Delays are widespread in loops. They are so common that I encourage you to validate more than once if a loop is missing a delay. Ignoring or being unaware of the delay, create a deceptive loop that will generate damage in the future, or prevent you from finding a cause of a problem.

Delays, especially in human systems, are hidden. When the loop describes a warehouse or car production line, it is easier to identify the delays. When the loop is dealing with providing better customer support, the human factor of the loop makes delays harder to find, as they impact human variables.

The positive impact of delays

If you are aware of known delays in a system, you can be prepared for them and be successful. The most common example is the time it takes since a business starts until the company is successful. When you are aware of this delay, you won’t give up quickly as others.

Once you identify a delay in a loop, you find a golden opportunity to improve the system. If you’ll find ways to reduce the delay time or eliminate it completely, the system is going to thank you by increasing the overall performance.

Since we are talking about businesses and management, delays that won’t impact you (or will have minimal impact on you), but will cause negative impact to your competitors might be very beneficial for you. For example, introducing a new regulation that you are ready to deal with, but it will cause delay for your competitors to be complaint might serve you very well. Keep in mind that it is almost impossible to predict how a change to the system will impact the system.

Negative impacts of delays

Delays introduce one of the main challenges in systems. As the delay between cause to effect takes more time, it is harder for people to associate the cause with the effect. Instead, they will associate the effect with a symptom that occurred. Usually, this symptom will be a variable exist in the loop between the case and the effect. In most cases, the symptom will be the first variable after the delay.

Keep in mind that in a loop there might be several delays that make it even ten times harder to identify the root cause of a problem. Every time that you identify a delay in a loop, make sure that the delay is not depicting false identification of a cause to a problem.

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