G.E.A.R. U.P. to Make a Difference Part 1: Is this a system breakdown?

July 26, 2012 — Leave a comment

Systems ThinkingI’ve been thinking a lot lately about systems and patterns. Some of you may think that isn’t relevant to you because you like to take things as they come and be more fluid in your approach to life and projects. But I think these are relevant things for everyone. I mean, even the most artistic and creative people in the world have “ways” of doing things that help them accomplish what they do. If you look back over your life events and situations you’d probably see patterns emerge from below the surface. It’s worth the time to dig a little into your life and see what patterns you could see. Maybe even involve some people close to you to help see things you’re blind to.

We all have patterns in our life and unconsciously or with full awareness, we build systems around our lives for how we “do life.” The question is – how good are our models? The models we use in our lives will ultimately determine if we can effectively utilize all of our talents and abilities. i.e., our models determine if we are the best “me” we can be. Two examples that stand out to me as proof of this are science and advertising.


  1. Evolution. This may be a touchy subject for many, but at its core this is just a model for trying to give us a way to understand how our world became what it is today and maybe understand why things are happening as they are today and where they may go in the future. The relevant questions with this model are, among many others: Is this model fundamentally correct? Is it complete? Does the data support the theory? Is there any data that we have which seem to break the model? If so, do we alter the model in some way to then incorporate that data, study the data to make sure we understand it correctly or completely toss the model? My point is this: science uses models like we all do in our everyday lives – to give us a framework of how to understand and discuss complex topics. Sometimes those models generate controversy and sometimes prove to ultimately be wrong, but it is important to have them so we can continue the dialogue and improve our understanding.
  2. Advertising. I don’t remember where I first read it, but there was a study done on advertisement creation that tested the idea of “open creativity” versus “structured creativity.” Basically two groups of people were asked to create a compelling ad. One group was told to create an ad and were given no limitations. They could create whatever, however they wanted. The other group was asked to do the same, but with the limitation that they had to use one of the “templates” for ads given. These were templates that we still see used today. Things like headers which read “21 best ways to get 6 pack abs…plus one.” The two groups were both randomly selected from the population and not from advertising backgrounds so it was relatively safe to say they were on roughly equal footing of capability. The test was that both ads were actually put out into the market with a number to call and see which one generated the most response. Which one did? The one that followed a known pattern.

Systems, patterns and models are things that can be time consuming and may even be laborious for many. I happen to like them. But what do you think? Do you have systems for how you do things? Are their models you use for how you make it through life? And more importantly, do you know what they are and how they affect you? Do you test them and refine them with time? And I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask, how are you passing them on to others so collectively we all become better?

That’s all I’ve got for now, but in the next post I’ll give one of my systems in hopes that you can help me break it and make it better.

Noel Coleman

Noel Coleman

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