Suppose you are very stressed at work. It's possible that you have to numb yourself when you get home with alcohol, junk food or even exercise. This poor nutrition before bed seems relaxing at the time but creates other problems like weight gain, addiction, or injuries. It's easier to take the Quick Fix then do the hard stuff of owning your stress level at work, exercising realistically and eating well. That takes too long. This system of choices and non-choices, (called "Fixes That Fail") is a very common pattern and can be applied to many things. In the book The Systems Thinking Fieldbook, Peter Senge and Daniel Kim, among others, created a set of Archetypes (common patterns) that can be used to ask better questions about situations. In most situations, one archetype does not fit exact real problems (usually a combination), but it is useful for figuring out great questions to ask. Here are the questions to think about in a "Fixes that Fail" situation from an article by Daniel Kim:
- Have actions been taken to respond quickly to a crisis without much consideration of long-term consequences?
- Have similar actions been taken in the past in response to similar crises? What usually happens?