Success to the Successful

This archetype describes the phenomena of “the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poor”.

We did not say when!

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When we see the gap widening between the rich and the poor, there is hue and cry and everyone on this side of the story (the poor) wishes it  was not happening to them.

But what causes its systemic nature?  Because this phenomena can happen anywhere.  It does not show respect to any particular boundary.

Let me set a context within which we would appreciate the causality.  So here goes.

Let us assume that today is the first day for two new officers who have just joined the organization.  Officer A and Officer B.  And as their supervisor I now spend the day helping to orientate the officers to the organization.  Since there are two of them, I spend 50% of my time with A.  And 50% of my time with B.

After a few days, Officer B calls in sick.  And as a result he stays away from work for a week.

Since Officer B is not at work, as the supervisor, I continue to divide my time to orientate Officer A.

A week later Officer B comes back and rejoins the workplace.

Since Officer B is back, I now go back to the old routine.  I spend part of my time with Officer A and part of my time with Officer B.

A week later, a project comes along that requires an officer to pay attention to it.

To whom do you think we should delegate the project to?  Officer A or Officer B.  Well, you might say, Officer A is a bit ahead of Officer B.  You are right!  So we delegate the project to Officer A.  And now since the project is with the officer, I as his supervisor continues to divide my time to the project and Officer A.

Two weeks later, the officer submits the project.

As a result of the submission, the project wins a budget for the department.  An amount of BWP 500,000!

Now I am deciding how I should divide the budget between Officer A and Officer B.

Since Officer A owns the project, I decide a lion’s share of the budget goes to Officer A.

How much do you think we should divide between the two?

Well, perhaps BWP350K to Officer A and BWP150K to Officer B.

So what does Officer A do with a budget of BWP350K?

Well, he decides to buy a colour copier machine and an assistant to help him.

How about Officer B? Can he afford the above?  No, you say?  You are right!

Well, let’s move on.  And now since Officer A has a colour copier machine and an assistant, should there be a project that is important, we delegate such projects to Officer A.  And since Officer B has neither, we delegate the lesser important projects to him instead.

So by the end of the year, which officer do you think has accumulated a greater set of experiences within the organization?  Officer A?  You are right.

As a result, when a really important project comes along, that could command millions of returns, who do you think we should delegate it to?  Officer A?  Sure.

Why do we do that?  What are we thinking?

When I invested four days in Officer A, I got a return of 500K.  Now I am thinking , with the 350K that I invested in him, could it perhaps return back millions pula!

Guess what happens, the project when submitted, wins a budget of 3 million pula!

So, in your view, how next should we divide the 3 million pula between Officer A and Officer B?

At the end of one year, who do you think is gaining experience that are deeper for them?  Should we take the story year after year, what happens to A and B after five years.

And so, it is time for a promotion exercise.  Both Officers A and B submits their CV, except whose CV appears more impressive.  Who do you think gets promoted?

Take the story, 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, where do you think Officer A is within the organization?  Where is Officer B?

Yet, when we started the story, was it obvious then that the gap would become this wide?  The gap at the start was not obvious.

Could you see how the story continues to unfold?

Sometimes the archetype may span beyond the lifetime of A and B to one’s children and grandchildren.  In which case, we now have the phenomena of the ‘rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer’ and an economy where we would say the gap is widening.

Yet, when it all started, did we see it creep upon us in this way?  No one saw the narrow gap will make a big difference eventually.  That’s your successful to the successful archetype.

Do you think this story knows when to stop?

Well, it (the archetype) is not designed to do so.

Causal loop diagram - system archetype "S...

Causal loop diagram - system archetype "Success to successful" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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