Life Lessons: What Dinner Conversations Can Produce (When you dine with systems thinkers)

Drawn on a napkin during a recent dinner I had with a systems expert, you might have to look closely to see what this Causal Loop Diagram (CLD) advises. It considers some of the dynamics involved in working independently and wishing to balance work with family life. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

It connects incoming work and project outputs, time for promotion and what you charge, and the rate of acceptance and completion of jobs. Central to this CLD is the link between reflection rate and number of jobs on your desk – the advice: make sure you always have enough time per job for reflection, and use that time frame as a filter to accept or decline a job (circled link in the centre of the diagram). It is tempting to be flexible on this when you are independent, but the knock-on effects of not paying attention to this important aspect can affect your quality, offer rate, time for family and happiness. A big conversation for a very small napkin…

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