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Organisational Behavioural Traits

Organisational behavioural traits are recurring patterns that are the storylines of systems in the world.

The theory behind these traits is that situations with unwanted results or side effects can be mapped to common behavioural models. Given the knowledge available about these organisational behavioural patterns, problem solvers, in general, can apply their principles to help diagnose a situation and plan a recovery. 

Understanding these traits can be an important part of proactive planning. Unintended consequences in these behavioural traits are well-known. A variety of strategies can be tested through the lens of the behavioural trait to identify potential pitfalls and address them in the design stages when they are easier to tackle.


Fixes that Fail

A fix effective in the short-term creates side effects for the long-term behaviour of the system and may result in the need of even more fixes.



 The escalation archetype is where each player can make own decisions. However, when both players try to maximize their output they can get into a loop where each player will try harder and harder to surpass the opponent.


Tragedy of the Commons

Multiple agents acting in rational self interest escalate their actions such that they deplete a shared, erodible resource.


Defines the behavior that occurs when there is a gap between the current state and the desired state.

Fishing Boat
Image by Joshua Earle


When two (internal) entities compete among themselves for limited resources and support, the success of an entity depends on the support and resources it gets and thus it affects the other entity.


To improve performance of a system, more efforts are made, However, after some time the performance reaches a limit, leading to the performance levelling off, declining or even crashing.

Pink Car


Image by Danique Tersmette

Decision-makers fail to identify the fundamental solution early and are subjected to accumulated side effects as they resort to quick remedial solutions.


Invest in a firm's resources and capabilities to grow. When growing action is there, it increases the demand, but the firm's performance level acts as a limit to that growth.

Lemon Tree
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