Donald Trump’s problem: He is not a Systems Thinker and doesn’t understand feedback.

One of the all most important characteristic of Systems Thinkers is that they understand the concept of feedback. In simple terms,  he has a very limited grasp of the idea of consequences.

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Feedback is a slightly more complex idea than consequences. Consequences are really what happens to other people when I do something. Feedback is what happens to me when I do things to other people.

Put simply, what goes around, comes around.

One of the startling and alarming aspects of Donald Trump is that he shows absolutely no awareness of the consequences of what he says or threatens to do. He doesn’t understand feedback. So when he threatens that the US will put a 35% tariff on BMW motorcars, he doesn’t appear to understand that this will cause a series of reactions that will ultimately affect the US.

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When he insists that  US motor manufacturers build plants in the US rather than Mexico, he doesn’t understand the feedback affects from the disappointed voters in the Midwest who will find that building motorcar plants does not create through many jobs.

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Nor does he understand that the higher cost structures in the US will feed back into the prices that US consumers must pay for motorcars manufactured in the US.

I could go on.

Another key concept that Trump will not understand because he is not a Systems Thinker is the concept of systems archetypes. The archetypes explained to us that there are some common systemic structures that produce highly predictable results.

One of those archetypes is known as Escalation and it explains that if someone who is powerful threatens someone else who powerful, the result will be a reciprocal, but possibly bigger, threat.

A highly simplified idea of Escalation is set out in this Causal Loop Diagram.

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The + sign at the end of the arrows indicates an increase.  An important aspect of a CLD is that you don’t go around once. You keep going round and things keep getting worse.

Hence Escalation.

Ultimately, it will be feedback from Trump’s behaviours that will bring about his fall.

This is an example of feedback and it’s going to keep happening.

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Summer Zervos listens as her attorney Gloria Allred speaks during a news conference announcing the filing of a lawsuit against President-elect Donald Trump in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

 

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