special causal loops

Chapter 8 of the book ; Natural Learning 

Systems thinking in a learning school 


by: Jan Jutten 

 Translated in English by Brainpartner


This book is not available anymore.  

To read chapter 8 in Dutch, click here:

Chapter 8

Archetypes: special causal loops

“I believe that one of our greatest challenges, after so many centuries of separation and  fragmentation, is   to  discover new ways   of thinking and sensing that allow us  to   comprehend the  whole.  This is still uncharted territory, and it requires the earnest explorations of many of us. “

Margaret Wheatley

8.1. Introduction

One of the most important insights that systems thinking has yielded is the fact that certain patterns keep coming back repeatedly. Just as literature has a number of general themes and storylines, with other people and in different situations, systems have a limited number of patterns. We call them archetypes. 

If we take the trouble to depict a large number of problems that occur in a school in causal loops, we can conclude that many of these loops are remarkably similar. Often problems cause us a feeling of ‘… We’ve been through this before…’ or ‘…… there you have it again….’ Usually, we are dealing with an archetype. 

Archetypes are common combinations of reinforcing and stabilizing loops.

Each archetype has its own theme, a story, a pattern of behavior and a structure. Each archetype also involves a number of effective interventions. Archetypes are also called ‘classic system stories’. 

We also see the same type of system stories in schools.

An example: all kinds of things happen all the time in a school that we want to respond to quickly. We often take little or no time to ask ourselves what is really going on. We want a quickdiagnosis and a quick solution! In many cases, we see that the quick solution does more harm than good in the longer term. We then discover that the effects of our behavior (certainly in the longer term) are very different from our intenties. With the very best of intentions, we often cause damage, without even realizing it!

The advantage of working with archetypes is that they are key to our ability to see structures, both in our personal lives andin that of the school. They teach us that not all (management) problems are unique. Behind many seemingly complicated problems lies an elegant simplicity. As we learn to recognize archetypes better, we are also better able to take decisionsthat can actually solve our problems.   The main purpose of understanding archetypes is therefore to better understand the functioning of structures within a system and, on that basis, to take actions that preventor actually solve problems.

Some of the benefits of working with archetypes include: (Kim, 1999) 

  • they make systems thinking visible; they visualize our way of thinking;
  • they are easy to understand, they are common and very recognizable;
  • theyhave a high transfer value: the same archetypes occur in many situations in education, biology, politics, economics or when leading organizations; 
  • They can lead to more research and reflection instead of looking for anoblique one; especially if they are used in a group as a means of discussing problems together.

Like all visual aids, the archetypes offer plenty of opportunities for communication, for exploring our mental models of how things work andfor learning from and with each other. 

8.2. Using archetypes

Causal loops and archetypes are great to use in a school when discussing and solving problems. A commonly used method is the following:

  • there is a persistent problem;
  • gather a group of people around you who want to think along or are involved in this problem;
  • grab a plate or a flip chart;
  • tell the story and choose some variables (simply start with two or threekey variables);
  • draw a loop or single loops, talk about it together;
  • if necessary, add relationships by drawing more arrows;
  • Consider together whether there is an archetype, a common combination of loops, which is discussed in this chapter;
  • Don’t try to put the story in the archetype: the map is not the area!!

Archetypes can be used in a variety of ways. (Kim, 1997)

8.2.1. The archetype as a lens

With the help of an archetype, we can get to a problem. We then put on special glasses with which we look at the situation. From the different archetypes we always tell a different story and ask different questions. (See 8.4.)

This approach teaches us to look at a problem from different points of view and also that these different approaches each have their own value. 

8.2.2. The archetype as a pattern template

In this case, we use archetypes where the concrete variables have been omitted.

Using thetemplates helps us to map out the essence of a problem. In this method, it is recommended to use the templates only after the causal loops have been drawn according to the story. Trying to force a problem or a verheel into a template doesn’t work!

8.2.3. The archetype as a possible theory

To be able to learn in an organization, a coherent theory is often very important. Using the archetypes, we can develop a theory of  what we don’t know based on what we do know. In other words, by mapping a problem using the archetype, we may be able to explain what’s going on and why. This is the first step towards possible interventions that solve the problem and not just eliminate the symptoms. 

8.2.4. The archetype as a tool to predict behavior

If we understand the underlying structures of a problem we are better able to predict howevery way the system will respond. Interventions can then be aimed at preventing these reactions or stimulating them.

8.3. Overview of the eight archetypes

Archetypes always consist of combinations of two or more causal loops. The two important rules of the system language are therefore assumed to be familiar when working with archetypes; see the previous chapter on the causal loops.

This chapter describes eight of the best-known archetypes. For each archetype, the backgrounds and principles are briefly explained, some examples are given and the corresponding behavioral pattern graph and causal loops are depicted. Each time, an example from education has been worked out. The piece concludes with a summary overview. This overview holds a number of possible interventions for each archetype.

In the diagram below you will find an overview of the archetypes described with the questions you can ask to find out whether there is actually the archetype in question.

archetype questions you can ask
palliatives with a counterproductive effectHave any quick actions been taken to resolve the symptoms without paying attention to the long-term effects?Have we taken similar actions before
shifting the loadDid the actions aim at symptom control draw attention to working on a real solution? Do the actions have adverse effects on the school’s learning and self-resolving capacity?
limits to growthDid successes eventually work against us? Are there any boundaries in the system that inhibit further development?
escalationAre there two parties where the actions of one party pose a threat to the other? Does each party have the ability to avenge itself with the same kind of actions?
tragedy of the open fieldDo two or more people can use a limited number of resources without restrictions? Does unlimited use lead to ‘drying up’ of the source?
adjusting the goalsIs there a question of letting go of the original vision or goals? Are people focused on getting rid of the feeling that goals are not being achieved instead of focusing on achieving the goals?
success for the successfulIs there a choice between two or more options where the decision is made in favor of the successful ones? Is the success of one determined by the means and opportunities offered to him and not to the other?
growth and underinvestmentAre investments made in response to growth or is it anticipated? Are problems that arise and in the organization the signal to start investing?

8.3.1. Archetype palliative measures with a counterproductive effect


Almost every decision we make has short- and long-term consequences. Sometimes these consequences are diametrically opposed. What seems good in the short term only makes the problem worse in the longer term.

We often see this in situationswhere there is pressure to solve a problem quickly. We sometimes put this pressure on ourselves! We act, the symptom is gone, the job is done. Only later do the unintended consequences become visible. Consequences, which sometimes make the problemworse or that create other problems in other places. The word “later” is the biggest part of the problem. We are focused on short-term solutions, on taking quick action, not talking for too long but doing! In education, too, the tendency to ‘do it fast’ prevails. 

Systems thinking teaches us to see the consequences of this course of action.

Some examples:

  • borrowing money to pay for other loans;
  • have less maintenance to save costs;
  • construction of more roads at files;
  • forcing teachers to change when there is resistance;
  • trying to increase quality by imposing and prescribing more;
  • an internal supervisor who does the work himself if teachers do not keep agreements;
  • teachers who solve children’s problems themselves because ‘they can’t do it themselves’;
  • increasingly severe penalties to keep a class in check.

Some mental models:

  • This problem is easy to solve; get to work on it;
  • We must do something quickly now, we’ll see the rest later;
  • If I don’t do something soon, I’ll be blamed; I am expected to solve problems quickly;
  • we need to make the symptoms disappear so that others don’t see what’s reallygoing on;
  • ….who then lives, who then cares…. (‘After us the flood’).

Behaviour Overt Time graph


The problem increases, becomes a little less after an action, but then gets worse again. This repeats itself a number of times. 



When reading this archetype, we start at the top left.

The grade 3 teacher says she has many children in her group with reading difficulties. The teacher of group 4 agrees. To help the children (and the teachers), it is decided to arrange a number of extra hours of remedial teaching outside the classroom. Increase in the number of children with problems in this case leads to an increase in the number of hours of RT. This appears to help. The worst need in both groups is decreasing, the number of problem children is decreasing. The small loop is then closed.

However, a consequence of this approach may be that the increase in the number of hours of RT leads to a decrease in the teacher’s own responsibility (the large loop down). The consequence of this decrease in personal responsibility may be that the teacher is more likely tofind out that a child is a ‘problem child’.

Please note:

What is essential about the archetypes is that they show what can happen. This does not mean that it will be the case in all cases. That is precisely what the conversations that you can have together on the basis of such a schedule serve.



The more resistance team members have to change, the more forcefully the school leader tries to convince them that they need to change. In the short term it helps, but in the longer term the motivation of the team decreases even more and the weather conditions only increase. 

8.3.2. Archetype shearing of the load


There is a problem and what needs to be done seems obvious. The symptoms therefore disappear quickly. But this diverts attention from the actual, fundamentalcause of the problem that (temporarily) does not seem to be so strong.

The chosen solution is often that of least resistance and has a relieving effect.

It is precisely the ‘enlightenment’ that ensures that we do nothing about the underlying problem. On thatbasis we become dependent on the symptom control and we start to see it as a normal course of events. In other words, we deprive the system of the opportunity to solve the problem more fundamentally and therefore make it weaker and weaker. Shifting the burden is an archetype that we see in many forms of addiction and dependence.

Some examples:

  • drinking a lot of coffee to keep fit;
  • constantly taking headache tablets or other medications;
  • regularly have a big drink tegand the stress or against the loneliness;
  • install detection gates when there are weapons at school;
  • working with more action plans in case of motivation or concentration problems;
  • engaging outsiders to solve difficult problems, preventing people from learning to solve them themselves;
  • appointing a ‘strong man or woman’ in crisis situations at a school.

Some mental models:

  • We need to do something at once and come back to the underlying problem later;
  • we can only deal with the symptoms; The cause is not our pakkie-an;
  • I know this is a bad habit, but I can stop at any time;
  • This has always worked out well, so I hope so now;
  • It would be nice to really look at causes, but we don’t have the time for that;
  • Long-term solutions take too long, then I’m no longer here (the politician’s pitfall?).

Behaviour Overt Time graph




With this archetype, we start with the problem in the middle.

The teachers at the upper school complain that a number of children “do nothing” in the classroom. In addition, they show all kinds of undesirable behavior. Notes are passed on in class, two studentswere even in class a few days ago calling with their mobile phones. It can no longer be that way.

It is decided to tighten up a number of rules and to punish violators severely.

In the archetype, we go up on the right. The stricter rules and agreements lead to the annoying behaviour of the ‘burden items’ being reduced. The top loop is round.

We have chosen to combat symptoms. What should happen is also look at the causes of the problem and choose a more fundamental solution. This is indicated by the loop from the middle down.

To what extent does this behavior have to do with the education in these groups?

And now the most important thing in the archetype ‘shifting the burden’: precisely because we combat the symptoms, we do not find it necessary to take the more fundamental approach. The rightmost arrow shows that the choice of rules and penalties leads to a decrease in reflection on education and therefore to less investment in good education. And that in turn leads to more behavioral problems in the classroom in the longer term.



Teachers find it difficult to deal with differences in the classroom. That is why we ask a supervisor from the education guidance service (OBD) to coach teachers. That helps. The result, however, is that partly because of this, the incentive to learn this as a school decreases. Such help reduces the school’s self-learning capacity in the longer term and increases the problems. 

8.3.3. Archetype limits to growth


‘If only we could predict the bad times if we are doing well…’

In good times, we often forget to invest in things that are needed when things are not going so well. There is no such thing as unlimited growth. Growth patterns and limitations come in all kinds of combinations. The reinforcing and stabilizing loops usually keep each other in balancewithin a system. After growth, a limit comes into view that leads to a trend towards balance. For example, the limit may consist of a shortage of raw materials or resources. But often reactions from the system itself also play a role. When growth slows down, it is sometimes inexplicable and we work even harder, we do even more of the same to turn the tide. However, we can learn from this archetype that increasing efforts usually only backfires: the starwe push, the harder the system seems to push back.

Some examples:

  • I’m learning to play tennis and in the beginning I’m moving forward fast. But then the borders come into view and much more effort is needed to get even further;
  • a shopping center thatattracts so many visitors that it threatens to become inaccessible;
  • rapid growth of an organization, because of which it is insufficiently able to continue to offer service and quality;
  • the rapid growth of a school requires professional management and leadershipskills that are insufficiently available; 
  • successful innovations with an enthusiastic team in a school; At some point it becomes too much and the energy is gone.

Some mental models:

  • Growth is good, more growth is even better! The harder we work, the more we grow;
  • we cancontinue to grow indefinitely; there are no limits;
  • Our problems are caused by the economy, the current situation in our country or the world or by our customers. It can’t possibly have anything to do with ourselves;
  • If we just go the extra mile now,we will get out of this valley by ourselves.

Behaviour Overt Time graph


Causal loops



We start in the middle. A school has implemented a number of successful innovations. There was hardly a project imaginable or the school was at the front of the queue to participate. The successes led to theteam’s enthusiasm increasing all the way (to the bottom left). Due to the great enthusiasm of the team, every project and a new method could also be added (the left circle is complete; a good example of a reinforcing loop).

Then we go to the bottom right. All thoseactivities that the team (unnoticed) takes on, lead to more work pressure and fatigue overall. As a result, energy is declining and that has consequences for the successful approach to innovations.

Limits to growth is an example of how thefirst systems will try to restore balance and ensure that the strengthening loop does not ‘get out of hand’.



The number of students at the school is increasing. Often this is a process that constantly reinforces itself. The left loop shows this. A school that is growing ‘will therefore be a good school’. The more signups, the more will follow. Thisdevelopment cannot go on indefinitely either. We can consciously choose to have a policy about school size. In many cases, however, the system corrects itself. The growth in the number of pupils has all kinds of consequences that parents doand decide to choose another school. This is shown in the right, stabilizing loop. In this example, ‘cosiness and atmosphere’ is taken as a variable. Of course, many other variables can play a role:

  • accessibility andbusy times around the school; 
  • fewer personal contacts; 
  • increasing diversity in the team.

All of these factors can play a role. You can also expand the archetype with other loops. The model will then look like this.


8.3.4. Archetype escalation


The most important principle in escalation is ‘equal currency’: two or more people or parties who do not want to be inferior to each other and who therefore continue to increase their actions. Each party bases its actions on the actions of the other. A looks at whatt B does and when B is ‘ahead’, A takes action to negate that lead. Then B does the same to A. In many cases, power plays a role or the feeling of being threatened. 

This also occurs between and within organizations: one wants to be ahead of the other. Both at the level of the entire organization (one school does not want to be inferior to another, the participation council not for the team), and at the individual level (school leaders, teachers, children).

Some examples:

  • advertising wars between companies;
  • the Cold War arms race after World War II; 
  • the conflict in Israel between the Jews and the Palestinians;
  • America and terrorism following the September 11, 2001 attacks;
  • the breakdown of a marriage;
  • scholen lying in the same neighborhood fighting each other; 
  • quarrels in the schoolyard.

Some mental models:

  1. we have to be better than the other: we can’t allow B to have a head start;
  2. if B has a head start, we are the losers;
  3. we have to beat B, it’s all or nothing;
  4. if B finally stopped, at least this fuss was over;
  5. We can continue this fight for a long time to come; In the end, we win.

Behaviour Overt Time graph


Causal loops



The archetype ‘escalation’ often applies to all kinds of conflicts. In this case, it is an argument between two students in the bridge class: Steven and Oscar. The reading starts again in the middle. Oscar behaves aggressively towards Steven. We read on to the bottom left. Steven feels threatened, doesn’t let himself go unconvinced and strikes back.

The left circle is complete.

Now we go to the right. Oscar, in turn, feels threatened by Steven’s actions and retaliates. Then it goesfrom bad to worse. 

It is important with this archetype to note that if two parties are needed to start the archetype, only one party is needed to end it…



Conflicts occur not only between children, but also between teachers, between parents and teachers, and between schools. This is an example of escalation involving two schools. Both schools are close to each other in a new district and ‘fight’ for the students.

The recruitment campaigns of school A increase the number of parents who choose that school. As a result, school B feels threatened and takes actions that in turn lead to feelings of threat at school A. Andso on. 

Basically, the same thing plays out here as in the previous example about the argument between Steven and Oscar. 

8.3.5. Openfield tragedy archetype


A number of people use the same source. At first, the source seems inexhaustible. No one cares what to do when the source runs out. They benefit individually from the common use of facilities. At some point, the use grows beyond the level that the facility can carry. The source is running out, is less available or drops in quality, especially if there is no one who supervises, who manages the joint resources and ensures that theyare handled in an e-good way. Such a source can be, for example: natural raw materials, human efforts, financial capital, all kinds of resources and materials, technology, expertise of employees, etc. Thus, the source can contain both material andintangible content. 

Some examples:

  • many environmental problems: landfilling, acid rain, global warming;
  • traffic problems: the scarce raw material ‘road’;
  • ranchers in developing countries who want to take advantage of the scarce suitable GROND;
  • overfishing of the North Sea by various countries with their own interests;
  • overloading the administration in a school organization;
  • departments within an organization that compete for the expert employees;
  • more and more teachers who want to use (too few) computers in the school;
  • all teachers who ask the janitor to fix jobs for them.

Some mental models:

  • this resource is there for my own benefit and I can make unlimited use of it;
  • there is more than enough for everyone;if I take too much, I will hear it;
  • I am just one of the many users of this resource; one more or less doesn’t matter;
  • Someone else has to supervise it, it’s not my responsibility;
  • If I’m the only one moderating, it won’t matter much;
  • I must make sure I get enough, otherwise I won’t keep up with the times.

Behaviour Overt Time graph


Causal loops



A new janitor is appointed at a school. Teachers are happy with this. Finally they get support with all kinds of activities: copying, jobs, small groceries, preparing things, etc. After a while, it turns out that the new man is also very useful. Teachers also ask him to create all kinds of fun learning tools.

The more benefit a teacher sees in supporting the janitor, the more he will make use of it. However, this does not only apply to teacher A, butalso to teacher B, C and D.

The total number of available hours remains the same, so that the flush becomes thinner and the benefit ultimately becomes less and less.



A school starts using a new computer lab. The school has 14 groups. No further agreements have been made about who can dispose of the room and when.

It soon becomes clear that teachers are positively working in the new classroom. More and more groups want to use it. As a result, the possibilities that the new computers originally offered are rapidly diminishing.

8.3.6. Archetype adjustment of targets


Based on the common vision, we set ourselves thegoals we are trying to realize. This is also the case in organizations. If the level of functioning does not meet the standard we have set, a gap arises: the difference between goal and actual reality. The gap should ensurethat we go the extra mile to achieve the goal. In many cases, however, we see that the pressure is increasing to lower the standards, to adjust the goals downwards. Goals are considered ‘too high’ if the required actions are difficult, take time, are expensive, etc. However, adjusting the goals downwards leads to even less need for performance and therefore to reducing them, which in turn leads to…….

This archetype shows us how important it is to stick to goals,develop e and attitude of ‘let’s make things better’.

Some examples

Downwardly adjusting goals is one of the most common archetypes in our personal lives, but also in all kinds of organizations such as schools. 

We set ourselveswith less because the goals set are difficult to achieve. Such as complying with all kinds of rules and agreements within the team, a professional school culture, all kinds of structures or the quality of the innovations in the classroom.

We close our ogand to things that happen contrary to what has been agreed.

This archetype shows us that we tend to constantly water down.

“Contentment is the enemy of progress,” people sometimes say. This expression certainly applies to this archetype.

Some mental models

  • When these goals were set, the situation was quite different from today;
  • Those who have set the goals have nice talk: they have no idea what it all means for us;
  • Normally ‘we go for it’, but now there is a special situation;
  • This goal is far too high; we don’t have enough time, resources and support;
  • Who cares if we take a little longer; Have you heard any complaints?

Behaviour Overt Time graph


Causal loops



This archetype is about the creative tension: the perceived difference between vision and reality. If there is a gap between what we would like to achieve and the current situation, this pinch. We can close that gap in two ways:

  • we defeat our standards, we adjust the goals downwards;
  • We take actions that bring our current reality closer to our goals.

Reading starts in the middle: at school the elastic pinches!

The school wants to give more shape to adaptive education. It is agreed to  deal better with differences in the classroom itself and to apply remedial teaching only in real emergency situations. The reality, however, is that teachers find it difficult to deal with differences properly. We read on to the top left. Because teachers find it so difficult, the pressure to support outside the classroom increases. The school ‘goes down on its knees’ and gives in. As a result, it pinches less; the top hand has gone down……

We continue, to the bottom left. Because we have lowered the standards, the tendency to actually work on adaptive education decreases, e.g. by professionalizing the team.   Teachers do not learn, performance decreases, the current quality decreases and the perceived difference between goal and reality increases again!

In this archetype, the learning disability of the boiled frog plays a role. (see Chapter 1) Adjusting the goals is step by step. We hardly notice that we keep lowering the bar a bit. In the longer term, there is nothing left of all good intentions and it is too late to do anything in time.

8.3.7. Archetype success for those who succeed


Those who have the resources in an organization usually play it safe and often allocate the (limited) resources to successful employees. The more success, the more resources, the more success. Moreover, these investmentshave the effect   of the self-fulfilling prophecy, especially if the granting of additional facilities to the most successful leads to a reduction in investments in those who are less successful.

‘Facilities’ can be understood as all kinds of materialand intangible resources: money, education, time, attention, space, responsibility.

Some examples:

  • successful employees or departments in an organization are given extra space to develop new products;
  • having (expensive) in-service training followed by those teachers who are already successful;
  • A lot of attention for the children we expect a lot of, which increases their performance, which in turn leads to more attention. But the other way around also applies: in children who have once been given a negatief ‘label’ (is slow, has a learning disability) the expectations are adjusted downwards. 

Some mental models:

  • the one who is successful should also be given the most opportunities;
  • if a person is successful, he at least makesgood use of the funds allocated;
  • This approach encourages others to perform better;
  • In any case, you know that the investments will also be earned back;
  • it’s good to bet on a winning horse; 
  • the less successful are not for nothing…….

Behaviour Overt Time graph


Causal loops



We tend to invest primarily in those things or individuals that have shown their value or that we are sure will yield returns.

In this example, the question is whether the lower or upper school can follow an (expensive) nascholing. You can’t do both. The choice falls on the substructure; After all, they have shown a strong development in the past two years. This is different with the superstructure; little is done with all kinds of innovations. 

We read to the top right. Byallocating resources to the substructure, their successes increase. Next time, we will be even more willing to invest in them. (The top circle)

As a result, we can invest less in the superstructure, which limits their development even moreand we are only confirmed in the correctness of our choice.



Aspects of new learning were discussed at school. One of the components that was discussed was cooperative learning. However, one of the teachers has a truly clear preference for teaching. ‘I have to pass on my knowledge to the students’, is hismental model. We read from the middle to the top right. The consequence of his preference is that he will devote a lot of time and attention to teaching behavior, with the result that he sees the successes confirmed. 

In the bottom circle we see that as a result ofhis teaching style, the teacher makes no effort to promote collaborative learning. The result is that children do not learn this and do not achieve success. This only confirms his preference for the teaching style.

8.3.8. Archetype growth and underinvestment


If an organization or part of it is successful, in many cases we do not invest in time to be able to continue this growth in the future. We do not ask ourselves enough about what is needed to remain successful in the future. Which products are now successful and how can we respond in time to the increasing demand? What needs will arise and how can we anticipate them in time by developing new products? This happens toolittle. As a result, a limit is reached at some point that would not have been necessary with sufficient proactive policy. The central question here is: do we continue to have sufficient capacity (qualitative and quantitative) tostay ahead of our customers’ expectations? Organizations that do not do this become victims of their own success or are insufficiently able to respond to changing questions from the environment. 

Some examples:

This archetype is common in organizations, if a person, a department or a product is very successful. As a result, demand sometimes increases explosively and the organization cannot meet this. This leads to dissatisfaction with the customer, whichleads to dropouts and loss of customers.

Some mental models:

  • As long as we grow, the rest will come naturally;
  • we only invest in current demand, not in possible future demand;
  • Let us be especially careful;  investments in innovations only cost money;
  • We can’t expect it to keep going well all the time; we still exist…….(if the downward line becomes visible)

Behaviour Overt Time graph



A school in a new housing estate receives more applications, which means that the school is experiencing strong growth (the loop at the top left). An increase in the number of pupils has a positive effect on the image, which means that the school is growing even faster. However, the building is notdesigned for such rapid growth. The school cannot place all students and introduces a waiting list. This leads to frustrations of parents who choose another school (the loop at the top right).

The fact that the school is by no meansable to place all the pupils who are registered makes it clear that something has to be done: classrooms must be built. The need for this is of course partly influenced by the policy on this point, e.g. of the municipality or the school board.

The addition of the classrooms means that the school can place more students again and the growth can continue.



Parents are increasingly asking for out-of-school care. The school will collaborate with the community work. All kinds of activities are set up for after school. Supply creates demand, so it is being used more. The call for ‘more and more often’ klinkt.

As a result, the school is reaching the limit of its possibilities and can no longer meet all requests. This leads to frustration and to a decrease in demand, or to choosing another school.

Depending on the policy, the school can alsochoose to invest further in the development of a community school, so that it can meet the demand.

Overview of the eight archetypes

Counterproductive palliatives


Shifting the load


Limits to growth




The tragedy of the open field


Adjust of the goals


Success for those who succeed


Growth and too little investment

name archetypepatternbrief descriptionManagement principles / interventions
Counterproductive palliativesA problem increases, then slightly by the palliative, then further up, then slightly decreases, then increases again, and so on.A palliative that turns out to work well in the short term has unforeseen long-term consequences that make the problem worse instead of solving it.The urge to do something immediately is stronger than the awareness of the negative consequences on the longer term.least anything to do…’ What do you hear?”This has always helped. Why doesn’t it work now?’Stay focused on the long term. Realize that (especially in education) we tend to help quickly, to solve everything and that we often do not look beyond tomorrow. Rephrase a problem (together) and focus on underlying causes. Avoid remedies that only have symptoms. combat
Shifting the loadAn increasing number of short-term solutions that work for a while, while the underlying problem is getting bigger and bigger. A fundamental solution is not being worked on.There is an underlying problem and that causes symptoms. Because the real problem is easy totackle, we shift the burden off the problem to well-intentioned, easy solutions. They seem efficient, but only alleviate the symptoms. As a result, the system also loses the power to solve the underlying problems. What do you hear?”Listen, this solution has always helped so far. What kind of difficulties could we have in that way?’Beware of symptomatic solutions. They only offer short-term benefits. In the long term, damage is done because opportunities for real solutions are lost. Be focused on the long term and link it to the shared vision.
Limits to growthInitially (strong) growth. After that, stabilization occurs or even decrease.To achieve a desired result, activities are undertaken. Success is increasing, but at the same time side effects are becoming visible that are a brake on further growth. There is no such thing as endless growth.What do you hear?”Why should we care about problems that don’t exist? We’re doing well.’Do not force growth but remove growth limiting factors. The lever lies in the stabilizing loop and not in the reinforcing loop. Find the limiting factor and change it. So don’t push even harder and do more of the same.
EscalationEscalation ofthe actions of both parties, both in number and intensityA competitive spiral, in which one person or party constantly reacts to what the other is doing. One has the idea that one must be ahead of the other to succeed. The presentation of one leads to the other feeling threatened and taking a counter-action. What do you hear?”We can’t just leave this unanswered. If our opponent finally stopped, we could be busy with other things.’Create awareness of escalation. Try to find a wayto make the sides feel like they’re “winning” when they’ve achieved another goal. Look for win-win situations. The vicious circle can be broken if one party engages in ‘peace-loving’ activities, so that the other no longer feels complacent.
name archetypepatternbrief descriptionManagement principles / interventions
The tragedy of the open fieldInitial growth of the individuals, then the resource becomes exhausted and growth suddenly decreases.Individuals use a resource accessible to all, but limited. They are driven solely by personal need. They’re going to use more and more. The resource is significantly depleted or completely used up.What do you hear?”Er was always enough for everyone. Now other times have come. If I don’t want to fall short, I’m going to have to stand up for it.’Manage the common resource!! Either by creating joint responsibility or by an official responsibility: who is allowed to use the source when and to what extent? Such agreements are preferably drawn up by the parties involved themselves.
Adjust of the goalsBoth the level of the goals and the performance delivered are decreasing further and further. This archetype is a specific interpretation of ‘shifting the burden’. The short-term solution involves setting an important long-term goal. What do you hear?’It doesn’t matter if this goal is not achieved. We’ll be fine if we have a little more time.’Provide a shared vision and derive goals from it. Stick to these goals as much as possible. Discuss them with each other and stimulate actions that really lead to their realization. This archetype is closely linked to the discipline of personalexperience.
Success for those who succeedThe success of A continues to increase, that of B decreases (as a result).Two or more parties or persons “compete” for limited resources, which are managed by another party. This concerns, for example, money, time, support, etc. If A is successful, more resources are made available to A. This can increase A’s success even further. More resources to A means fewer resources to B. This gives B fewer chances to become successful. One is doing better and better, the other is getting harder and harder. What do you hear?”At least he’s doing something with it. Let him follow this training.’With this archetype, beware of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Find the overarching goal that can be achieved when there is a balance between the two choices. Loosen the link between the two so that parties or individualsdo not have to compete for the means themselves.
Growth and too little investmentThe demand for a product increases, while the supply is still the same.Growth reaches a limit that should not (yet) exist if the organization (or the person) invested in more capacityit. These investments must be made in a timely manner. Often, targets or standards are lowered to justify the underinvestment .What do you hear?”We’d better be careful and not overinvest.”Make sure that capacity always stays ahead of demand. Among other things, as a strategy to create demand. Stick to a vision, especially with regard to assessing essential prestatienormes and of the suitability and capacity to meet potential demand.

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