Compensating Feedback as suggested by Senge refers to the process whereby ‘the harder you push, the harder the system pushes back’. This simply implies that there are cases wherein there are great effort that one exerts to improve on things nonetheless as this “pushing” is being done, one realizes that there is a need for more and more efforts’. Senge further elaborates that there are instances wherein an initial plan and/or efforts fails to produce the desired results. When faced with this circumstance, one would try to push harder without realizing that the real cause of the problem involves oneself.
Senge’s System Thinking tries to capture the essence of the problem by breaking it down to its components. It tries to uncover the causes and look into the interrelationships, interaction, causes and effects of different variables and events that lead to a specific problem. In specifically identifying with ‘the harder you push, the harder the system pushes back’, I would like to connect my experience with regards to ‘gambling’. What happens when one gambles is that he/she gains short-term favourable results (no matter how relative ‘short term’ for different people).
However when one suddenly stop with gambling, as what happened to myself, he/she tends to gain an addiction to gamble and seems to want more without realizing how much he/she is gaining or losing.
On the onset of gambling one exerts all the effort or too much effort to win. The most common reason that people, like myself starts to gamble is just to try our luck. At the end, when one did not win, he/she would come back some other day. Actually, one will more often come back when she loses because there is a want to get even with the other players and or get back what one has lost. That’s the time that the system actually pushes back and seems to require more and more from the person or from the organization with regards to Senge’s perspective.
In the case of gambling, people tend to blame their ‘out of luck’ and/or possibility of being cheated when they lose. Then they blame gambling itself and other players when they become addicted rather than seeing their own flaws and/or lack of necessary discipline. I believe that the same thing applies when this type of system thinking applies to organization as a whole. The management would blame the system or the program for requiring too much when in fact it is their lack of proper perspective and discipline that leads or create the to the problem.
Senge, P.M. (2006). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Doubleday/Currency Publishing.