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Slack, Reuse and Causal Loops

Mar 20, 2012, systemsthinking ~ business

So I've been thinking about causal loops lately, as you do. Studying cause and effect is a thinking tool I picked up when reading about systems thinking. It's cool.

Anyway, today I was thinking about how we could make our software company - engineroomapps.com - better in the future. This lead me to jot down some areas I thought were pivotal to our problems.

Reuse improves profit

Firstly, we have profit. I was thinking that if we can achieve reuse then there's a good chance we can improve our profits.

reuse causal loop

Reuse improves profit. This is a causal loop diagram

This means reusing code, processes, assets and stuff. This should make our value stream more efficient by giving us a form of duplication.

Slack allows reuse

The reason we don't achieve high reuse right now is down to having zero time. We basically spend every waking (or working) minute serving our wonderful clients. It's safe to say that, if we had some slack time, we'd be able to focus on other stuff.

slack in causal loop

The more slack we have, the more we can invest in reuse

Profit allows slack

Then comes the finale. If we have profit, that buys us some slack, which we can use to invest in reuse. This becomes a beautiful virtuous cycle.

profit in causal loop

The more profit we have, the more slack we have to invest in reuse

I was pretty pleased with this. It's kind of simplistic and obvious, but the fact it's a virtuous cycle gets me excited. That's the gold dust here.

If reuse is going to help us, then we need slack. And, if we invest that slack into reuse, we can continue to raise our profit margins.

Of course, getting enough profit initially to find the slack is the trick. This causal loop has to be kickstarted by cash investment, time investment, borrowing, or just good old hard work :)

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