Accidental Adversaries

The Accidental Adversaries structure is a composed of four reinforcing loops and two balancing loops. Overall system growth is driven by a global reinforcing structure. Two local reinforcing structures create balancing structures which then limit the growth of the overall system. This is by far not one of the easiest archetypes to understand, so it is presented in pieces.

The loop consisting of A's success, A's activity toward B, B's success, and B's activity toward A represents a cooperative reinforcing loop between A and B. At the same time that A and B are taking actions to enhance each others success they are taking actions to promote their own success. This activity is defined by the two inner reinforcing loops represented by A's activity toward A adds to A's success which in turn adds to A's activity toward A, and B's activity toward B adds to B's success which in turn adds to B's activity toward B.

This local self-enhancement activity would be fine except that the locally directed activities by A and B have an unintended consequences. A's activity toward A inhibits B's success. This in turn adds to a decline in B's activity toward A inhibiting A's success. The inhibition of A's success further decreases A's activity toward B. This represents a balancing loop which limits the overall intended cooperative efforts between A and B. This balancing loop is mirrored in the actions by B where B's activity toward B inhibits A's success. This in turn adds to a decline in A's activity toward B inhibiting B's success. The inhibition of B's Success then adds less to B's activity toward A.

This structure points out how myopic local activity, with the best of intentions, can lead to an overall limiting development of the global system, and actually inhibit local development as well.

Managing the Structure

What this structure serves to point out is that collaborative interactions have the potential to take us far beyond what is possible through competitive or cooperative interactions.


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