The tyranny of the urgent produces great pressure to react. Similarly, fragile groups of diverse stakeholders often feel that they must do something to maintain momentum. The unintended consequence of these impulses can result in a dependence on “the quick fix”, which can also undermine addressing the issue in the long term. The reasons for this range from the simple release of pressure (“What’s the problem? Things are fine the way they are.”) to a depletion of attention, resources and/or goodwill that make it unlikely or impossible that the fundamental change will happen.
Systems thinking offers some basic resources to think about how to act now while avoiding the seductions of addiction – these are the lessons of the “shifting the burden” archetype.
I used the following attachments recently to speak to participants at the Society for Public Health (SOPHE) midyear meetings about how these ideas might help them in their work.
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