Success Engine (Reinforcing)

Success Engine (Reinforcing)
Interpreted by Adam Chan
Edited by Cheng Ting Kuang

There are numerous models and theories that emphasize on the recipe to success. Which one will work? Is it a question of skill, knowledge or attitude? The most common reply is probably a blend of the three. Does that sound like a safe response or is that just a motherhood statement? In theory, if all the contributing factors are observed and practiced, success would be eminent, wouldn’t it? It sounds easy, yet can this be achieved? What is oblivious to most is the fact that we are limited by a cognitive bottleneck. Simply phrased; we are not capable of observing and practicing all these contributing factors at once. So with such a limitation, would success still be eminent?

Perhaps it would make better sense to focus on the key factors that possess stronger links and have the ability to cross augment other factors. When these key factors are achieved, every thing else will fall into place. Now, is that too good to be true? Do you subscribe to the notion of  “Less Is More”? The conventionally cautious mentality of most people will not. Let’s examine the “Success Engine (reinforcing)” model to help us understand the concept of “less is more”

The Model

The model centers on the word quality and mutual reinforcements. The diagram below shows the four factors that make up the model. The block arrows form a loop in which the factors are related to each other. Every factor is interdependent and they reinforce each other in an infinite loop.

In brief, with quality relationships among team members, it will augment our quality of thinking. When our thinking is of quality, it will lead to quality actions during execution. Without a doubt, quality results will be inevitable. The loop competes when quality results are achieved, the interpersonal relationship gets enhanced.

More than often, we will wish to focus on the four factors to achieve perfection. Yet we forget that perfection is an unattainable illusion. Earlier, the cognitive bottleneck was mentioned; it is the inherent limitation of the human mind. For instance, why are there only 8 digits in our telephone numbers? Technology is not the limiting factor here but research has shown that our memory is only capable of recalling number sets containing 7 – 9 random numbers. With such a limitation, we will not be able to focus on all four factors simultaneously and wouldn’t doing so severely stress our mental capabilities? Some may argue that there are only four factors and it is not too heavy for us to look into all at once. Yet in reality, we have to remember that each factor consists of many sub-factors. Taking just one factor completely into consideration is already quite a feat. So if we can’t focus on all four factors, which one would we place emphasis on?

If we were to rank these factors in the order of importance, guess which one will come out on top? Most commonly: the quality of relationship will.

So how would focusing on relationships bring about cross augmentation to the other three factors?

Abraham Maslow developed a theory for human motivation. In his five-stage Hierarchy of Needs, he illustrates the enduring desire of humans to seek out basic needs like food, shelter, air, etc. progressively all the way to higher order needs like self-esteem, creativity, self-actualization, etc. At the highest stage, the person is self-actualized and is able to perform at his peak.

In his model, after satisfying our basic needs, we seek out affection, love and relationships. Achieving this stage would then propel our whole being into a higher plane of thinking and performing.  Without satisfying this stage of relationships, we face difficulty ascending to the higher stages and stagnation leads to unhappiness and a sense of loss.

The phrase “No man is an island” depicts how we innately seek to build connections with people both intentionally and unintentionally. In order for a family, an organization, a sport team, an expedition team, etc. to succeed in achieving their common goals, fostering quality relationships is crucial. Weak or hostile relationships breed negative energy quietly among team members. These intangible obstacles will then block or inhibit the communication flow in the team. With such frequent destructive communication, the connections between team members soon turn into gaps and the team eventually becomes divided. The progression towards their common goals will be shackled by this malicious negative energy. And at this point, there will no longer be progress to talk about, merely interventions and damage control measures.

Making reference to Bruce Tuckman’s team developmental model, the team shackled by such energy is known to be at the Storming stage. For any upward progression to take place, the team would have to build up their intra-team relationships and set the stage for a norming team to develop. We do this with the idea that Less achieves More, and in this case, focusing on the sole factor of “quality of relationships”. Most people will find it unusual because they will feel insecure to leave things to chances. However, believing in “Less is More” is not leaving things to chances but discovering more accurate and correct approaches. Placing weight on building quality relationships will lead to positive thinking which is an indication of quality thinking. A positive mind will translate to quality actions. Executing quality actions will assuredly achieve quality results. In turn, the quality results will reinforce the belief of building quality actions. The loop continues endlessly …

Supporting Web Links

The following are some web links for more reading:

1. Success Engine (reinforcing)
2. Maslow Hierarchy of Needs
3. Bruce Tuckman’s Team Developmental Stages