This Accidental Adversaries example consists of two groups, Employees and the Company, which working in the collaborative fashion have tremendous potential. Yet, operating from their own myopic unenlightened self-perspective, over time they defeat each other's, and eventually their own, success.
The external loop of this structure forms a virtuous reinforcing structure where the Employee's activity toward the Company adds to the Company's success. The Company's success then adds to the Company's activity toward the Employee which in turn adds to the Employee's success. The Employee's success then adds to the Employee's activity toward the Company. This structure actually supports the premise that the customer comes second (Rosenbluth, 2002) as employees are unlikely to treat customers any better than they're treated by the company.
Because of myopic short-sighted unenlightened self-interest, flawed mental models, and lack of trust, both employees and the company pursue actions which end up derailing this virtuous structure.
Employees engage in gamesmanship, more often political than otherwise, to promote their own success, and to the extent they perceive that it succeeds, it promotes them to engage in even more of the same activity. This activity actually detracts from the amount of activity employed toward the company's success. Even worse is the fact that the environment all the gamesmanship creates actually detracts directly from the company's success.
The company on the other hand tends to focus on growth, rather than development, which is perceived to improve the company's success. To the extent that this appears to result in company success it encourages even more focus on growth. This focus on growth detracts from the efforts toward employee development and even has a direct negative impact on employee success. Organizations though their own actions become much like cemeteries in that they grow each year though don't develop. This eventually leads to their demise.
As it turns out, in the long run, neither group can benefit
from unilaterally attempting to enhance their own success as it
degrades the entire structure. If the situation were a zero-sum
game the current situation would represent a Nash Equilibrium.
Though, since it's not a zero sum game, because of the virtuous
nature of the outside reinforcing cycle, the individual positioning
seems to work. And, as it generally takes quite a while for the
activity to negate the reinforcing portion of the structure, the
dynamic complexity of the environment escapes the participants.
When the structure fails everyone is in a quandary as to what
caused the problem, when in fact they all did.