🌊 Where systems collide

This is Clearwater Beach Florida. The line in the sand is where two systems meet.

On the left is the natural system. On the left there are no incentives but there are interacting particles. The left is ruled by winds, temperatures, salinity, and tides. The left is a complex systems. The left is home to butterfly effects, non-linearity, and red groupers. The left is a power law world.

The right is the Pinellas County Parks and Recreation system. Each morning workers level, grade, and fluff the sand. They show up because they are paid via the fees generated by public parking in the area. The right is where people interact, sometimes in complicated ways. The right is normal distributions.

In each system certain actions are easier than others. The conditions of the sand are stable enough that it’s worthwhile for the Pinellas County Parks and Recreation Beach Maintenance Team to work the sand each morning. Nice beaches lead to visitors who have to pay to park which funds the beach maintenance.

This couldn’t be done in the water.

Every system has elements that make certain outcomes more or less difficult. People respond to incentives, mostly. Complexity rules everything that interacts, mostly.

The next time you ask your daughters to do something, and they don’t listen. The next time you email a teammate, and they give a subpar effort. The next time you try to diet, work more (or less), or finally have productivity-hack-zero, and it fails.

The next time consider the system.