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How to Use the Law of Requisite Variety to Improve your Life

How to Use the Law of Requisite Variety to Improve your Life


    Have you ever had one of those days where it was just one thing after another going wrong?

    Did you lay back and take it?

    Or…did you adapt to the changing situation around you to get the best possible result?

    Most people do the former.

    When problems pop up they don’t even try to fix them.

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    And then there’s always the temptation to resort to complaining…it feels good to sit back and have a moan about things doesn’t it?

    Well, maybe it’s time to shake things up a bit.

    Because the fact of the matter is this: The most flexible person wins.

    This theory has been studied across numerous disciplines, but originates from cybernetics – a study of the structure of regulatory systems.

    Cybernetics is a pretty complex theory that coined the term: ‘The Law of Requisite Variety’. To put it simplistically it means this:

    The more flexible you are when life throws a challenge your way – the more likely you will control your life and get what you want

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    What this means is that instead of just accepting situations when they don’t go your way – you have the opportunity to look for alternative options or solutions so that you essentially ‘beat’ the problem.

    Do you think successful people roll over and admit defeat when things don’t go their way? Of course not. They come up with ideas and solutions to ensure that no matter what happens – no matter how many issues are thrown at them – they are flexible enough to adapt and still get what they want.

    Let me give you an example.

    You’re running late. An unexpected detour means you’re faced with a huge traffic jam. You have 2 options – you can accept this challenge and sit in the traffic jam, give in to road rage & frustration – OR you can try to find another way around the problem.

    • Can you take another route?
    • Can you use the time in the car productively and to your advantage?
    • Can you start focusing on what needs to get done at work? Or brainstorm solutions to other problems you need to solve?
    • Can you look at this window of time as an opportunity instead of a problem?
    • Which of these options do you usually find yourself taking?
    • And is it time to make some changes?

    If you look at the most successful companies of the 21st century you can see this theory in action. Facebook, Google and Apple are constantly in a process of change and consistently launching new product innovations. They don’t sit still and wait for change to happen, they move in tandem with new technologies.

    Would they still be at the top of their game if they had remained the same as when they first launched?

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    I doubt it.

    Now – more than ever, we need to replace our rigidities with flexibility, we need to turn challenges into opportunities!

    Here’s a 3-step strategy to implement the Law of Requisite Variety into your life so you can start using change to your advantage:

    1. Lower your expectations

    Expect that things will probably not go your way. This removes any frustrations associated with change – often we have unrealistic expectations that things will always go according to plan. The reality is that life is in a constant flux of change and this too is reflected in everything we do on a day-to-day basis. The sooner you accept ‘change’ the sooner you can work with it instead of against it.

    2. Let go of trying to ‘control everything’

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    Try not to control how things turn out all the time. Be open to alternative options & solutions – when we open ourselves up, often there are better ways of doing things that we haven’t even considered. Being overly controlling is not a good thing.

    3. Change the way you view ‘change

    Instead of looking at change as a problem, look at it as an opportunity and remember – it’s up to you how you react to changes around you. You don’t have to lie down and take what life throws at you! Learn to duck and weave around life’s changes and use them to your advantage.

    (Photo credit: Closeup Shot of Colourful Jelly Beans via Shutterstock)

    More by this author

    Zoe B

    A strategist, coach and blogger who shows people how to stop what isn't working for them in life and to start to plan the life they really want.

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    Last Updated on December 18, 2020

    Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

    Can Technology have Biases Like Humans?

    Technology has taken a vantage leap in providing solutions for man. Before now, technology used to appear complex and would require a great deal of expertise to handle solutions available. Today, we have technology applicable in the simplest human activities as smart products with intelligent algorithms powering them as they make error-free judgments and provide intelligent and analytic solutions.

    Does technology have all the answers?

    This article from Credit Suisse, tells us that technology does not have all the answers because it has been found to exhibit “similar biases,” as humans. No one can discredit the impact of technology, but it is not totally free of human input and this is the reason we experience these biases in many areas we have technology holding foot.

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    Creating technological solutions transparently

    This article suggests that the process of creating technological solutions be made transparent and subject to contribution from many people who would end up as users of the product – male, female, young, old, learned, unlearned and all other preferences as we have them. It also underscores the importance of having women on product development teams. This approach is not sure to eliminate all forms of bias, but it is a good way to start in order to appraise the full benefits of technology.

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    Technology as the connecting tool

    Technology so far has been a major connecting tool amongst us humans. It is used and appreciated by all regardless of race, language and sex. In order to keep it less subjective to these arguments about human biases. I believe we should gather opinions on products and solutions before making them available to the public. This could be done by gathering input from intended target users and receiving feedback across the stages of production.

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    “Recognizing the problem is a start…success will depend on inclusive technologies that meet this vast untapped market.” This cannot be more apt especially at a time when we look up to technology for solutions. We should not muzzle our progress with technology by battling algorithm bias. The first way to avoid this battle is by reading this article here.

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