Simple Rules: Self-Assessment

This month’s Change the World offers a tool to support self-reflection and personal growth in the new year. Based on the HSD Institute Simple Rules, the tool is a rubric for reflecting on your own behavior and choices, relative to each. Try it and let us know how it works for you. 


Simple Rules are agreements that inform behavior, so a diverse group can function as one. They set conditions that shape the emergent patterns as a group self-organizes. The rules may emerge from covert or overt agreements among the players, and they inform decisions and actions to create coherence across the whole.  Families, organizations, and communities establish Simple Rules as they learn to live, work, and play together. Sometimes Simple Rules are codified through laws, regulations, contracts, or other formal means.  At the same time Simple Rules can be unspoken, passing from person to person and generation to generation by the traditions and expectations that help people know how to belong and fit within the Simple Rules’ cultural patterns.  

The Human Systems Dynamics Institute uses a set of Simple Rules to define our culture—one that is aimed at ensuring resilience and coherence for individuals, groups, and our network as a whole. Employees, board members, network Associates, and interested colleagues around the globe experience these Simple Rules to shape the core patterns of the Institute. Our Simple Rules and their definitions appear below.

Teach and learn in every interaction.

Stand together in inquiry, exploring ideas, building shared meaning, and learning from and with others. Share what you know and remain open to new ideas, deeper insights, and broader perspectives.

Give and get value for value

Build balanced relationships where each individual or group gets what is needed, and each is allowed to contribute as they can. Negotiate differences with questions that increase individual and collective resilience.

Search for the true and the useful

Ensure that solutions and questions address real-world complexity. Check for truth in what you see and hear; seek usefulness in what you learn. Question assumptions and subjective truths at all scales.

Attend to the whole, part, and greater whole

See linkages and connections across systems. Recognize forces and influences in all areas. While global issues shape conditions in your world, know that change is driven by person-to-person interactions.

Engage in joyful practice

Recognize the value of engagement and commitment. Understand how joyful practice emerges when individuals and groups engage in work they love, know their contribution to success of the greater whole, and know their contributions are valued.

Share your HSD story

Be explicit in your use of Pattern Logic to see, understand, and influence patterns. Use what you know to contribute to adaptive capacity in the systems where you live, work, and play. Share what you learn as you explore the options and opportunities of using HSD. 

Because these Simple Rules have worked effectively in a broad span of organizations and situations, we invite you to “try them on for size” and begin to incorporate them into your own life. This month’s Change the World model is a self-reflection tool to help you think about each of the rules and how it does (or can) inform your own next wise action. Use this tool in your daily or weekly reflections over the next couple of months to explore how these Simple Rules you commit to can contribute to change in your life. Be in touch, and let us know what you learn.


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