Two years ago, our region was inflicted with a barrage of gnats.  The annoying buggers were everywhere in swarms and negatively impacted the outdoor activities of many.  People avoided golfing or concerts because they were besieged by these insects.  

None of the usual insect repellents seemed to work, but one thing did: Absorbine Junior.  I am not sure who discovered this, but the muscle pain relieving liquid was the only thing that kept the gnats away.  

Once the word spread, everyone wanted to buy some. Stores only stocked a few bottles (which I am sure satisfied the demand for the previous years), so suddenly the supply was out.  Pharmacies kept their bottles behind the counter.  People were buying it out of state. The stores couldn’t order enough or keep it in stock. 

Fast forward to last year, and the retailers were prepared.  They ordered lots, and people bought lots.  We were thrilled to find it so stocked up and were ready.  Sales skyrocketed.

So this year, I imagine someone looked at last year’s sales and said “wow, we sold a lot, we better order a lot more again.”  Only two things happened:  1) the gnats did not return in the abnormal numbers like two years ago and 2) many people still had a full supply of Absorbine even if they did.

So now, you guessed it, the muscle relaxant is in ample (over) supply and retailers are working to get rid of it.

Another example of what Peter Senge describes as “systems thinking” and the consequences of looking at only one part of the system instead of the whole.  Focus on the big picture as you plan and not just the gnat in front of you.

— beth triplett

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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