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Navel Gazing

Definition: The difficulty breaks down like this:

  1. Certainly we cannot get things done just by talking about them.

  2. And yet, feedback can be useful, i.e., if there are mechanisms for responding to it in a useful fashion.

  3. The associated anti-pattern is a special case of the prototypical Batesonian double bind, “the father who says to his son: go ahead, criticize me, but strongly hints that all effective criticism will be very unwelcome” [1], p. 88.

Problem: Criticism is not always useful. Sometimes it is just “noise”.

Solution: It’s tempting to create “open” systems that inadvertantly replicate the double bind — by being open to criticism, but unable to act on it effectively.

Challenges: A long list of criticisms that haven’t been dealt with is maybe better than no communication at all, but it’s also a tell-tale sign of deeper dissatisfaction. It’s better to make sure you have enough bandwidth (see Carrying Capacity) for dealing with a given class of problems and issues. Adjust your focus accordingly, but be careful (see “Isolation”).

What’s Next: We have hinted that, in this project, effective criticism is very welcome! But understanding what makes criticism effective is, in general, still a research problem.


  1. Deleuze, G., and Guattari, F. (2004). Anti-oedipus. Continuum International Publishing Group.

Post Revisions:

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