The drift to low performance trap is incredibly pertinent to large enterprises and public sector organizations. In particular, system administrators and security practitioners appear to have many government programs held hostage by nightmarish controls and delays. “Everything takes a long time because [procurement, security, network, infrastructure, et cetera].”
From “Thinking in Systems” by Donella H. Meadows, which I a few weeks ago.
THE TRAP: DRIFT TO LOW PERFORMANCE
Allowing performance standards to be influenced by past performance, especially if there is a negative bias in perceiving past performance, sets up a reinforcing feedback loop of eroding goals that sets a system drifting toward low performance.
THE WAY OUT
Keep performance standards absolute. Even better, let standards be enhanced by the best actual performances instead of being discouraged by the worst. Use the same structure to set up a drift toward high performance!