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Doom Loop System

I was in my early twenties and starting to take this thing called work a little more seriously.  I was learning from real world experiences, both my own and those of my colleagues.  I was fortunate enough to be mentored by one of my more experienced and senior colleagues, who we shall call Mo.  Over about a year, Mo became more and more dissatisfied with his role in the company.  I was confused to why he was dissatisfied, after all he was where I was working to get to.   Then a mere 18 months later, I found myself in a similar situation where I was dissatisfied with my role.  I followed Mo’s lead and left the company and took a position that was more stimulating at another company.

Over the years, I have seen this behavior repeat itself, both to myself and to others.  In the illustration above I have created a graph to depict the trend  of our job satisfaction over time.  In the illustration I used growth or satisfaction on the y axis.  For those people earlier in their careers they are more focused on their growth applies.  For those that are in a matured role, job satisfaction is a more appropriate label for the y axis.

The good news for us is that there is some research that shows that this curve is normal behavior in a book titled “The Doom Loop System” by Dory Hollander.   The time it takes for this curve to manifest itself is influenced by a number of circumstances both personal and job related.  As we go through the job satisfaction curve, our emotion play a role where we like and dislike the various stages as shown in the diagram below.

So far we have focused on our perspective.  In the diagram below, let’s take a look at things from an outsiders perspective, more specifically at our performance through the curve.  Not surprisingly, our performance tends to be better at the top of the curve where we have the knowledge to perform.  The interesting piece is that our performance declines on the tail end of the curve too.

The Doom Loop System is the brainchild of Dory Hollander and the first chapter of the book covers the Doom Loop System.  The rest of the book provides insight on how to continue career growth using the information gained from the use of the Doom Loop System.

The Doom Loop System builds on the curve and everything else that we have covered and that you are now familiar with.  The Doom Loop System follows our progression along the crve with the start in Quadrant I in the bottom left of the graphic below.  Then onto Quadrant II in the top left, Quadrant III in the top right and then down to Quadrant IV at the end of the curve.

The Doom Loop System

Each of the quadrants are covered below together with some keywords that can be used to describe our attitudes in each of the Quadrants.

Quadrant I

Quadrant I is generally the beginning of the curve where we are excited about the opportunities. That being said, we are still working on learning the environment or even building the skills needed for optimal performance.

Motivated Insecure Pressured Eager
Challenged Excited Fearful of failure Connected
Nervous Worried Overwhelmed

Quadrant II

In Quadrant II we have the skills, know the environment and therefore are able to perform at a higher level.  As a result, we tend to feel more upbeat and this is reflected by our attitude too.  As such, we are both happier and have the highest level of performance at the peak of the curve and therefore this is the ideal quadrant for us.

Satisfied Glad to be here Challenged Involved
Attentive Focused on the here & now Excited Confident
Striving Energized through work Committed In Control

Quadrant III

In Quadrant III we have peaked and are now on the downhill portion of the curve.  As a result, not only are starting to enjoy things less and our performance is also starting to deteriorate.

Vaguely Dissatisfied Careless / distracted In Crisis
Bored Frustrated Lacking self-discipline Panicky
Disappointed Out of control Questioning self / past Secure
Meeting needs mechanized Passively coping Dusty

Quadrant IV

Quadrant IV is the least pleasant place to be, both for us and for our employers.

Lethargic Desperate Hopeless Angry
Trapped Disillusioned Feeling like a failure Alone
Depressed Worried Bored

How does this apply to me?

So can we use our feelings and attitude to provide us with some insight into how the Doom Loop applies to us.  You can complete a Doom Loop online assessment that uses response about your feelings and attitudes to plot out a Doom Loop Matrix for you.   The URL for the online assesment is:  http://sparkpilot.com/doomloop/

Interpreting the Results

The resulting matrix has been plotted out according to the responses to the online assessment.  The numbers in the quadrants reflect the allocation of the survey results that are applicable to that quadrant.  The matrix reflects your perspective and does not reflect the perspectives of others or reflect your capabilities and skills.

Overcoming this behavior

The book covers in a lot of detail on how we can manage this in our careers.  The book introduces the concept of capstoning, where we need toe evaluate which quadrant we are in and when we are at the peak, we then move onto another role that stretches us further.

As managers, we can create the environment to help our people stretch and grow. The key is for us to know when our folks are transitioning from Quadrant II to Quadrant III.  We then create some new opportunities for them, while they are at their peak, either in new roles or expanding their current roles to include new challenging and exciting elements that will move elements of their role back to Quadrant I.  This is beneficial not only for the company but also for the employees because they do not have to go through the stress of finding a new role in or outside the company.  This approach also eliminates the integration phase because the person is still working with people that they have already established relationships which they can leverage.

  1. Charles C. jett
    February 25th, 2012 at 21:01 | #1

    While Dory Hollander published the book, “The Doom Loop System,” the concept was not original with her. The “Doom Loop” was conceived by Mr. Charles C. Jett who spoke widely on the subject at national conferences of the American Psychological Association, various major business schools, published a video through Northwestern University in 1987, and actually outlined the “Doom Loop” book for Dr. Hollander with the collaboration of Mr. Bruce Wexler. Dr. Hollander states in her book that she learned about the system and concept from Mr. Jett.

  2. February 16th, 2013 at 13:35 | #2

    Hello – I put a link from two of my blogs to yours – hope you don’t mind.
    I created the “Doom Loop” back in 1978 – and both blogs now contain that video.


    Charlie Jett

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