Remember: Every System Is Perfectly Designed To Get the Result It Gets


vwOne of the most popular posts on this blog has been Change the Organization’s Design to Get Different Results; But Be Careful . . . You Will Get What You Design, from November 12, 2012 — an oldie, but goodie. The point of that post was that every organization is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.

I can’t help but read the newspaper these days with that thought in mind.

  • The Constitution designed our Congress and President perfectly to minimize any chance of action when there are significant differences between our parties. There’s no reason to blame Republicans for not letting President Obama have his way, nor to blame the President for not going along with Congress. This is how our system is designed.
  • There is something in the organizational design of Volkswagen that permitted cars to be programmed to violate the U.S. emissions standards, whether it is rogue engineers who were not adequately supervised or managers who deliberately turned their backs on the violation.
  • The combination of lax gun control laws and a reluctance to monitor the mentally ill is designed to lead to repeated mass shootings.

You may agree with the result (many people believe that passing fewer laws is a good thing) or you may disagree. But you can’t disagree with the truism that the system is designed to get the result it gets.

Most of these systems are complex, and changing one aspect of the system may or may not change the result. But what is certain is not changing anything will permit the same results to continue.

What other examples do you see of organizations getting the results they were designed to get?

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Filed under Human Resources, Management, Philosophy, Politics

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