I’m a systems expert. I’ve been analyzing, creating, and improving complex business systems for over 25 years. I also have a great deal of experience in technological infrastructure systems as well. Systems are what I do.
Here’s how most people attempt to fix a broken, complex system.
They have a system that has, let’s say, ten problems. These problems range from very serious to strongly irritating. Out of the ten problems, a system may have four or five serious ones.
Most people immediately leap to the one problem that emotionally disturbs them the most. Out of the ten problems, they leap to problem number seven and scream their head off about it. They throw all of their emotional energy, time, and money at that problem.
It never gets fixed. The person is sometimes emotionally satisfied (to a degree) when they see some progress made on problem number seven because of the attention they’re giving it. Yet, the problem is never actually fixed, and the other nine problems remain. They end up working on problem seven forever, until either the entire system breaks down or they leave to work on some other system.
These people don’t understand that systemic problems are usually the result of other systemic problems. Problem number seven is usually the result of problem number six, which in itself is a result of problem number five.
The correct way to fix a system is to completely ignore problem number seven, and focus all of your energy on fixing problem number one. Perhaps you might have to fix problems two and three at the same time, or shortly thereafter, as well.
Once you get problem one, and perhaps two and three fixed, problems four through ten vanish instantly, including problem number seven. The system begins to work correctly once again.
Not only have you fixed problem number seven, but you fixed all ten problems, without even addressing problem seven.
Isn’t that cool? That’s exactly how systems are fixed or improved.
If it’s so simple, why doesn’t everyone do this? Why does everyone focus all their energy on the wrong part of the system (problem seven) instead of focusing on problem number one? That’s because:
1. Problem number one isn’t something that bothers you very much. Problem number seven really bothers you. You get no emotional reward by working on problem number one, but you get tremendous emotional validation working on problem number seven even if you never fix it.
2. Problem number one is usually much more difficult to fix than problem seven. Problem seven seems fixable to you. Problem number one seems impossible (though it usually isn’t). So you take the path of least resistance and throw yourself at problem seven instead, declaring that problem one is either not that important, or “impossible” to fix.
3. All of your friends also think problem seven is where the focus should be. Focusing on problem seven builds consensus and a feeling of community (and later, group think). If you instead focus on problem number one, people are going to be upset with you. The social pressures and rewards of focusing on problem seven are huge.
This is why the world is so full of completely broken or shockingly inefficient systems.
Let’s run through a few examples of how this works in the real world.
Left-wing SJW Example: College is so expensive now that government needs to pay for it.
Yes, but why is college expensive? You’re not asking that question, because you’re just looking at your “problem seven” instead of looking at the entire system.
The reason college is so expensive is because of government interference and support to what used to be a largely independent college system. When government left colleges alone, the colleges were quite affordable as compared to today. When I finished high school in 1990, not one person I knew in my class had any trouble affording college, including the poor kids.
Problem 1: Government made college expensive.
Problem 2: College-age people can’t afford college anymore.
If you’re attacking problem number two, which is what all left-wingers do, your focus is in the wrong place. Getting government to fund college will not solve the system; you’ll just create a never-ending loop where government makes college more expense, and government keeps paying for it. Eventually your taxes will go up, and/or inflation will go up, and/or your government will go bankrupt.
You should be focusing on problem number one. Take government out of college, and college will be affordable again. Problem solved.
Yes, extracting government from college will be difficult and painful. As I said, problem number one is always harder to fix than subsequent systemic problems. It’s still the problem you need to fix if you want a truly functioning system.
Alt-right Example: Too many illegal third world immigrants are pouring into our country, so we need to build a wall to keep them out.
Yes, but why are they coming here? You’re not asking that question, because you’re just looking at your “problem seven” instead of looking at the entire system.
The biggest reason third world immigrants are coming here is because they get mountains of free stuff from taxpayer-funded government. Mexicans weren’t pouring into the US prior to the 1940s welfare state, right? There you go.
Problem 1: Government introduced a welfare state on steroids that gave tons of free stuff to illegal immigrants.
Problem 2: Massive amounts of third-world immigrants poured into our country.
“Build a wall” focuses on problem number two, which is the exact wrong point in the system to focus your energy upon. Building a wall will put a dent in the problem, sure, but it won’t fix it, ever. (It’s estimated that 27% to 40% of illegal Mexicans enter the US via planes.)
If you want to fix the system, you need to focus instead on problem one; stop giving free stuff to illegal immigrants. The instant you do this, they’ll stop coming here. At a bare minimum, the only ones who will take the trouble to come here are the ones who want to work hard instead of getting a handout.
You can use this analysis and apply it to literally any systemic problem in any area: politics, economics, business, you name it.
If you’ve ever wondered why the world is so full of wasted time, wasted emotions, and mass inefficiency, this is why; people are focusing on the wrong part of the system.. the part that is emotionally satisfying to them, but not conducive to actually fixing anything.