November 28, 2011

Ignore the man speeding through a red light

This was the attitude of one person, who I believe represents

many others. In my neighborhood association, someone posted

about a specific driver who sped across a yellow line and then

ran a red light. A neighbor who was almost in an accident with

an offender vented in a reasonable post to their neighbors.

One person responded saying that they should have gone

to the city to "fix that intersection". Talk about diffusion of

responsibility. Instead of blaming a specific person who clearly

disregards rules, this person is thus inclined to let government

somehow find their own solutions without identifying specific

individuals. So considering the facts, look at the inconsistency:

we appeal to government to somehow create more rules

to stop someone who does not follow the rules. Keep in mind,

we know what the problem is. It’s not an inanimate government.

It's that individual.

November 19, 2011

Individuals Hiding Behind Bureaucracy

I cringe every time I have to deal with a large corporation for a problem with a bill or service. I know there are going to be at least five minutes working through a phone tree. My issue is rarely one of the twenty I have to listen through. When I do speak with a person, they are usually limited with what they can do. The typical answer is, "I understand your issue, but it's not something I or my manager can fix. I am sorry but I need to forward you to..." Rarely has even a simple answer taken less than an hour to resolve. More importantly, I always feel so alone against "the system".

The problem is diffusion of responsibility. The entity is understandably managing its risk by limited what any one person can do. Bureaucratic processes make it hard for any individual to deviate from their system. They leave it up to the system, but the offset of this is disempowering individuals. Disempowered individuals disassociate themselves from responsibility. "I'm not equipped to do anything about that, so I am not responsible." The anecdotes are endless. Eventually, bad process lead good people to do bad things they would not have done if held personally responsible. In the end, the bureaucracy generates negative effects and frustration through the actions of individuals without any individuals feeling responsible for their quota. And this is how bureaucracies have more proclivity for immoral actions than individuals, even though the true perpetrators in the system are still individuals hiding behind bureaucracy.