MasterPo says: This blog is about topics and issues that are of importance to me. I am not one of the countless blogging lemmings that are tripping over each other scurrying down the hill and off the cliff of blogging oblivion trying to write the greatest blog on the latest topic de'jour. Your comments are welcome.

October 15, 2009

Cause and Effect: A Systems' Point of View

When I was in school we were taught that a "system" is a set of interrelated parts working together towards a common goal or purpose. Each part may or may not know what that goal or purpose is.

They may not even be aware of any other parts of the system. That is, each piece operates independently of the others (more or less) but all are part of the total overall function of the system.

As such, the work of one part of the system may not know what the impact of its work is on the overall goal of the system. Equally, if the work of one part of the system changes it may or may not know the impact that has on the overall operation of the system.

For example, the driver is the controller of the system we call a car. The goal of the system is to get the driver from A to B. The car system is made up of many smaller parts (sub-systems). Each knows what it has to do but doesn’t have a clue what the overall goal is of how it's work (or non-work) affects the other parts. So when the drive steps on the brakes the brakes know to slow and eventually stop the car (I know it's an inanimate object but work with me).

But the brakes don't know why they are being called upon to stop the car. It could because the car has reached its' destination. It could be due to traffic. Or it could be to avoid hitting another car! The breaks don't care as long as the car slows down.

Similarly, if the brakes fail to slow the car the brakes don't know the ramification on car system. The brakes don't know that not doing their job means the car bumps the curb or smashes into a tree! It doesn't care either way.

This applies to people systems as well as mechanical systems. One agency, office, department is just part of an overall system of the organization which itself can be part of a larger organization. The work done or not done can (and usually does) ripple throughout the overall organization and impact the results. Often with unexpected and very negative consequences.
As an old saying goes: Garbage in, garbage out.

This concept applies very well to laws and regulations. It is in that context I continue.

To say there is much debate about what the proposed healthcare plan, specifically H.R. 3200, does and doesn't do, covers and doesn't cover, and what the impact may be is an understatement.

My views on the plan as it is currently proposed in H.R. 3200 have been well document on other sites so I'm not going to rehash it now.

I do, however, want to address the great unknown of the plan in the context of systems and unforeseen outcomes.

Chaos Theory
The Butterfly Effect
Law Unintended Consequences

Whatever you wish to call it the fact is that sweeping laws and regulatory changes often come with a barrel of unintended and unforeseen events. While I agree that isn't a reason not to undertake certain changes, when dealing with such sweeping and far reaching changes haste and get-it-done attitudes are not what is needed.

The problem didn't form overnight. Neither should the answer.

There is a saying: "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions."

No comments: