Systems

Systems are only as good as the people that use them. But systems are how things scale and grow and create new opportunity.

Something I think about every time I get in a car and drive is how transportation systems work in our society. Street lights, stop signs, lane lines, off ramps – all these things work because most people follow the rules most of the time. That’s a system – an organized set of rules with appropriate infrastructure in place that makes it possible for something to happen.

In this example of transportation, there are roads, signs and laws that people must learn before they can drive a car. If you can learn all that stuff, you can take yourself anywhere you want to go. If you don’t want to learn all that stuff or can’t for some reason, you can get someone else to do that for you, and they would have to know all those rules. Or you can just walk – but even walking has rules in the system we call society. You could just walk wherever you want, but it’s likely you’ll either get hit by a car and possibly killed or you’ll get a visit from the police.

Most people do what they’re supposed to do, most of the time. What happens when they don’t? Things break, people get hurt or new roads are cut into the landscape. Sometimes things work out and positive change happens. Sometimes things end much worse than they began.

Thinking about work – I’ve been reflecting on the systems that make things function with the work I do. In large organizations there are usually levels of authority and responsibility. There are some people that actually do the work and there are ones that make it possible for others to actually do the work. Each needs the other. Sure some could break off and go do something similar as a freelancer, but it wouldn’t be the same work as if you were working in an organization.

This idea of systems and organizations is totally flipped upside down right now because of the pandemic happening. It seems like everything has changed all at once and at the same time everything has slowed down to a near halt. What’s really fascinating is that everyone is in the same situation. Most people are all “working” from home right now and we’re all susceptible to the same dangers of disease. It’s been an interesting time and I’m excited to see what sort of new systems emerge from this situation.

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