on 10 October 2012
Do we ask the correct questions ?
Most of us react to any problem presented, by seeking a solution and that is ok, but how often do we end up with a wrong solution and why.
Finding a solution to a problem presupposes that the problem or question is valid and correctly stated or identified. Experience shows that this assumption can be an enormous mistake.
For those reading this comment and thinking "this guy is smoking something" I would suggest a quick read of this.
Groupthink has many nasty repercussions and we can all fall into this trap. The concept is not confined to decisions that are made but more often to the questions that are posed in the first place. How often, in this politically correct world, do we adjust how we frame a question for fear of offending somebody in a group?.
The results of posing the wrong question can result in complete disasters but there is one more element to add into this equation. The person or group formulating the question is often not qualified to do so and solutions proposed as a result are almost always guaranteed to be bad.
To gain some clarity in the examples provided below, I will not deal with individuals but rather with groups as the dynamic of individual interactions is the amplifier for Groupthink.
Western Australian government - recently they closed down a "Shared Services" project they initiated a few years ago. The project had a budget of $ 78 Million and a project savings result of $ 57 million per year.
The project had blow out to $ 444 million and closing it down will cost around $ 1 Billion due to long term contracts.
Queensland Government - Implemented a new payroll system for their health services. This resulted in staff being overpaid or not paid at all. The response to this disaster was to ignore the plight of the staff affected by this stupidity, followed by writing off $ 62 million in over payments while some staff have still not been paid correctly.
This disaster has been ongoing for several years and the repair bill is currently $ 290 Million, while the people who caused this mess are still employed and the two people ( scapegoats ) fired as a result, have been reappointed as consultants.
The new Intelligence Apparatus ( read the full article )
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.
[We] discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counter-terrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
This happens in every country, in governments and private enterprise and I could provide thousands of examples, but lets get back to where we started by asking this simple question - How can this happen, not just once but repeatedly.
Simply put, the wrong questions are asked and the wrong problem stated.
Decisions are then made to provide some perceived solution to the stated problem.
No accountability for the results or some supposed action taken to "correct" the identified problem.
As this appears to be the norm, we are presented with opportunities to not make the same mistakes, to examine stated problems far more carefully. As and when a solution is proposed we need to question how or if the solution will resolve the problems.
It has been said that it is hard to get somebody to understand something, when his pay-cheque is reliant on him Not understanding.