Naive Objectivity and the McNamara Fallacy

In this age of dataharvest many feel a sense of empowerment in their ability to measure and extrapolate from measurement. And indeed, measurement is a magnificently useful tool. But if held too tightly, if the seeming certainty it provides becomes a motivation in itself, the process of measurement can turn on its user. One common way the tool ...

Fukushima nuclear disaster and systemic pathology

I found a journal article that looked at the Fukushima disaster in Japan from a systemic perspective. It argues that there were three main organization-oriented problems leading to the disaster: 1. The power plant was built in a known earthquake zone. 2. Aging of plant equipment, and intentional concealment of associated problems. 3. Deterioration of governing organizations to ...

The Cost of Better Information

Many well-intentioned IT pros assume that the basic problem of management is lack of better information. If you're in the business of building information systems, better often implies more, and better certainly implies sooner. Here's a news article about the side-effects of giving ubiquitous medical information access to medical professionals. We've created a beautiful map of you, and ...

Intended Unintended Consequences

There's been a national stir recently over Alabama's tougher immigrations laws. Many have cited the unintended consequences of the law which sought to protect American workers but ended up hurting American business. It's a textbook case of pushback. But what if the stir wasn't an unintended consequence. Unless the law was created by total shut-ins, ...

Sure It’s Fun–Until Someone Gets Hurt!

I came across an interesting article on over-regulating playground safety. Fear of litigation has caused New York City officials to remove equipment deemed dangerous (like see-saws) and replace them with safer (and more boring) playground equipment. Safety-first playgrounds take a simplistic approach to safety. They are concerned with safety in the a particular situation, and so ...