I see it again and again. The suggestion of systems thinkers and Agile writers to stop blaming people and instead try blaming the system.
“It’s not the people who perform badly, it’s the system that doesn’t enable people to perform.”
“It’s not the employees’ decisions that are wrong, it’s the rules and procedures we should get rid of.”
“It’s not the individuals who screw up, it’s the organization that drives everyone to failure.”
Who created that bad “system”? Did some alien life form impose it on the people?
What are those rules and procedures actually? Are they how we program human beings?
What is the “organization” really? Can we point at it, without pointing to ourselves?
Blaming the System? What System?
Seriously, what is the difference between blaming other people versus blaming the system? It seems to me it’s all the same, as long as we’re not blaming ourselves!
One of my best friends has been hating her job for years, and I’m sure many of her 4,000 colleagues feel the same. How much does it help her switching from blaming her colleagues to blaming the system? I’d say, “blame yourself!”
The “system” is 4000 colleagues just like her who make each others lives miserable every day. The “rules and procedures” are people’s own behaviors that they inflict upon each other. And their “organization” only exists because 4,000 people have collectively decided not to quit their jobs.
If you want a bad system to go away you should stop helping harmless abstract things such as systems, rules, and procedures to be turned into a horrible reality. Only people have that power.