Early Visions | Bay Area 2020: An Infinite Game | Three Design Flaws as Root Cause

3. Three fatal design flaws — Our theory as to the root cause of our dysfunctional patterns.

All organizations have been perfectly designed... to get the results they get.

Humans designed all of the organizations making up the above organizational domains. It is these organizations that are holding our existing patterns in place. Path B is a direct consequence of our designs.

Most organizations in all domains share at least three potentially fatal design flaws that are at the root of our evolutionary dilemma:

Three Design Flaws
  1. Narrow and limited definitions of "success."

  2. Mechanistic, "control-over-people" cultures.

  3. No provision for on-going generative design.

How does your organization rate versus these three flaws?
  1. Narrow and limited definitions of "success." How much energy does organizational leadership focus on the acquisition, accumulation and growth of money and control (in all its forms), versus focusing on processes that sustain and continually improve the well-being of their immediate and extended stakeholder families?

  2. Mechanistic, "control-over-people" cultures. Is yours a top-down "carrot and stick" culture, or are its processes and structures designed to empower people at all levels to have control over their lives and the outcomes from their work?

  3. No provision for on-going generative design. Are organizational changes generally crises-driven or is there a well-distributed organizational capacity to continually evolve itself to higher orders of value-adding contribution?
These three correctible flaws have made our organizing systems incredibly weighty—a millstone around the neck of global well-being. Like the caterpillar that consumes 40 times its body weight every day, our organizing forms are ripe for metamorphosis. However, unlike the caterpillar, our organizations haven't been designed for such transformational shifts (See Design Flaw #3).

As a consequence of 1) not recognizing, much less acting to correct these flaws, and 2) the spaghetti-like interdependencies among all these organizational domains, even the most conscious and powerful leaders in the most powerful organizations in the most powerful domains feel overwhelmed and relatively helpless in changing the trajectory for their organizations, much less for the larger whole. Less powerful participants (especially those without voice) see "The System" as impenetrable, oppressive, exploitive, unconscious, unaccountable and uncaring. The choice to "keep on keeping on" is mostly fed by this pervasive sense of hopelessness and helplessness both within and around all of the above organizational domains.