When somebody says "This is a system problem" he or she also implies that it's a problem whose solution is beyond his or her reach. But is it? Or is just our ignorance in understanding the system preventing us from changing it and thus making the system more aligned with ourselves. And how many times do we get ourselves in a situation where we don't even see the system but treat certain phenomena as if given by the law of physics while in reality they are just the (by-)products of man-made systems, but ones evading our comprehension. The next time you'll find yourself frustrated by a bureaucrat who cannot see past the confines set on him by the organization he is serving, imagine yourself and how many invisible boundaries are constraining yourself without you noticing it. In the tutorial that I have attended yesterday at QCon in London Michael Nygard unfortunately didn't provide many methods how to influence systems, but at least he got us thinking about the systems and the problems they may cause. In particular he made a good case that since systems are amorphous and impersonal, something people cannot really understand and relate to, we tend to imagine that systems have architects, that large consequences result from large actions, and that systems have goals. But the problem with teleological explanations is that they make us abdicate our powers to change anything. If our enemy is Big Pharma, Militant scientists, or Illuminati, we are relieved of our duty to make the world around us a better place. The enemy is just too big and ourselves too powerless to really do anything. But if we accept that systems are built and operated by fallible humans, we might just see them for what they really are, a bag full of good intentions running amok.
Well, it might also very well be that Michael Nygard is really just another agent of the Bilderberg group on a mission to conceal its existence.