I Don’t Serve Systems
It’s a strange experience to read a science-managerial text on compliance. It’s strange because of the absence of any reference to human interaction or social psychological influences on behavior and human decision making. This is the case with Singh and Bussen’s book ‘Compliance Management, A How-to Guide for Executives, Lawyers and Other Compliance Professionals’. Amazing how a book can discuss ethics and obedience and yet make no reference to the part humans play in ethics and obedience. How interesting to discuss the need for compliance because the nature of systems is to obey them and because non-compliance costs money??? Very much like safety that studies objects as if people don’t activate them.
How much more different and realistic is Pratkanis’ book ‘The Science of Social Influence, Advances and Future Progress’. Unfortunately Pratkanis feels the compulsion to use the word ‘science’ in the title but there is little science in the discussion of hundreds of social influences that shape behavior and decision making. How strange that the word ‘science’ is used to authenticate knowledge when the constructions of science are just as subjective in discourse as any other discipline’s ontology (see Hesse, Kuhn, Laktos, Feyerbend, Popper, Potter and Wetherell etc). Even the mythology of replication for validation is a scientific myth that is used to subjectively justify the highly negotiable nature of events.
We learned recently that mining of Facebook data has been used to sway decision making in various populations (http://theconversation.com/how-cambridge-analyticas-facebook-targeting-model-really-worked-according-to-the-person-who-built-it-94078). How strange that the use of propaganda and spin can sway the voting patterns of a population. Ha, Joseph Goebbels knew that 85 years ago! Goebbels was master of compliance to systems. The Nazi’s weren’t monsters, just amazing bureaucrats and masters of Technique in social influence. Meissner, Adorno, Levinson, Milgram, Zimbardo, Hoffer and host of others have demonstrated so. One of several hundred social influences is disinformation. Watch Merchant’s of Doubt (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqiCLuOtXts&pbjreload=10) to get an understanding of how this works (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merchants_of_Doubt). Goebbels was the master of disinformation in order to get compliance to systems.
A system of course, is designed by a person. The system disguises the ontology and philosophy of the creator. A checklist or process is not neutral, there are no neutral objective systems just as there are no neutral objective people. All systems are designed and bear the bias of the system designer. It’s just that designers rarely inform people who use the system of their bias or design purpose. This is most pronounced in safety regarding incident investigations. It doesn’t matter whether one uses iCam, TapRoot, Bow Tie or Root Cause, the system bears the reductionist mechanistic design of the creator. There are of course other ways of doing investigations that don’t use such methodology. Every methodology has its own anthropology, its own view of what it is to be human. In some cases some methodologies are designed to dehumanize people. Safety has turned such methodologies into an art form.
Humans are not ‘factors’ in a system. I don’t do ‘human factors’. I don’t serve systems, systems serve me and the community I live and work in. Life is not some machine of which I am a part. Life is an organism in which I live. If a system doesn’t help humanize people then it’s a bad system, ditch it.