Playing God

Dave Snowden and I have had many exchanges over the years about the need to balance individual responsibility with collective change. How does any group change happen without individuals behaving differently? How much structure is optimal? When does a focus on individual change tip into what he calls New Age Fluffy Bunnydom? When does tweaking the system towards predetermined outcomes tip into playing god? A spectrum from Anarchy at one end to Facism at the other?

His recent blog post attacking the sacred cows of OD raises all of these issues for me. He is spot on about the inadequacy of our current approaches to change, and as ever I agree with what he us saying more than I disagree.


As usual I am still left feeling uneasy about who gets to play God and what their qualifications are. If they get good at manipulating the system towards predicted outcomes, but those outcomes turn out to be wrong, destructive rather than productive, is getting to the wrong place more effectively a good thing? Is our current inefficient and often ineffective way of approaching change less damaging than some mad scientist pressing all the buttons? Does replacing that mad scientist with a committee make things better or worse? Does all this apply to nation states and our current governance shambles?


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