Thursday, December 14, 2006

whistleblowers - who we usually punish

kathleen reardon:
When The System Stinks, What Can Exceptional People Do?

Astronauts are amazing people with phenomenal training and exceptional courage. But before they're launched into the relatively unknown, their colleagues on the ground conduct systems tests. Without superbly functioning back-up systems, individual astronaut years of preparation, particular missions and the Shuttle Program in general are desperately vulnerable.

So why is that so hard to understand in government?

Organizations of all types operate as systems. If something goes wrong in one part, it affects most, if not all, others. Individuals may influence systems in positive and negative ways, but to the extent that modes of operation have been firmly entrenched, only the most powerful or most courageous (such as whistleblowers - who we usually punish) can initiate substantial change. Even then, the typical system resists, often because so many groups and individuals are benefiting from the status quo.

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