Looking both ways at the train tracks.

I cautiously look both ways when crossing train tracks in case the arms are broken and the system is failing to warn me. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Always trusting the systems to work isn’t in your best interest. They are there to protect you from yourself, on a day where you are tired or less alert than normal. If the system “thinks” something is happening or not, it doesn’t mean that it’s correct. It’s a real possibility the system has failed and no one has yet noticed anything out of place. For the train tracks, especially ones that carry passenger trains, it’s likely someone will notice this extremely quickly. Likely the same day.

For systems that predict fires, it may be years if no fires or smoke-filled events occur.

For economic systems where all data is “murky” it may be decades to notice systemic issues.

Everyone believing that the system is working, doesn’t mean that it is. It’s always good to check that they are. Here are some systems to think about:

  • Systems for organization
  • Systems for training yourself or others
  • Systems for making sure tasks are carried out
  • Systems for warning when problems arise
  • Systems for decision-making within a group
  • Systems for alerting people
  • Systems for creating new systems (yes, this can be overlooked too).

Think about these and how they affect your lives. It’s worth a review.

P.S. Based on our technological trajectory, our future is going to be filled with more systems and less people to man them. Taking responsibility for the successes (more like the lack of failure) of these systems is going to be a valued skillset. Think about the systems you like to manage and how you can bring a little of the future to that today.