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Value Creation Blog

Institutions Let Us Down

Posted by Josh Patrick

american institutions resized 600I’m writing this on October 16th.  We still have a shut down government and we’re all on pins and needles wondering if Congress is going to raise the debt ceiling.  Some of us are blaming the Republicans and some the Democrats.  For me, it probably should be neither.

It’s not the government it’s institutions.

Right now we’re worried about an institution called the Government.  If we go back five years we were worried about institutions called banks that were too big too fail.  If we read the news we’re worried about institutions called our educational systems that are failing us.

The problem is we’ve managed to move much of decision making away from individuals to institutions.  We believe there’s nothing we can do to change things so we let those in power make the decisions.  It’s part of the reason of why the Tea Party exists.  It’s part of the reason we had 99% protests around the country.  We know something is sick and we don’t know how to solve the problem.

Institutions drum out personal responsibility.

My biggest complaint with institutions is that those who are in charge never take personal responsibility.  They always manage to blame someone else.  They always have a personal agenda they manage to hide. 

Who knows who’s really pulling the strings behind the Government today?  We don’t know who’s whispering in the ear of any of the politicians who represent us.  People who run institutions seem to like the idea that they’re above whatever outcome they produce.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t like this.  We need to find a way to have personal responsibility as part of the deal if you’re going to run a large organization.

Institutions are faceless by design.

Large institutions always have a face and that face is rarely the one who causes mayhem.  We usually never find out who that face is.  It’s why we have such a difficult time attaching responsibility to anything institutions do.

If you have a bad experience with the health care system who do you blame?  If your child is not treated properly by the educational system who do you go after?  If the government shuts down and you’re out of work who is responsible? 

If the Government decides they don’t want to pay their debts what do you do?  You get the idea.  It’s just too hard to attach responsibility and have those who are responsible take action.

What is an institution?

I think this is an interesting question.  In my mind an institution is anything that is large, amorphous, and is impossible to understand.  It could be Government, our educational system, our prison system, the military, our health care system, or just your large local hospital.  All are institutions.  Each is hard to understand and each is bureaucratic in nature.

People who work in these organizations often feel like cogs and cogs that don’t have much influence.  Changing direction in large institutions is almost impossible.  It takes a ton of effort and time.  You are always fighting special interests.  Some of these interests are known and some aren’t.

I think we just need to learn to work around them.

I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to work through these organizations is almost impossible.  When you’re forced to work through organizations you need to find someone who cares.  You need to find someone who’s actually going to help.  Luckily I’ve been able to find these people when I’ve needed to.

Most of the time I just try to work around them.  Yes, they influence my life.  I don’t want them to control my life, just influence it.  That way I can choose whether I want to engage.  Most of the time I don’t want to engage and that’s just fine with me. 

What about you?  Do you want to engage or just ignore the large organizations in your life?

No offer this week.  Just take some time and think about how you can have a great life in-spite of the influence of organizations in your life.

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Topics: trust, asking why, Change

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