Why Do Many of Our Systems Seem to be Broken?

Moderator: Joan Wofford
Time: Thursdays, 9:30–11:30 am
Place: Lathrop Communities, 1 Shallowbrook Lane (off Bridge Road), Northampton
Parking: Ample parking on site

This seminar will focus on a process of identifying dysfunctional systems and explore a methodology for confronting their current deficiencies.

Most organizations today are run according to the managerial concepts developed and perfected in the early 20th century. Those ideas and practices which broke tasks into their smallest pieces enabled the accomplishments of the Industrial Revolution and modern ideas of efficiency. In the 21st century, however, many current organizations and institutions, also managed according to those same principles, seem out of kilter with the realities they face. These institutions include health care, education, criminal justice, capitalism, political institutions, transportation systems etc. In fact, one often hears them referred to as “broken.”

This seminar will focus on a process of identifying dysfunctional systems and explore a methodology for confronting their current deficiencies. We will use a recent book that lays out the organizational theory of the past and then examines the discrepancies encountered by the general leading US counter terrorism in Iraq in which our superiority in elite troops and technology was unable to defeat far less organized and equipped forces.

While in part, a book about war, its author, General McChrystal, (who also teaches at Yale) illustrates his theory with other high profile endeavors like a Boston hospital’s response to the Marathon bombing and the analysis of plane accidents.

Format: Seminar

Role of participants: Choose a dysfunctional institution and examine the assumptions on which it is built.

Number of participants (including the moderator): 18

Resources: Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal, Penguin, 2015

The Moderator: Joan Wofford has moderated many seminars and has taught and published in the field of Organizational Behavior.