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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tyranny is also bad process

When one attends classes at the Project Management Institute (PMI) one sees process diagrams for project management everywhere. The principles of governing a project, it turns out, are pretty much the same whether the project is a government project, a household project, or any short term endeavor with a start date and an end date. Similarly a program office has more complex processes, and these process interface with project management, but the basic processes of program management are the same whether one is looking at a small program or a large one.  The reality is that the same thing is true with governing bodies of sentient beings.  The processes of democracy either embody principles of good government, which means good governing processes, or they don’t. 
Unfortunately, the optimization of governing processes depends on who the nominal and real stakeholders are, and so many governing institutions are optimized for a small subset of their stakeholders – and this is not only almost a definition and source of corruption but is also bad process.  Bad process fails because it drives system failure.  Systems not optimized for the well-being of the system – which implies the well-being of all the stakeholders are dysfunctional by design.  They also are tyranny as defined by John Locke:
199. “As usurpation is the exercise of power which another hath a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to; and this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private, separate advantage. When the governor, however entitled, makes not the law, but his will, the rule, and his commands and actions are not directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or any other irregular passion."[1]
Maximizing the general welfare and preventing “private, separate advantage” and the resulting reign of “ambition, revenge, covetousness…” is about tyranny, but it also is about bad process.  The virtues of good process outweigh the expediency of tyranny, and this will become readily apparent to anyone who thinks about it a while. So let us architect governmental processes that will allow us to recognize and fix systemic tyranny and generally improve the function of our government.

Note: source is John Locke's Two Treatises on Government.

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