An All Too Human System

I came across a great illustration the other day of what the morass of legal issues can look like for, and from the perspective of, regular people.  Humans we may call them.

Screenshot 2015-02-07 09.02.52The graphic was created and posted by a Stanford Law grad who is obsessed with bridging her design training with her legal studies to produce solutions that work for people — both from the vantage points of clients and from the vantage point of lawyers.  You might even call it an economic efficiency model.  But you could also look at it as a means of understanding why ‘the law’ stresses so many of us out, both when we are engaged as consumers in the legal system and as advocates. (check out

The idea is, the systems we tend to design often function not so much to serve us but to complicate our lives.  In other words, whether it is a transportation issue, a medical issue or a legal issue, our bureaucracies frequently create more problems than we start with, which inhibits our ability to effectively (and efficiently) problem-solve.  That is, in short, what I think this picture is trying to convey.

There is a flip side to this too though.  And that is how representational this illustration is of what is going on within individuals when we are confronted with such an external morass of problems.  My take is there is an internal aspect of this bureaucracy, an emotional, psychological dimension of this stressful problem-solving landscape that generates fear in us, which further inhibits our ability to move forward in innovative and sustainable ways.  Essentially, the systems we have created to serve us actually shoot us in the collective foot.  And this phenomenon, this feedback loop of anti-progress is what keeps us often from feeling functional (well), and by extension, from remedying the underlying issues which have created the conflict we are experiencing in the first place.

My solution?  Let’s attempt to deal with the morass as it exists inside us as well as the morass as it exists outside, so that our process for disentangling what is at issue can emerge in a way that is fundamentally different from the mode of or approach to thinking that has gotten us to a place of challenge originally.  Let’s address the problems facing us from an internal (human) perspective as well as from an outside, tactical one.  Let’s use our understanding of how inefficient systems effect us internally in order to affect them externally…

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