Saturday, December 16, 2006

Decision Making and Entropy

I framed two hypotheses during my business career, hypotheses of which I am still enamored. One, people make many more wrong decisions than right decisions in large organizations. Two, no matter what decisions people make and agree upon, organizational entropy always sets in to thwart those decisions. The reasonably trained and experienced decision maker and project manager know these things. That is why they monitor their decisions and take steps to avoid project disasters.

The Iraq invasion and occupation is a good example of this. Every step of the decision making process, from analysis to execution, has been hopelessly flawed.

The Bush Administration fabricated the case for WMD and an al-Qaeda link to Saddam. The potential for civil war was totally disregarded. The military was given nowhere near the resources they needed to secure and occupy the country. The reconstruction team was staffed with Bush loyalists who had no qualifications for the jobs they were given. The Iraq project was never reevaluated in terms of goals, strategies, tactics, and entropy.

President Bush and his team should no longer be the decision making authorities about what happens in Iraq. They have shown they are not qualified for the job. Holding them accountable is damned near impossible in the current political environment, but we should not expect anything good to happen unless we try. Why accept from them what we do not tolerate in our personal lives?


At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lynn,

I know I'm entering a minefield here, but let me respond to your frequent posts about the Iraqi situation.

You are right in your analysis of the present predicament and the bureaucratic failures leading the alliance (hey, we even have about 300 Danish troops stationed in the Basra area) into the chaos now.

I was a supporter of the original invasion and the overthrow of the murderous Sadam regime. I celebrated the fall of a brutal dictator, the two democratic elections, and the promise of a new beginning.

The problem is that the U.S. has never been an imperialistic power, and never will be, in the sense of the British empire a 100 years ago.

The U.S. does not have the patience, nor the wish to go beyond the "quick fix" = you go in, get rid of the dictator, and get home fast.

Now, I know this sounds as if I'm in favor of ugly imperialism - but were we not all for the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan?

Geopolitics is messy, power corrupt (and necessary), morality a luxury, reality gray, absolutism scary, and brute force sometimes the only way.

I don't have any solutions to the squalid quicksand of Iraq today. Is it just to get the hell out, or is it to follow the timid suggestions of the Baker-Hamilton report?

Today we demand fast answers to slow problems.

I'm torn. And sick and tired of the whole cesspool.

But do we really want the old days of Saddam back?

I know this is the slick question, but isn't it (still) a relevant one?

Idealistically yours,

Orla Schantz

At 7:45 AM, Blogger Lynn said...

Orla -

“But do we want the old days of Saddam back?”

The US has not traditionally busied itself much with overthrowing ruthless dictatorships. Why depose Saddam, of all people, at this time? WMD, al Qaeda, democracy, freedom no longer answer the question.

Bad projects poorly executed lead to disaster and ruin. I am firmly convinced that any solution to the violence in Iraq must come from Iraqis. A US troop presence in Iraq will not help. People ask the troops to do the impossible. They cannot bring political stability to the country. There is no point in spending more time and resources on a failed project.

Recognizing Iraq as a failed project is part of the problem. However, the reality remains. Once you drop an egg on the floor and it splatters all over the place, you cannot put it neatly back into the shell.


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