Seeing complex situations through one point of view

It feels like we, as humans, are not capable of processing certain questions above a certain level of complexity. For example, “should you be allowed to carry a gun in public?”

Some people say, “well, imagine a bad guy, who gets a gun illegally anyway, and opens fire on a bunch of good people; if one of those good people had a gun, they could shoot him back and save lots of lives!”

Sure. But you’re taking a laser view into a complex system. We don’t know what happens to everyone else in the scene (or everyone outside the scene), how often the shooting-him-back works, or even how often this situation would happen at all.

Similarly, you see one person on welfare buying a steak, you figure they’re all living the high life. So you propose a bunch of new laws to stop this exact case (with a bunch of collateral damage). It’s like balancing on a tightrope, and you start to notice that your left side is a little too high, so you have someone hand you a 50-lb weight in your left hand.

Service Design is a neat new concept (or maybe old, I lose 10 designer-cred points because I wasn’t into it before it was cool) from designers where they at least try┬áto give you a structured way to look at all the people in these situations. Most of the benefit, I think, comes from writing them all down on paper and arranging them in a diagram. At least you have to think about them all and consider more than one laser view in your response to a situation.

Eh, it’s not perfect. But showing me a diagram would at least convince me more than your one-laser-view argument.


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