Broken Systems

Our company policy means that you are ineligible for the bonus if you tender your resignation at this point. From the management point of view, it is to discourage resignation at this point of time, or to retain the staff for another month. Question is, what was the bonus for in the first place? Is it to reward you for the work you have done, or the work you are about to do? And what does talent retention really mean? That your people do not resign? Or that you’re developing them, deploying them in the right places befitting of their intellectual capacity, interest, and challenging them?

We’ve all encountered broken systems. They’re systems that are perpetuated because someone decides to follow rules and policies in a legalistic manner, forgetting what they were for in the first place. When we fail to honour and uphold the spirit of a law, but instead, just the letter of the law, systems are likely broken.

Those are points when we need to question who our systems are serving, and whether we designed them to work in the way they are working. Increasingly, there’s polarisation in politics and the world – and we come face to face with the point that some of these ‘brokenness’ is actually systems working as they are intended: to perpetuate the power of those who are already leading/ruling, to define merit in a way that legitimises further those who wield power, and to preserve the structure in place in society, in name of harmony and stability. Such thoughts can be dangerous but they are a culmination of leaders who refuse to admit mistakes, who do not take responsibility for their mistakes and the brokenness of systems that they have set in place.