Heroes are Symptoms of a Broken System

Why are heroes symptoms of a broken system? When a system works well, the regular efforts of people are enough to fulfill the system’s purpose. When it is broken, people need to go above and beyond.

  • If financial systems operated diligently, bailouts would be small and caused by an external disaster.
  • If work was effectively planned and coordinated, overtime would be reserved for truly unpredictable staffing shortages.
  • If Gotham’s justice system effectively addressed crime, there would have been no need for Bruce Wayne to become Batman.

This may all sound obvious, but we still hear plenty of examples where people use acts of heroism as purely good signs. Something along the lines of, “Isn’t it great that someone went above and beyond to save us?” No. At best, it is lucky on 3 counts:

  1. There was someone around to be the hero.
  2. The hero wasn’t burnt out from their last act.
  3. The hero actually succeeded.

Fortunately, problems are increasingly predictable and preventable. Are you humble, effective, and engaged enough to take advantage; or are you too arrogant, bureaucratic, and complacent?

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