Posted by: Ian Bruk | October 31, 2006

Competence Trap Decisions In Government

I applaud the Vancouver Sun for placing their story “Canada isn’t winning hearts and minds” on the front page of their October 30 edition.

Norine MacDonald is quoted in the interview as saying:

“It’s generally accepted that the military needs a good parallel hearts-and-minds campaign to provide a positive environment for military success, but there is no hearts-and-minds campaign,”

I assume this is an exagerration that there is no campaign but when I read the whole article it alludes to the possibility that government decision making may be suffering from what has been called a competence trap. I posted BubbleGeneration’s definition before:

competence trap: your competence becomes a rigidity – it’s the only thing you really know how to, so you keep investing in it; even when the market’s collapsed it’s value completely

Basically  in reading about Norine MacDonald I get the feeling that she has a greater understanding of Afghanistan than the people making the decisions. The reason bad decisions are being made is that the current design of our government could possibly foster competence traps. The only way to get people like Norine MacDonald to make the decisions is to apply a social networking effect to government decision making. The trouble is government will of course act in its own best interests and would see this as a threat to itself.  Hence, we get situations like the one Norine MacDonald describes:

“They’re getting it fundamentally wrong,” she said, “and the young Canadian men and women who are fighting there are paying the first price. The Afghans are paying the second price.”



  1. Peace people

    We love you

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