A crisis. Years in the making

Published in Decision Making, Complexity, Democracy, Systems Thinking on Jul 7, 2022

Political commentary is not the purpose of this site but over the past few days we have seen an almost-record walk-out of MPs from Boris Johnson's government.

Cries are going up from each side of the debate but one is particularly interesting to the subject of decision-making.

The argument is that removing Bojo now is bad for the country at a point of multiple crisies. There is both a sunk-cost falacy to this and also a snapshot-falacy, the What You See Is All There Is bias.

There are also a chain of decisions that have been made by the MPs both quitting and staying, that have led us to where we are now - with no discussion of the process that led us to the point where we are facing the crisis of decision that is "do we keep an amoral, lying leader" vs. "do we further destabalise the nation we are supposed to be serving?".

The reality that this is now the decision being faced by our leading party is itself terrifying. The fact that this wasn't addressed further down the decision-chain is an actual national scandal.

Just to be clear here. I don't believe that any political party, organisation or individual can claim immunity to these behaviours.

But the chain goes back a long way

An ancient network of disparate decisions led us to the point of Boris being elected to leader of the Conservative Party, some of them unreviewed in centuries: Political structure decisions about how the public vote should be counted and how the whip system (among others) should work, individual decisions about optimising political careers, decisions about the needs for 'new life' in the party. A web of decisions that could take a career to unpick.

But there are some key inflection points at which the decision-chain could have been interrupted at low cost. At the point of his being voted the leader of the Conservative Party Boris' numerous infidelities were already clearly documented. Infidelity to truth, his employers, the British public and to his own marital vows.

But without an interruption to the decision-chain the context meant that these were overlooked by those voting for his ascension.

And now the party is up in arms about his dishonesty.

And we face the unpalatable decision of sticking with a failed leader or facing further destablisation as a nation.

This is a crisis. But it has been years in the making. Resignations now don't alter the responsibilities that all of us have to review and understand the decision-chains that wrap around us, and take meaningful steps to address them. As early as we are able.