Many years ago I had a beautiful Golden retriever named Nina. Every time I walked Nina past a particular house, a terrier there would bark ferociously at her, and one day got through the fence and bit her. Naturally, Nina was not happy about this, and it was quite a drama separating them. Following this event I couldn’t walk her past that house again.
The owner of the terrier had a 1975 Land cruiser with a loud motor. We would hear the motor start and would drive past our house with the terrier sticking his head out of the window barking. An infuriated Nina learned the sound of the motor and would run to the front fence whenever she heard it. This occurred for several years.
At some point the terrier disappeared, but Nina would still react and bark at the Land Cruiser. Nina had a lovely puppy, Lucy. Of course Lucy learned everything from her mother and also ran, barking ferociously, when she heard the Land Cruiser. One day we were devastated with the loss of Nina to a tiger snake. Lucy is no longer a puppy. She is by now an old girl, and she continues to follow the rule, that when one hears a 1975 Land Cruiser, one must run to the fence and bark ferociously at it. She will teach other dogs that this is the system. Like Lucy, they won’t know why, and like Lucy they won’t question why.
This is how ‘systems’ are born, and evolve into unnecessary ritual. They make sense at the time but become inefficient, unnecessary, and unquestioned. Every organisation is full of these systems. Especially prone are government departments such as Child Protection and Care systems who, due to short electoral terms need to adopt new systems every 3 or 4 years, whilst keeping others, that although no longer make any sense, remain unquestioned. They continue to bark at Land Cruisers and have no idea why.
So have the courage to ask the question, “why do we bark at Land Cruisers?”