“People are not the point of intervention.”

~ John Seddon

John uses “point” here to mean “locus”. Put another way, he’s reminding us that if we want to see things get better, we should avoid attempting to “fix” people and rather “fix” the systems – how the work works – instead.

I wrote a post some time ago on this very topic.

But people are the point of interventions.
Here I use “point” to mean “reason” (as in basis, cause, justification).

Changing the way the work works only makes sense if the changes meet folks’ needs (or allow folks’ needs to be met in better, more effective ways).

In Patrick Lencioni’s “Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive”, his fourth obsession is:

“Reinforce organisational clarity through human systems”.

I see this as a precursor to the Antimatter Principle. Specifically, that we CAN choose to construct ways for the work to work that allow our organisations to systematically “attend to folks’ needs”.

I’ll continue to write about the nature of such systems, with practical examples and useful techniques drawn from personal experience, over the coming months.

– Bob

  1. Sami said:

    Interesting. Could you tell me where you took that John’s quote? Would be interesting to see where he has said that. Sounds not like John..

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