Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Diplomate, American Board
of Psychiatry and Neurology
"All the world's a stage,
and the men and women merely players."
-- As You Like It (II, vii, 139-143)
simply, functionality is the ability to perform a job smoothly,
efficiently, and correctly. For example, when someone says: "My
car doesnít function anymore," they may mean that their car gets bad gas
mileage, takes to much effort to maintain, and generally doesn't perform
First, letís take a look at some functional
organizations. Take movie-making, for example.
The key person is the casting director. The concept of casting
extends not only to the actors, but also to choosing the array of
technical and support people. These decisions are critical to the
success of the movie. Everyone has a unique and special
personality. It is the job of the casting director to coordinate
these personalities in such a fashion that everyone can function
together. Such decisions can make or break the movie.
principles apply in any successful business organization.
The management knows what personality characteristics are right for a
given position. From a wide variety of applicants, they select the
person best suited for the job - the person who most exhibits the
desired characteristics. Imagine companies like Yahoo!, Sony,
General Mills, or Toyota. They must be making good hiring decisions, and
function with a minimum of red tape.
In government, however, we see the
opposite: dysfunctionality. We witness terrible, costly decisions
being made. Consider the Vietnam War, which lasted over ten years, cost
billions of dollars, destroyed thousands of lives, and accomplished
nothing. We see votes cast along party lines, with people voting
according to their political party rather
than using their individual judgment. This leads to gridlock, leaving
our political system like a car stalled in traffic.
If an organization is extremely dysfunctional,
then there is something in its core structure that is
improperly designed. Our challenge is to find that root cause and
fix it. When the underlying flaws are corrected, government,
schools, and health-care will become highly functional organizations.
Our government is based on the principle that it
is of the people, by the people, and for the people.
This essentially means that we are in charge. And if our
government is going to change, it is our responsibility to change it.
We will have to take on the job of the casting director. To do
our job effectively, we will need to get rid of the red tape and the
To do our job
effectively, we will need the ability to choose from a
universe of people to fill these crucial roles.
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