How to identify room for improvement

This is applicable in general, and thus I'll begin with a simple, but very powerful example:

Think of legislation. How could one identify a need for reforms?

One way is, I suppose, to look at popularity and effectiveness.*

popular & effective policies
are already enacted

popular & ineffective policies
are likely** already enacted but shouldn't be (need for repeal)

unpopular & ineffective policies
are likely not enacted and shouldn't be

unpopular & effective policies
are likely not enacted but should be (need for constructive reform)

... and if you draw this as a matrix don't forget the wide gray cross separating the four cells.

The inability to repeal popular & ineffective policies and the inability to enact unpopular & effective policies is what marks the phase of stagnation or slow development that democracies move into after enacting lots of popular & effective policies and getting rid of lots of unpopular & ineffective policies. That's when people begin to take the achievements as self-evident, become dissatisfied with stagnation and willing to experiment.

Add my frequent remarks about how armed services are bureaucracies that pursue their self-interest over the nation's interests as well as people being guided by their preferences*** and you have a powerful framework for a hunt for inefficiencies and room for improvement in the armed forces.

What ways and means are aligned with the bureaucracy's self-interest or decisionmakers' preferences (popularity)?
What way and means work elsewhere or worked in the past or in experiments, but are not implemented in the armed forces or a specific branch thereof (effectiveness)?


*:Effectiveness regarding pursuit of the nation's well-being.
**: This applies in both democracies and dictatorships. people in democracies underestimate how most dictators are busy building and sustaining the critical mass of support. They don't necessarily seek the popular support, but at the very least the support of influential persons (security apparatus, industry captains/oligarchs, tribal chieftains, high-ranking clerics). Dictators who reign with an iron fist and simply break all opposition by "terror" like Stalin, Mao or the Kims are quite rare. Even Hitler and Mussolini weren't of that kind.
***: Such as generals who were fighter pilots being biased in favour of solutions that involve combat aircraft over solutions that involve missile launch containers.


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