August 11, 2005
-- by Dave Johnson
A comment by Ian Welsh at this post: Run Everywhere, Build Everywhere:
Stirling once formulated that insiders understand pressures and the outsiders understand consequences. I've found the same thing at work during periods when I've worked closely with management - you understand how they see the world and the constraints and pressures they work under, the inside politics of the corporation and you come to understand why the things that should be done "can't" be done.
And if you get sucked in too far you start to think that the pressures are all that matters and that how something will actually work doesn't matter. Because if you please the right people it doesn't really matter whether what you did is "good" by some sort of independent metric, because there is no independent metric other than what your superiors think.
But if you actually want a well run company, or a well run party, or a well run country or to be winners as a team, then the consequences matter. Of course, you may go to the floor and lose to the internal enemies (and I have done so).
The good guys don't often win, the entrenched interests do. And people who want a political career have to understand that to get paid they need to make sure the right people like them. But that sort of cognitive dissonance is painful, so over time they come to believe the people with power are right.
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Is this an excuse for the amoral and incompetent? Or just an explanation? In either case, who cares? We already knew they have to go. Where's the big fucking insight?
Actually I forgot the most important descriptive term: cowardly. The people described in the quoted material are amoral and incompetent, but mostly they are cowards.
Yeah, it's always easiest to be cowardly and run with the crowd. There's no better way to kill a corporation, either -- I know because I've been there. When a terrified boss warned me not to do what I was planning to do, because "they" wouldn't like me, I replied that I didn't like "them" either. The result of doing what I thought was right? I got promoted. Of course if the Very Top Guys are all corrupt, this doesn't work. In that case the best thing to do is to get off the ship before it sinks. And it will.
"Conventional" wisdom (and supposed insight) just doesn't work. A coward who caves in is exactly that and nothing else, of no use to anybody, whether it's a corporation or politics.
Somehow we've got to let Dean know that he doesn't exactly really stand alone.
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