We Have to do Things Wrong, Because Everyone Else is Doing Things Wrong
This is a familiar refrain we have heard over and over – so many times we never hear it anymore. It now seems natural to us – just the way things are. It is the way things are, all right – because we have made them that way.
I will illustrate with the story of my brother who once was an idealistic young lawyer. Then he became successful and became severely depressed. Something he could not understand, and still cannot understand. But I, as an outside observer, could easily understand because he was telling me the answer himself.
He had become a partner in a law firm and his firm was telling its clients what they wanted to hear. Their reasoning was simple – that was the only way they could get business, because all the other law firms were doing the same thing. At the same time they were losing all their young lawyers – and could never figure out why, and didn’t care too much, because they were busy making money with him.
A sister was a school teacher and her school had the same problem. The teachers could not teach properly because the school administrators were not interested in teaching – and every other school was the same.
Same with software development. Software companies were producing poor software because this was the way all the software companies were.
Valiant efforts are being made to combat this in every field. Good lawyers, good schoolteachers, and good software developers do have some leeway in choosing where they work.
But at the same time – as I know from bitter experience, and lots of other people do too – the playing field is heavily slanted against us in a lot of subtle, but powerful ways.
We are scared, and we have good reason to be scared.