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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hitting the wall

There's a line which is approximately "repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity". I know about it, appreciate it, and even say it from time to time, usually when snarking about the stupidity inside a company.

However, today, it occurs to me: that's not entirely true.

Let's say you have a fairly standard house, with wooden studs in the walls which hold up the ceiling, and sheetrock (drywall, whatever) nailed onto those walls. Your manager takes you into one of the bedrooms and points out there is another bedroom just like it on the other side of the wall.

Then the command comes down: we are going to get through this wall!

The plan is: run at the wall! Keep running at the wall until you get there! Ready, and... go!

With that command, people start running at the wall full speed. They eventually get concussions and die, or see the stupidity and quit, but there are always more warm bodies waiting to be hired. Even though there's a bunch of turnover, management doesn't care. To them, everything is fine.

Besides, look at the wall. First, it started bending inward. Then, one day, a piece of the sheetrock came off and turned to dust on the floor. There are piles and piles of injured people stacking up, but the wall is starting to give! More and more chunks keep being chipped off.

Eventually, given enough sacrificial wall-bashers, they will get through into the next room. There will be mountains of broken people and rivers of blood, but they did it! They managed to travel six feet into an adjacent bedroom!

Apparently, it is possible to keep doing the same stupid thing and eventually get small results. You just have to use up a whole bunch of people over a long period of time.