Peering Down The Road Untaken

Having worked on various business improvement projects over the years, this video on requirements gathering made me chuckle and wince at the same time. However, it isn’t just large-scale projects that suffer from the issue: even the most apparently simple aims can suffer from a strong bias to repeat what works.

As the almost fanatical resistance displayed by adherents of disproved theories shows, once the human mind has a solution to an issue it will hold onto it even when presented with almost overwhelming evidence it isn’t the best solution. And this tendency to accept the status quo is even stronger when there isn’t an external challenge.

So, as happened in the video, people can become fixated on the method rather than the outcome; rebuilding the existing world rather than taking the opportunity to build a more functional one.

Obviously, this favouring of an existing approach over a bespoke one saves time, so is helpful for non-critical tasks (such as the route to work on an ordinary day or where to buy more socks), but for the things that will have a large impact it’s worth taking the time to challenge our assumptions at least a little.


5 thoughts on “Peering Down The Road Untaken

  1. Evolution is having a hard time catching up to our changing ecosystem (which includes our constructed environment and our social milieu), leaving all our once harmless, or even helpful, foibles in place. Or maybe we’re just caught in the inevitable vise before the hopefully inevitable adaptation.


        1. My point was, if we have been doing the same cycle of things since the start of recorded history, it suggests realising they are bad isn’t a sufficient evolutionary advantage for H. sapiens sapiens.

          I see the environmental factors that haven’t been around long enough to measure effects are the various electrickeries and genetic manipulation (as opposed to selective breeding). So, survival of the species will probably come if technology changes the evolutionary advantages or we sidestep natural evolution.

          Of course, that could mean the species survives as a toxin-resistant elite in the wasteland we created by strip-mining for phone parts.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. The only thing relevant to evolution is differential reproduction. It’s a numbers game, pure and simple, so we can make ourselves miserable or not, as long as there are enough of us to continue breeding. Depressing, in a way, but also rather liberating. We can improve ourselves if we want, evolution notwithstanding.


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