There’s a difference between following the spirit of the law, and following the letter of the law. There’s a difference between being meticulously thorough, and CYA. There’s a difference between meeting the customer requirement, and meeting the customer specification. Many people become frustrated with computers because computers do what you tell them to do not what you want them to do, but then they go out and behave like computers. They do this, I suspect, largely out of fear of failure. (See “The Importance of Mistakes” by John Cleese, and the unofficial motto of Isaac Asimov’s fictional “U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc.”.)  This is yet another price we pay for living in a litigious society and for rewarding short-term thinking over long-term thinking. Many people think putting a thumb on the thermometer actually warms up the room because it often seems the reward goes to those with a thumb on the thermometer.

I’d like to be part of an organization that recognizes and rewards initiative and reasonable risk-taking. One that understands that money is the score of the game and not the object of the game, and that puts the welfare of customers and employees ahead of short-term shareholder profit. However, I’m not sure such an organization could survive in today’s business climate. It’s a shame, really.