The Industry choice

Jeff Shannon jeff at
Thu Jan 6 13:38:53 EST 2005

Steve Holden wrote:

> Bulba! wrote:

>> I was utterly shocked. Having grown up in Soviet times I have
>> been used to seeing precious resources wasted by organizations
>> as if resources were growing on trees, but smth like this?! In a
>> shining ideal country of Germany?! Unthinkable.
> Indeed not. Quite often the brown paper bag is a factor in purchases 
> like this. I wouldn't be at all surprised if somebody with a major input 
> to the decision-making process retired to a nice place in the country 
> shortly afterwards. You appear to be making the mistake of believing 
> that people will act in the larger interest, when sadly most individuals 
> tend to put their own interests first (some would go as far as to define 
> self-interest as the determinant of behavior).

Indeed, it is almost expected that those in charge of any large 
organization (whether government, corporation, trade union, industry 
association, fan club, or whatever else) are likely to act in their 
personal interests at the expense of the organization's interests. 
This is why things like public-disclosure laws and oversight 
committees exist.  As they say, power corrupts.  (Of course, this is 
not at all limited to people in charge; it's just most notable there, 
since those people can direct the efforts of the rest of the 
organization for their personal gain, whereas a rank-and-file member 
can typically only direct their own efforts.)

It's also noteworthy to consider that many times, waste happens not 
because of corruption or self-interest, but simply because of errors 
of judgement.  Humans being as we are, it's inevitable that over time, 
some "obvious" important details will escape our attention, and the 
resulting imperfect information will result in poor decisions.  This 
is a simple fact of human nature, and (ob-Python ;) ) it's one of the 
reasons that Python is designed as it is -- it makes a serious effort 
to reduce the number of details that might escape detection.

(One should also consider that many business failures are a case of 
simply having played the odds and lost.  Many ventures depend on 
outside events playing in a certain way; when by chance those events 
happen, the decision-makers are called "bold and insightful", but if 
things don't work out, they're called foolish or misguided.  Often, 
though, it was not foolishness but shrewd risk-taking -- if you take a 
one-in-three chance of making a tenfold return on investment, then 66% 
of the time you'll lose.... but if you hit those odds just once, 
you'll come out way ahead.)

Jeff Shannon
Credit International

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