Ender’s Shadow

This paragraph really resonates with me. So I wonder which a new factor disrupting my life falls under: comfortable/liked or quiet/blamed.

They were career military officers, all of them. Proven officers with real ability. But in the military you don’t get trusted positions just because of your ability. You also have to attract the notice of superior officers. You have to be liked. You have to fit in with the system. You have to look like what the officers above you think that officers should look like. You have to think in ways that they are comfortable with.

The result was that you ended up with a command structure that was top-heavy with guys who looked good in uniform and talked right and did well enough not to embarrass themselves, while the really good ones quietly did all the serious work and bailed out their superiors and got blamed for errors they had advised against until they eventually got out.
Card, Orson Scott. Ender’s Shadow.

Higher education is similar. Graduate students have to make professors comfortable with the thought of the student joining a higher rank or face being blamed for why the research or teaching is substandard. Technology is even more similar. Things do fail, people will be blamed unless someone higher up protects the front line people. The question is: When the front line people pointed out what was needed to be successful and higher ups hedged bets by choosing higher risk over higher costs, will the front liners be blamed when things fail?

We like to pretend logic forms the basis for our decisions when really the decisions are based on manipulated emotions. Those we like we protect. Those we have no bond we cut loose. I just wish people were more forthcoming about the reasoning behind decisions.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: