“They said that they wanted me to come in and help them turn the place around, help them reinvent themselves. Be nimble. Shake things up. But it’s like wrestling a tar-baby. You push, you get stuck. You argue for something better and they tell you to write a report, then no one reads the report. You try to get an experimental service running and no one will reconfigure the firewall. Turn the place around?” He snorted. “It’s like turning around a battleship by tapping it on the nose with a toothpick.”

“I hate working with assholes.”

“They’re not assholes, that’s the thing, Perry. They’re some really smart people. They’re nice. We have them over for dinner. They’re fun to eat lunch with. The thing is, every single one of them feels the same way I do. They all have cool shit they want to do, but they can’t do it.”


“It’s like an emergent property. Once you get a lot of people under one roof, the emergent property seems to be crap. No matter how great the people are, no matter how wonderful their individual ideas are, the net effect is shit.”

“Reminds me of reliability calculation. Like if you take two components that are 90 percent reliable and use them in a design, the outcome is 90 percent of 90 percent—81 percent. Keep adding 90 percent reliable components and you’ll have something that explodes before you get it out of the factory.

“Maybe people are like that. If you’re 90 percent non-bogus and ten percent bogus, and you work with someone else who’s 90 percent non-bogus, you end up with a team that’s 81 percent non-bogus.”

“I like that model. It makes intuitive sense. But fuck me, it’s depressing. It says that all we do is magnify each others’ flaws.”

“Well, maybe that’s the case. Maybe flaws are multiplicative.”

“So what are virtues?”

“Additive, maybe. A shallower curve.”

“That’d be an interesting research project, if you could come up with some quantitative measurements.”
—- From “Makers”, by Cory Doctorow —-