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a sign that says watch out a hole

The hole you fall into while trying to avoid it

I remember a cartoon from when I was a kid about two guys on a train. One of them is very clumsy and always gets into trouble, while the other one is smart, analytical, and bureaucratic. As the clumsy guy is sleeping the smart guy notices the emergency brake.

Having experienced the other guy’s clumsiness first-hand, he decides to wrap the emergency brake in duct tape to prevent him from hitting it accidentally. He stands up and applies the first strip of duct tape. At that moment, the clumsy guy wakes up, shouts “What are you doing!?” and grabs the smart guy, who loses his balance, grabs the emergency brake, activating it as they both fall down.

The last picture in the cartoon is of the train engineer asking them who tripped the emergency brake, with both guys pointing at each other.

You can wear a helmet on a motorcycle, and you’re slightly safer. Wrapping your whole body in styrofoam might offer a lot of protection but you won’t be able to move, and thus you’re not safe at all.

There’s an old joke that asks the question “if the black box is indestructible, why don’t they make the whole airplane from the same material?” The answer is obvious, but the spirit of this question is interesting when applied to doing business. How much energy are you wasting on preventing bad things from happening? How much optimization is premature? How much time do you waste thinking about scenarios that will never take place?

Put that duct tape down and relax.

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