I’ve said before that I like it best when Aaron gets ironic. This is a gem. Sure, you are laughing at the total inappropriate placing of a fire extinguisher in the desert, but what makes it even more funny (and painful) is how many places in our everyday life we come across well intentioned but completely useless contingency plans.
Seriously, think about all of the things that are in place to “keep people safe” or to “make sure something bad doesn’t happen”. Believe me, I’m a tester, I’m intimately familiar with the fact that people will figure out how to do bad, inappropriate, or messed up things. It’s something in our DNA, I’m convinced of it.
A favorite quote of mine is attributed to Jerry Weinberg, and that is “Quality means value to some person, at some time, who matters.” Sometimes the most asinine (my words) restrictions on doing something, or placement of items of dubious value, are often there because someone with influence and importance decided it was important. They may have the best of intentions, but somehow they are unable to see that their idea, their issue, their challenge, may be of very little importance to someone else. I had a chuckle a couple of days ago as I saw an ATM machine, freestanding, outside of a South of Market bar, that had effectively been vandalized, ripped open and left as a reminder that good intentions and good ideas also need to be in good places… perhaps, I don’t know… inside the bar?!
Still, it’s fun to look around and see various interesting and curious placement of items that just make you scratch your head and ask “what were these people thinking?” Most of the time, it comes back to the same place and thought. It mattered to them at the time, and in that “at the time” state, what they were doing made perfect sense. It’s only in hindsight and after we see what follows on that we get a clear view of a situation, and can actually understand that the road to hell and to numerous failures is paved with “good intentions”. The difference between a road to hell and a road to failure is that we have a chance to learn from the failures. If we do learn from them, then we haven’t really failed, we just figured out another way that something will not work on our way to something that will.
So here’s a suggestion; today, take a look at something you are working on, and try to discover what your good intention is. Just don’t stop there. Try to figure out what you are actually doing with it, and if it will indeed be a real benefit, or “another fire extinguisher in the desert”.