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Malcolm Gladwell: The Engineers Lament


dcollon
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There is an old joke about an engineer, a priest, and a doctor enjoying a round of golf. Ahead of them is a group playing so slowly and inexpertly that in frustration the three ask the greenkeeper for an explanation. “That’s a group of blind firefighters,” they are told. “They lost their sight saving our clubhouse last year, so we let them play for free.”

 

The priest says, “I will say a prayer for them tonight.”

 

The doctor says, “Let me ask my ophthalmologist colleagues if anything can be done for them.”

 

And the engineer says, “Why can’t they play at night?”

 

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/the-engineers-lament

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good/interesting read...

 

TL;DR engineers generally have stronger utilitarian leanings than average population

 

+1

 

Another TL;DR: capability of human societies and organizations to prioritize issues mostly sucks.

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The next paragraph is good as well:

 

"A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.” To the others, the glass is a metaphor. Nonsense, the engineer says. The specifications are off. He doesn't give free rein to temperament; he assesses the object. These jokes, like many of the jokes people tell about themselves, are grievances. The engineer doesn't understand why the rest of us can’t make sense of the world the way he does."

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"A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.”

 

Does anyone see the glass as refillable?

 

Refillable doesn't necessarily mean it will ever be filled past the half way mark, but the entrepreneur would certainly see it as an opportunity to sell the owner more to drink.

 

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"A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.”

 

Does anyone see the glass as refillable?

 

Refillable doesn't necessarily mean it will ever be filled past the half way mark, but the entrepreneur would certainly see it as an opportunity to sell the owner more to drink.

 

Good ones!!!

 

As I've said before, the cup is actually full, as it contains air as well. Under the right circumstances the air we breath can be quite valuable. ;-) I'm sure the airlines are trying right now how to figure out a fee for the air we take onboard.  So it would seem that there's pessimists, optimists, engineers - and then there's us value investors.

 

The next paragraph is good as well:

 

"A pessimist sees the glass as half empty. An optimist sees the glass as half full. The engineer sees the glass as twice the size it needs to be.” To the others, the glass is a metaphor. Nonsense, the engineer says. The specifications are off. He doesn't give free rein to temperament; he assesses the object. These jokes, like many of the jokes people tell about themselves, are grievances. The engineer doesn't understand why the rest of us can’t make sense of the world the way he does."

 

I would also hope the engineer would see it as nearing its design limit and not that it is twice the size it needs to be.

 

“When you build a bridge, you insist it can carry 30,000 pounds, but you only drive 10,000 trucks across it.  And the same principle works in investing.” - Warren Buffett

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