Massive Accountability

19 Aug 2006 /
Debris in river at interstate bridge collapse in Oklahoma

Maybe you’ve noticed that most software sucks.

Maybe you’ve wondered — if you work in the software business — why our aspirations are so low compared with the possibilities of our profession.

Maybe you’ve wondered what, if anything, could be done about this.

Here’s a fun story about the benefits of really holding people accountable for the shoddy quality of their work.

In The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain wrote about King Xerxes, who in the 5th Century BC ordered a bridge of boats to be built across the Hellespont:

A moderate gale destroyed the flimsy structure, and the King, thinking that to publicly rebuke the contractors might have a good effect on the next set, called them out before the army and had them beheaded. In the next ten minutes he let a new contract for the bridge. It has been observed by ancient writers that the second bridge was a very good bridge.

Res ipsa loquitor.


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