Here's a quote from Jim McCarthy's "Dynamics of Software Development"
that seems relevant given the recent fracas on perl6-language-regexp:

Someone once asked me, "What's the hardest thing about software

I didn't hesitate.  "Getting people to think."

Believe it or not, most people don't want to think.  They think they
want to think, but they don't.  It's easier not to and to instead flip
the bozo bit--that's what we call it at Microsoft: "That dude's a
bozo!"  Then nobody pays any attention to anything the putative bozo
says or does forevermore.  And as far as his making a contribution is
concerned, he's just dead weight, a bozo.

A bozo, of course, is not to be trusted with anything.  The best you
can hope for is that the bozo will be paid to do nothing of
consequence and therefore won't screw up the works.  This is, to say
tht least, too modest an ambition for anybody who occupies one of
those valuable slots on your team.

Or you flip the bozo bit on yourself.  You decide that you don't know
what you're doing and that you're powerless anyway, so you become a
dead weight.

We don't accept that sort of posture in our group.  We get everybody's
head into the game--anybody can contribute.  Anybody on the team can
tell you how to shave the time to market.  Anybody on the team can
tell you how you are going to slip.  Anybody can.  And you have to get
the whole team thinking that way.

The clearest sign that people are thinking is that they listen to
other people's ideas and critical feedback.  They quiet their
initially competitive responses to a possibly superior line of
thought.  They demand of themselves the intellectual rigor it takes to
fairly and properly evaluate the new, potentially valuable
information.  They can filter out the ego-driven aspects of the
communication they've just received because they can bring an
understanding of human nature to a distillation of the true spirit of
the message from the raw communication of it.

Thinking people can evaluate in the purest possible way all incoming
insights.  That they don't arises from two phenomena.

The first phenomena, defensiveness, comes from the recipient's
misunderstanding critical feedback.  The act of creating intellectual
property demands a great deal of emotional and creative investment.
Criticism or better ideas about the product or the process of creating
it get translated into criticism of the self.  If the self were fully
engaged in thinking, all would be well because on second thought the
thinking person would purify the message, filtering out the
ego-threatening and ego-driven aspects of it; however, that's not what
usually happens.

Instead of soliciting more information and developing greater
understanding, the person on the receiving end puts primitive defenses
into play.  Head-on conflict or a passive-aggressive dismissal of the
feedback or idea results, and no mature evaluation of the information
ever takes place.  When a single person repeatedly "assaults" another
person with ideas or feedback, the recipient is faced with a dilemma:
either the ideas and information are valuable (already dismissed out
of hand), or the person who persists in pressing the ideas on the
other person is a bozo.  The recipient then sets the bit-flag on the
persistent communicator: BOZO = TRUE.

The second phenomenon, even more common than the first, is the
reciprocal.  After her good ideas have been summarily and repeatedly
rebuffed out of fear or other ill-motivated reactions, the
communicator likewise flips the BOZO = TRUE bit on the recipient of
her creative largesse.

Flipping the bozo bit is pernicious--costly, brutal, and nearly
impossible not to do, especially when you are the one rebuffed.  And
once a leader has flipped the bozo bit on someone, people under the
leader's influence will do likewise.

Of course, the remedy is to look within and make every effort to
purify your part of the communication, whichever role you play in it.
If the recipient is finding it difficult to accept your input, find a
way to make it easier.  At least explain your situation and your
frustration.  Conversely, if someone keeps giving you "bad" feedback
or "lousy" ideas, look within to make sure that some primitive
territorial defense isn't clouding your judgement.  If you elevate
this maxim to the status of a guiding principle in your group, people
will invariably cry foul when you or anyone else transgresses.

(good book, by the way, do try it)

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