Catch-22

Catch-22

In Joseph Heller’s famous book, Catch-22 is explained thusly:

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle. (p. 56, ch. 5)”

I note a similar situation in the software business.

If one professes to understand the software business – how to run software organisations, how to get software delivered on time and to budget, etc. – people think you’re crazy, way too crazy to consider hiring. If one professes bafflement in these matters, people think you sane, sane enough to get hired. Thus those few people who do understand and who choose to act with integrity, who choose not to misrepresent themselves, don’t get hired. Those who truly don’t understand the software business, and those who do but choose to act without integrity by misrepresenting their understanding, are the ones that unfailing get hired.

That’s Catch-22.

– Bob

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