Following the tragic Germanwings plane disaster, Qantas recently introduced new measures to prevent pilots deliberately crashing their planes. Now we can all feel confident to fly again, knowing that a single crazy person can never pull that exact trick again.
It’s what we do after any shocking breach of trust; we close the loophole and put up barriers. We add steps, scans and screens; we probe, we profile, we process and of course, we all queue up. Sure, everything takes so much longer, costs so much more and achieves so much less but hey, better safe than sorry, right?
It’s why we suspect all passengers are potential terrorists, all shoppers are potential shoplifters, all students are potential cheats. Now all pilots are potential suicides, even though, only 5 of the still-unexplained passenger plane crashes of the last 25 years are suspected ‘pilot suicides’).
It’s why organisations have so much bureaucracy; without a cryptic labyrinth of protocols and passwords, signatures and authorisations any idiot, crook or (god forbid) lunatic could wreak havoc.
But could it be that, by making sure nothing bad ever happens we make it increasingly unlikely that anything happens at all? Innovation and reform are constantly stifled by bureaucracies that stand between us and the solutions to our most pressing social, economic and environmental problems.
Our systems obstruct progress because they mistake the vast majority of us who are not stupid, crooked or insane with the tiny minority of people who really are… people who will always find another way to achieve their goal anyway.
We’re not stopping crazy; just everybody else.
Now that’s crazy.