Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Technical Corruption of a Vicious Hierarchy

The Pickering nuclear incident has been blown over by the north wind and we'll never know what happened.  It got me to thinking if we are in a new era of big technical errors, caused by a vicious hierarchy.

All organizations and companies start small with a technically competent leader.  These guys are useless with people and soon get into legal or financial trouble and get kicked out.  If the company is small, they can get over troubles like the Big Cheese insisting on a space rocket that looks like his comic books.  It was the same in the nuclear biz.  The designers can gang up on the guy and say "Do you want something that works, or not."  They get over their big stupidities.

Because the org starts as a hierarchy (one person), it stays that way as it grows.  At some magic point, their are no physics people at the top.  The only feedback is through disasters.

Not just any disaster, it has to be one that gets to the public.  All other small disasters can be papered over.  We must expect an exponential rise in technical disasters going into the future.  The top people at any place always believe the stuff that the PR department puts out.

ps.  the pickle alert was sent 'in error' which meant it was a real emergency but nothing crossed the fence line, and there was no smoke to be seen.  A good Japanese approach to life.  :)

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