Many of us would have come across this cringe-inducing Mr Bean-esque news item by now: “an octogenarian neighbor of the church, who, noticing the damage to the painting, took it upon herself to restore the painting "with good intentions" but "without asking permission,"” -- full article here. (Thanks Ye!)
What I want to know is – why didn’t she stop as soon as she realised her, um, lack of ability?
The “restoration” look like it would have taken more than a few minutes. At which point did she realise it was not going well? And when she did, what compelled her to continue? And what made her stop at the end?
Why was she unable to project the likely outcome after the first few strokes?
We see similar behaviour in other aspects of life. We ignore glaring character flaws upon character flaws, and suddenly one day realised we had gone into business (or a personal relationship) with a complete psychopath. Business make marketing blunders, only to heap further, compounding, and foreseeable mistakes on top of that first one. In some situations, we just seem somehow compelled to make matters worse.
- How much feedback do we need before we can begin to predict likely outcomes with actionable accuracy?
- How do we increase our awareness of making mistakes, especially during the process of making a mistake?
- How do we increase our ability to stop before we things get worse?
- What do we throw good money/resources after bad?
Individuals do this just as spectacularly as committees. Do committees amplified these behaviours? Or temper them?
The contributing and compounding factors could be:
- Fear; and reacting reactively to fear (panicking.) OMG OMG OMG…
- Maintaining a false belief to avoid facing the fear. This person is the only one for me; I can’t face the world alone.
- Lack of awareness of the limits of one’s abilities. Brain surgery can’t be harder than coding HTML.
- A grandiose sense of one’s abilities; or entitlement. I am the president. I am the CEO.
- An unrealistic sense of self righteousness. I am absolutely right and God is always on my side.
- An unrealistic view of other people and the world. Of course everyone will believe me. Of course no one will see through this.
- Being blinded by the details to the detriment of the big picture. The road to hell is paved by good intentions…
- Simply "following orders" - abrogating personal responsibility by unthinking following orders from a higher authority.
Can you think of any others?
Here's a video of the "incident":
And here’s one of Mr Bean with Whistler’s Mother: