I am currently writing about how even a perfect hierarchy that is ‘too’ tall is doomed to become unstable over any lengthy period of time (more than a decade). A good into to this topic is the concept of back seat driving.
A backseat driver is a vehicle passenger in the back seat who is not controlling the vehicle, and seems to be uncomfortable with the skills of the driver and/or wants to tutor the driver while the driver is at the wheel.
So why is back seat driving so problematic? Apart from the fact that it often useless drivel which distracts the driver and degrades his or her performance, even a perfect back-seat driver is not actually manipulating the controls of the car. This creates a feedback loop lag which results in a buildup of errors which will eventually cause an accident.
But let us tackle the human issues first. If the backseat driver was the better driver why is he or she not driving the car in the first place? The answer is- incompetence. That is right! The backseat driver is a back-seat driver because they are less competent than the person driving the vehicle.
Now you might think that we would identify and ignore backseat drivers in other areas of life, but the converse is true- with disastrous effects for everyone else. Here are some examples..
Take the catholic Church, or more accurately its priesthood. Given that a lot of catholic doctrine revolves around sex and sin, isn’t having celibate priests kinda stupid? Do you really want a person who has supposedly never been in those situations be seen as an authority on how to behave in them? I can however understand if catholic priests are consulted on things like being self-hating closeted gays or child molesters.
Take decision makers in modern militaries. How many of them have actually fought in a war similar to the one they are running? and how many of them have actually been in the shoes of the men they command within the last decade? The answer is- almost none of these decision makers got their current positions because of real merit or experience. They were just good at kissing the right asses and saving their own behinds from actual combat.
and what about CEOs and the senior management of companies today? How many of them have actually been involved with the company they run or understand the products or services the company provides? Most likely they are hacks born to the right parents or with the requisite amount of sociopathy to succeed in the corporate world. They lack the ability to understand what they are really doing.. yet Americans and people in most developed countries celebrate such hollow CONmen.
What do you think? Comments?