Yesterday my old friend Jimmy Playfield found a motivational poster on the wall beside his desk. Usually it is quite hard to find a motivational poster that is not lame or, worse, demotivational. And the motto on the wall was quite belonging to the latter. An ancient Chinese proverb quoted: “The person who says that it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it”. The intent, possibly, was to celebrate those who, despite of the adverse situation and the common sense, heroically work against all odds to achieve what is normally considered impossible.
Unfortunately reality is quite different. As that famous singer optimistically sang – One among thousand makes it. That sounds like a more accurate estimation for those trying to attain the impossible. And likely, I would add, that one is the person who benefits from advice and help from friends and co-workers.
Human kind didn’t reach the moon just because someone was kept away from those who said it wasn’t possible. To achieve the impossible you need a great team fully informed on why and how your goal is considered impossible. Usually great management and plenty of resource is helpful, too.
Just reminding a lesson at the University. The teacher, made this example: “Microsoft, in the search for new features to add to their compilers line may find that adding non termination detection would be great. Imagine, you write the code and the compiler tells you that no way, under these condition, your code will hang forever in some hidden loop. Wouldn’t it be really helpful? But this is not possible and it has been proved by Turing”. But… According to the motivational post, no one would be expected to tell the marketing and the poor programmer that volunteered for implementing the feature, that no matter how hard he tries, that feature is simply not possible (at least on Turing machine equivalents).
So that motivational sentence is basically against team work, informed decisions, information sharing, risk management.
A witty saying doesn’t prove anything [Voltaire], but sometimes it is just detrimental.
Well, I was about to close here, but I just read another quote by Voltaire: “Anything too stupid to be said is sung.” Well… that makes a good confrontation between Morandi and Voltaire.