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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

The defect that is now a feature

project, program, leadership, PDU
Sometimes you just have to accept things!

“Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

“It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” Mahatma Gandhi

My knee was causing me some discomfort, so I went to the Doctor. After a brief examination and a discussion of my health history, he made the medical diagnosis that I was “getting older” and that my knee was just going to hurt. No acute issue, just the gradual wearing down of a key joint. He suggested that I pay attention to what specific movement caused me pain, and avoid that.

My defective knee is now a feature.

I have a classic Ford Bronco. It has huge tires, a lift kit, and it is a blast to drive! It is the vehicle pictured in the meme at the top of the page. I have a large garage, so I took the top off and only drive it when the weather is nice. A couple of years ago the windows quit working, but I never bothered to get them fixed because, well, it has no top! I just avoid driving in the rain.

My broken windows are now a feature.

I once worked in an organization where I was responsible for a very high profile project that also happened to be a corporate priority. I was working for someone who was quite brilliant, but didn’t understand anything about projects, technology or how software was developed. Despite this, he continued to second guess my project decisions, and at one point made such a nonsensical change that the entire project was delayed 6 months! The project was continually impacted by imposed bad decisions.

The poor project decision making was now a feature.

I see this pattern replicated in my personal and professional life. Applications break, processes erode and tools malfunction. We often accept that it is broken and move on, accepting that this is our new ecosystem and devising ways to get things done within the new reality.

But why?

The main reason (although there are many) is that these things are generally out of our control. If I could fix my knee, I would! If I had the time to take apart the doors on my Bronco, I would! If I could convince my former supervisor to not second guess me, I would have!

And the people who do control these areas of our life generally have different priorities, or don’t even see that the defect is a problem.

As I said in an earlier post, we are all hero’s in our personal play.

Recognize what can’t be changed and adapt. Watch how much easier life becomes when you aren't constantly charging windmills.


I sure like to charge windmills! I often find myself getting worked up over things that I realistically have no control over. I guess that is the practical manifestation of my expertise in systems analysis. For years I have been trained to look at systems and processes to identify waste and areas of improvement. It often seems like the obvious solution is not the one taken, and that causes me internal distress. But it shouldn't! So much of life comes back to the serenity prayer: Change what you can, accept what you can't, and be bright enough to know the difference. Life is much easier that way!


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