Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Convenient Injustices

Whenever observing the workings of organizations, one of my favorite areas to scrutinize and, I should note, perhaps the most difficult to change, is the convenient injustice.

A convenient injustice is a practice which is unfair but is nonetheless permitted to continue because those who could - and should - correct it believe that it would be inconvenient to do so. Some of these individuals will come up with creative, but ultimately unpersuasive, arguments to defend the practice while most will concede its flaws and will note that it really should be changed. You will then hear how hard it would be to change the practice, how they have to pick their battles, and that they will leave it to others to make the change. Some day, at any rate. In the meantime, they won't utter a public word against it.

Their view that the practice would be difficult to change is often inaccurate but any corrective action would involve some inconvenience on their part. And that is where our old friend Inertia enters the room. Inertia feeds on convenience and loves a good cover story. As Joan Didion noted, "We tell ourselves stories in order to live." Rather than admitting that they benefit from the injustice or, at the very least, are willing to sit by and permit it to continue, these passive accomplices conjure a scene in which the injustice is a force of nature, as uncontrollable as thunderstorms, and something to be accepted and not challenged.

With rare exception, I find them to be very nice people.

Which makes it all the worse.

No comments: