Bikeshedding

The story goes that

A while ago, there was a nuclear power plant being built. The plans where taken to the Board of Directors for approval.

No one questioned the thickness of the walls, the size of the nuclear chambers, or the other “technical” aspects of the design.

Where they did get caught was in the discussion of what colour the employees bike shed should be painted.

And as such, the project was delayed several months while the colour options where discussed.

This leads to two distinct observations;

The first is the Board of Directors got caught up on a small, relatively unimportant task or point of the project and spent a disproportionate amount of time on that single task. Another way of saying this is that the project was stalled, or not even started, because of disagreement over a small, inconsequential part of that project.

and

The second is that the board members where not able to perceive or contribute to the highly technical parts of the project, but a Bike Shed is something they all understood and could make their mark on. Basically by saying “See, I have contributed”.

In Denmark, they call it “Setting your fingerprint”.

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