Are old hacks a total pain in the arse just for the sake of it?

Tomorrow's Business

Yes. A friend reminds me of an old story that makes the point. Years ago a certain newspaper replaced our comfy leather chairs with new ones supposed to be ergonomically safer.

Since we are all individuals, we collectively agreed, they should have consulted us first.

A rebellion began. The chairs were simple; they had three levers. One changed the height. One swivelled the chair left or right. One set the angle of the back.

The entire desk pretended we found them impossible to operate. The shortest reporter had his set so low he could barely see over his desk. The reporter who was deaf in his left ear claimed his chair was locked to the right, making it impossible for him to hear the news desk or do any work.

Several of us developed back problems that required expensive physiotherapy/time off work.

The HR department freaked out. They hired a chair consultant to come and see us every day to deal with problems we continued to entirely fabricate.

After a while, someone said they felt sorry for the chair consultant and wondered whether he went home each evening weeping. Another said they would rather clean the toilets with their own tongue than have his job.

So we stopped. After a couple more days.

It’s hard to imagine an act of such pointlessly brilliant rebellion in newsrooms these days. But something has been lost.

And that’s the basic mind-set of the people you are dealing with.

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