Rage Against the Trilobites

A few recent experiences have reminded me that incompetence is the incestuous offspring of mediocrity + apathy. Typically, this is manifested in individuals, but increasingly, I witness far too much incompetence in Corporate and Government institutions.

We have a [among many] problem in this country, and that problem is a tolerance for incompetence. We allow mediocre people & organizations to persist at what they do without consequence. In fact, we often, because of inaction, reinforce the very behaviors that we despise about incompetence and mediocrity.

We need to challenge mediocrity at every turn and allow no safe havens. Incompetence is a non-trivial drag on the economy and society. I have no immediate solutions for what an incompetent person could or should do, other than something other than what they are [apparently] currently doing for which they are largely incompetent. We don’t want to simple adopt a zero tolerance for incompetence and end up with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of unemployed or unemployable people. That would be just as bad.

Most urgent is the need to eradicate mediocrity and incompetence, not to mention apathy, from all aspects of Government, at the Federal, State and Local levels. In order to do this, Government employment rules should more closely resemble “at will” as is the case in many commercial companies. As taxpayers, this must be a non-negotiable demand.

Government does not have a unique monopoly on this issue however. Industry [non Government stuff] has just as many aspects that are dysfunctional, sometimes in the extreme. This masquerades as “X has always been done this way…”. A highly respected mentor of mine refers to these as trilobites — that is, slow, unable to evolve, destined to become extinct.


There are far too many trilobites surviving today and we’d all be well served to remind them of their evolutionary destiny.