Every once in a white I receive an automated alert on my computer telling me to update my software.  I typically click through the yes and accept buttons until the alert disappears, assuring me that my security updates are concluded.  Yesterday however I encountered a very weird situation.  It was so weird in fact that it was the first time I encountered this message since I’ve owned computers.  I received a message telling me that I did not have any space on my hard drive.  Now this might seem like a typical message, however, I realized that since approximately 1995 (when I bought my first computer) till now I’ve never seen this message.  The reason, I suspect is because I have been updating my computer every 18 months or so.  Alternatively, I’ve had a major hard drive crash every 2 years effectively losing most of the data.  As annoying as that sounds, it effectively acted as a cleansing mechanism.  It was like having to relocate and being forced to do spring cleaning.

So for the past 17 years I’ve gotten used to saving important files such as family photos or critical documents on backups, thus not worrying about my next hard drive crash.  I also noticed that when I go through a computer upgrade I very rarely go back to old files.  I may migrate my photos, but I don’t often have to dig through 10 year old documents.

What is so unique about this situation though is that about 2 years ago I decided to buy my first MAC book.  As such, I was not used to the kind of reliability that Apple offers as compared to the competition.  So when I bought my laptop I had assumed that 250GB was more than enough.  What’s been interesting though is that the new MAC book also came with some interesting software that I’ve taken advantage of related to creating movies of vacations, birthday parties, etc…  As a result my 250GB seemed like very limited space considering the type of usage it was getting.

Reflecting on this reminds me how we are programmed at work to deal with incompetence and often enough we end up using this incompetence to our advantage.  In project management for instance we find ourselves padding estimates significantly, owing to the incompetence of project team members.  While this seems like a harmless exercise, unfortunately this padding can result in devastating consequences.  For example, on projects where we find ourselves as a vendor submitting a proposal for consideration, if we pad our estimates, our price will not be competitive.

So my lesson learned here is that while incompetence leads to greater incompetence, it also creates bad behavior that must be addressed when we are faced with competent performance.