Interesting interview with software entrepreneur Joel Spolsky. To explain what he thinks has gone wrong with Microsoft he tells a story about his grandmother.
I remember once, when my grandparents were alive but were old, they were trying to go out to a restaurant with me one night, and it took a half-hour from the time they were standing by the door to the time we got out the front door because my grandmother kept saying, "Do I have my keys?" Of course she did have her keys. "Did I turn on the burglar alarm?" She went and turned on the burglar alarm. And then she said, "Do I have my keys? Go check if the garden door's open; I think I was outside today." "Is the water running?"
Basically, by the time she got to be 65, every mistake she'd ever made in her life she had corrected by creating a new procedure by which she made sure that she never made that mistake again. For example, before she left the house, she double-checked that she had her keys, the burglar alarm was on and so forth. So she had been acquiring these habits to prevent making mistakes she had made in the past. And by the time she got to be 65, it took a half-hour to run through the whole checklist!
. . . . It's what the Army calls fatigue. Fatigue is everything in the Army that you do to keep your equipment in good working condition: polishing your shoes, brushing your teeth, making sure that you're ready and that all your bullets are clean and there's no sand in your gun. It's all called fatigue, and it takes about two hours a day for an infantry guy. And it's everything but the actual thing you're trying to do. Microsoft has now got to the point where it's like 80 percent, 90 percent fatigue.