The tyranny of the minority

Everyone wants pepperoni except for the one person who hates pepperoni. So you don’t get pepperoni, because nobody else cares enough to tell that one person to shove it.

Everyone wants to try switching to 3-week sprints except for that one person who thinks 3 weeks is way too long. So you stick with 2-week sprints, because nobody else cares enough to tell that one person to shove it.

Interesting how we give that one noisy dissenter so much power. Human politeness is a powerful motivator. We choose to make a large group of people slightly unhappier to prevent a small group (or even a single person) from being significantly unhappier.

The majority doesn’t care enough to tell the minority to deal with it, so the minority gets veto power. I recently heard this called the tyranny of the minority, but that seems harsh. It reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quotes:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

George Bernard Shaw

Is it tyranny to be “unreasonable”? No. It’s necessary. The quality that makes a person put their foot down about pizza toppings is the same quality that drives progress.

What is that quality? Grit? Stubbornness? Determination? Vision? Courage? All of those?

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