David Heinemeier Hansson

July 29, 2022

There is no iceberg

It's human nature to assume there's a good reason for why things are the way they are. And that this reason is either benign, based on careful deliberation, or malignant, derived from malice or incompetence. But this is a false dichotomy that often steers us away from the simpler answer: Nobody thought about this at all.

There was no plan, good or bad. No road map, well designed or not. No projection, accurate or off. And all you see is the consequence of actions taken without foresight according to the needs of the moment by people living in the present.

This is true in all corners of life, but it's especially noticeable in business. Here we're definitely supposed to have a plan, preferably derived from a mission, and certainly full of goals and targets. There's supposed to be a clear why to everything that happens and everything we do.

But whether we admit it or not, there often just isn't. At least not any clear why that reflects a good reason as a byproduct of actual reasoning. And any attempt to pretend such reasoning happened is usually just a post-hoc rationalization.

Accepting the fact that there probably is no iceberg, just an ice tip bobbing at the surface, is the way to develop the fortitude to face and embrace this vast, beautiful empty space of the unconsidered.

About David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.