I Hate Scope Creep

I have always been a fan of things having a small, well-defined purpose. If you have one thing to do, you tend to do it very well. It’s when you try to be a jack of all trades that you suddenly become adequate at a lot but an expert at very little. This is mildly ironic; my own career is built upon the breadth of my skill set, although at any given time, I excel as I acquire depth in a particular area.

I regard things like computer user groups in this light. If you have to expand from a VM mainframe group to all mainframes just to maintain a critical mass of members, maybe your group is obsolete. If MVS-centric and VSE-centric groups want to merge, that’s one thing. If there’s a void that you’re finally able to fill because your primary mission no longer consumes you, that may make sense. But if there’s already a group in that niche that you’re contemplating moving in on, I tell you to think twice about what you’re doing.

A group’s primary purpose should never be to perpetuate itself. If your primary purpose fades, it’s reasonable to find a new primary purpose, and I admire those buggy whip companies that accommodated the horse-less carriage. But if your primary purpose is to exist, that’s not a purpose.

It’s in this light that I cheer on the US Marine Corps in this apparent (surf and) turf war with the US Army about the Army’s sudden desire to become an expeditionary force in the Pacific. The Army doesn’t seem to be taking this direction as a criticism of the Marines’ performance in this role; it seems to be simply a quest for self-preservation.

Get over yourselves, highest leaders of soldiers! Has it occurred to you that a world in which we need fewer boots-on-the-ground soldiers might be a better world for your children? If you want to run a rapid response disaster recovery force, maybe you should do so as part of the Peace Corps or the Red Cross. Or, yes, join the Marines, the Navy, and the Air Force.

As a taxpayer, I’d rather fund more social programs, such as unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, than fund a duplication of effort in the Pacific.


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