The sooner we associate long hours and multitasking with incompetence and carelessness the better. The next time you hear boasts of executives pulling an all-nighter or holding conference calls in their cars, be sure to offer your condolences; it's grim being stuck in sweatshops run by managers too ignorant to understand productivity and risk. Working people like this is as smart as running your factory without maintenance. In manufacturing and engineering businesses, everyone learns that the top priority is asset integrity: protecting the machinery on which the business depends. In knowledge-based economies, that machinery is the mind.
In treating people as less important than things, work becomes both demoralised and demoralising and we become blind to the moral content of our decisions...Money and wilfful blindness make us act in ways incompatible wiht what believe our ethics to be, and often even with our own self-interest...the problem with money isn't fundamentally about greed, although it can be comforting to think so. The problem with money is that we live in societies in which mutual support and co-operation is essential, but money erodes the relationships we need to lead productive, fulfilling and genuinely happy lives. When money becomes the dominant behavior, it doesn't cooperate with, or amplify, our relationships; it disengages us from them.
Money is just one of the forces that blind us to information and issues which we could pay attention to - but don't. It exacerbates and often rewards all the other drivers of willful blindness; our preference for the familiar, our love for individuals and for big ideas, a love of busyness and our dislike of conflict and change, the human instinct to obey and conform and our skill at displacing and diffusing responsibility. All of these operate and collaborate with varying intensities at different moments in our lives. The common denominator is that they all make us protect our sense of self-worth, reducing dissonance and conferring a sense of security, however illusory. In some ways, they all act like money; making us feel good at first, with consequences we don't see. We wouldn't be so blind if our blindness didn't deliver rewards; the benefit of comfort and ease.