racing, football, and software development

someone said:“I want health care reform. But I don’t like that we are just giving up on the idea of a public option. It’s like we’re running a race, and we’re eighty percent finished, and we decide to just stop and give up before reaching the finish line.”

my thought:You hear all kinds of metaphors in politics. And in the health care debate every single metaphor has been pulled out. It’s a race. It’s a football game. It’s a boxing match (I hear the term “rope-a-dope” bandied about in particular). Sometimes it’s even a game of chess. These metaphors are all entertaining. But they are also all fundamentally flawed.

Why? Because in football, the teams never come together and say, “This is what we agree on, let’s do this together.” Because in chess, the two kings never call a truce for the common good of their pawns. Because in a race, the position of the finish line doesn’t affect millions of lives.

This isn’t a game. And I don’t just mean that in the “come on, guys, this is serious!” kind of way. It isn’t a game because the goal is not–should not be–to “beat” the other side. The goal is to accomplish something.

As long as we are tossing around our favorite metaphors, let me share my favorite metaphor for the health care reform bill.

You don’t wait until version 5.0 to release the software. You release version 1.0 first. You know it doesn’t have all of the features, you probably know it has some bugs. But you get it out there, you let people get used to it. You even rely on the fact that, in the first year or so, the users of version 1.0 will be instrumental in helping to find out what bugs need to be fixed and what improvements need to be made. Then, gradually over time, you release the bug fixes. You release the upgrades. Until you have the product that you knew it could be all along.

That’s how we should be viewing the health care reform bill. It isn’t “fundamentally flawed.” It isn’t “weakened”. It isn’t a “sell-out”.

It’s just version 1.0.