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A zen monk was watering a plant, a follower was puzzled as the monk was watering the plant which was full of thorns, people have been injured regularly from the pricks. The disciple went to the monk and quizzed about why a plant which harms others is being nurtured. The monk replied, I am watering the plants for the beautiful roses that will bloom, it is the roses I care for and nurture it.

As many of us are not monks, I think most of the rules and regulations are centered around preventing something from happening than making things easy. It is evident in the corporate world, in simple things like office libraries. It defeats the purpose of having a library if a user cannot browse through books. I had a habit of going to the library after lunch and browse through a few books, if interested read for 15-20 minutes and then get back to work.

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I was able to read a lot of books during my breaks, it is when I changed jobs and went to a new office that I realised people can lock libraries. We had to stir up a movement to get the administration to open up the library for casual reading instead of lending only policy which was put in place to prevent book theft.

Most of the systems are designed to be like this, in order to reduce the undesirable activity by a small margin, we tend to impact good behaviour on a larger scale. It is also the result of measuring the wrong things, like an admin being measured on reducing bad debts. There are some initiatives of coming up with designs that promote good behaviour like smart speed bumps but it does not gain traction as people in charge don’t have any incentive to design it that way. So everyone of us will have to go over that nasty speed bump in the neighbourhood for years to come because some random idiot will speed through.