Human factors’, is a phrase most frequently used by politicians and commentators when attempting to account for some otherwise inexplicable situation. How often have we heard explanations that go something like this?
“The measures that we put into place would have worked perfectly had it not been for certain human factors completely beyond our control”.
This could be interpreted as an admission of failure to allow for the perversity of human opinion. When it appears certain that everyone will absolutely love what you are genuinely offering them free of all cost, there will be those who will flatly refuse your offer for no apparent reason. Human beings can be highly cynical when it comes to convincing them that they can really have something for nothing.
It is notoriously difficult to allow for human factors when conducting business. For instance when selling real estate you can be absolutely sure that ninety nine percent of people will always try to knock down the price, even if you are asking well under the market value. It is part of the ritual that you always start with a higher price than you expect to realize, you know it, potential buyers know it, even your grand daddy knows it, yet they all partake in the charade. When hiring staff some companies offer candidates huge potential earnings along with a job description designed for superman or superwoman. The best’ candidate can then be offered a trial period at a substantially reduced salary on the basis that, although they don’t exactly fit the job description, the company is willing to train’ them. Needless to say the huge potential earnings are rarely achieved.
The coaches of sports teams are probably more aware of the human factor than most. The best laid plans for attack or defensive can come to naught if the individual players are not in tune with each other. Financial worries, concerns about family and a score of other potential distractions can turn gold medal prospects into also-rans. Why do spectators and commentators react with such disbelief when their idols crash and burn? Is it because they secretly believe that some performers are more than human? Do we desire to imbue our heroes with superhuman qualities we can never attain ourselves? Perhaps this accounts for our fascination with Batman’, Spiderman’ and of course not to forget Superman’.
Young children grow up fanaticizing about their parents, or similar role models. For them there is absolutely no human frailty’ factor that cannot be overcome by mum or dad. It is quite a shock when children start schools and learn about the human factors that influence group situations like the classroom. It is a surprise to the very young to find that teachers actually go home after school and that they don’t spend their nights locked in a box awaiting the arrival of tomorrow’s children. When we grow up’ it is difficult to let go entirely of these fantasies without becoming very cynical, so we develop a taste for places like Disney Land, kidding ourselves that we go in order to take our children or grandchildren out for the day.