Looking for edge damage 2021-02-01 15:03:17

When glass breaks, it’s easy to point to the most proximate cause:

The mechanical stress from the rock you saw hitting the glass.

Or perhaps thermal stress from an extreme shift in temperature.

Oh well. 

In many cases though, the impact of a hard thing or the sudden change in climate are not solely responsible for breakage. There’s another, less obvious culprit: edge damage.

Edge damage are the little nicks and chips at the edges of glass that are so minor in appearance you might not even notice them if you’re not looking for them. Despite edge damage’s harmless looks though, it’s the concentration of stress around edge damage over a period of months and even years that can compromise and shatter entire glass structures.

To the extent that the occasional impact from an outside force and sudden shifts in ambient conditions are out of your control, the solution to preventing breakage can’t be a resolve to avoid sources of stress.

Alternatively, you can decide that seemingly innocuous edge damage is important to pay attention to. The promise of seeing edge damage early is that you can proactively replace compromised pieces with more resilient ones without having to deal with the dangerous and messy aftermath that follows a shatter.

William Liao

Form, fit, function, and generosity Shifting attention towards happiness
A discussion about edge damage in glass once totally fascinated me on either Reddit or HackerNews. Glad to see you bring it up here again. 

The micro beginnings of edge damage is observable via a microscope. In organizational structures do you have an analogy to a microscope? Or perhaps do you have concrete manifestations of edge damage within orgs?
2021-02-01 17:12:55
That's awesome, you'll have to let me know if ever locate those threads. I was researching how glass breaks for an hour in preparation for this post haha. It's really fascinating stuff. 

A microscope in the context of an organization is intention and wisdom - you have to be actively looking for it and, if you've been around along enough, your institutional wisdom will help you recognize its early beginnings. 

A couple of specific specific examples of edge damage: 
1. Toxic team members whose 'accomplishments' outweigh their toxicity in the eyes of management (typical in sales). 
2. Antiquated cultural defaults (related to #1 in this case): early in the pandemic, one of my colleagues was warned by their boss not to have their child walk into the room again during calls - this resulted in an accumulation of stress that ultimately lead to the exodus of good talent. 
2021-02-02 14:53:56