Joel Mokyr, The Enlightened Economy: An Economic History of Britain 1700-1850 (Yale Univ. 2009) at 3, points out the pernicious recurrence in historical writing of teleology. When someone describes what a law department did over a period of years to change “we tell the tale of change as if everything that happened was somehow meant to bring about the outcome we observe at the end.” Teleology impli3w that the achievement was inevitable, the inexorable working out of events to the good conclusion.
Life isn’t teleological. Management changes in law departments partake of halting, groping efforts that stumble upon a solution and then – the transformative magic of teleology after the fact – smooth all that happened into an inevitable, visionary quest (See my post of Jan. 15, 2007 #4: Whig history and the march of progress; and Sept. 22, 2008: a myth of progress.). General counsel who embark on significant change face heavy seas, not the smooth sailing from Port A to Port B that a teleological reconstruction creates.