03 September 2007

Three posts about fifteen things [ ii ]

I shall now tread into dangerous jargon infested waters. Vision and Diversity are such loaded words - loaded with baggage that drains them of meaning when employed in the office. So I'm not at all opposed to trading up to something less ruined. Fit Judgment, while not jargon, is awkward twice over: it stumbles off one's tongue like the phrase "it stumbles off one's tongue" and it contains the word judgment which scares people. I would be excited about someone capturing a better term for this principle.

Accomplishment¹ (Integrity ∩ Arete)
Git 'er done is insufficient. Accomplishment includes ethical behavior, looking out for everyone's best interests, follow-through, etc.; I think it's fairly clear where this is going. This is the quality of being able to generate a set of desired results whilst exercising the personal valor to do it rightly.

Vision (Arete ∩ Eudaimonia « Sustainability)
To have vision is to posses (a) the knowledge required fulfill a worthy purpose or function, and (b) the ability to articulate how to apply that knowledge in order to fulfill it. So it’s both being able to conceptualize the problem (and the domain in which the problem lies) as well as being able to describe how to approach a reasonable resolution.

Diversity (Sustainability » Eudaimonia ∩ Family)
Giving lip service alone to diversity is dumb. A group that doesn't respect and respond to diversity actively ignores opportunities aplenty. People think wildly differently, bring many perspectives and skills to bear, have unexpected and occasionally thunderously useful experiences that don't immediately appear to have a practical application but may very well end up being the keys to unlock particularly unruly problems. Failure to seek out diversity promotes the aggregation of like minds with like failings and universal blind spots. Dumb. I don't have the data on me, but I recall having come across research on diversity being a little more expensive [Observe either all or no religious holidays, not just the Christian ones.] and stressful [Different people? But I fear and resist what is different!] in the short term but considerably more cost-effective over the long term and especially valuable in creating advanced communication mechanisms (e.g. cross-cultural fluency), problem solving efficiencies (e.g. greater variety in brainstorming ideas and how to make them workable), and casual mentoring practices (e.g. even casual mavens want to give away help).

Creativity (Family ∩ Phronesis « Wisdom)
You should be able (and encouraged) to explore a body of ideas and possibilities, from the obvious to the arcane. From there, you can iterate through the applications of your ideas, look down the pathways they open, and recognize and explore the unconventional tools at your disposal. I hope to imply within the broad notion of creativity additional specific notions of inspiration, flexible thinking, versatility, and so forth.

Fit Judgment² (Wisdom » Phronesis ∩ Integrity)
Make well-considered and defensible decisions. The marriage of knowing (or figuring out) the right thing to do and being strong enough to do it (or make a plan around how to do it) strikes me as a bit of critical thinking and basic sensibility that, if lacking, is going to impede your progress and that of everyone around you. Nonetheless, I have never seen this or anything like it as a publicly acknowledged corporate practice (Part of that might come from HR [or the "People Department" in some places; trust us, you're not an interchangeable human resource - that would be dehumanizing and set you up for comparable valuation to a self-administrating machine] since independent judgment is a FLSA exemption criterion.).

Updated 04 September to correct punctuation, improve phrasing, and clarify declarations under Vision, Diversity, and Fit Judgment.

¹ Wiktionary has a sweet secondary definition of accomplishment: "That which completes, perfects, or equips thoroughly; acquirement; attainment; that which constitutes excellence of mind, or elegance of manners, acquired by education or training." Nice!
² A momentary side note on judgment as a charged term. People judge all the time. It’s a basic survival instinct and it’s a bedrock component of good decision making. And it’s fundamentally neutral. The application of judgment, once it leaves your brain and is turned into real-world action, is not neutral. The application of judgment is charged with good, bad, or otherwise. We shouldn’t be reluctant to judge but we should be reluctant to judge and then act rashly.

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