Copyright © Dr. Stephen H. Dawson, DSL 2021
February 25, 2021
"Men differ LITTLE on what things they will call EVIL. They differ GREATLY on what evil they will call EXCUSABLE." G. K. Chesterton
We only see if we look. We only look by choice. We may glance at or skim through what we read, but neither of these actions results in seeing.
G. K. Chesterton made a point about humanity in his observation of men and how they differ. I understand that Chesterton uses the term man in his statement as mankind, the human species. I interpret one of his unstated points as this: a little evil brings great inexcusability. I wonder what a lot of evil would bring. I choose not to look for more evil. Chesterton did not make it clear what evil is and is not. I wonder how many people today care to look into what he meant.
I got new eyeglasses last year, the kind that reminds me I am not a kid who did not need eyeglasses. They look good on me. I see better with them. I do not like to wear them. I only wear them when necessary. Additionally, I am unable to discern evil with them.
I shared last week about being scared. I used this condition in the context of you being unsure of the strategy you propose to plan. We were going to talk next time about making people changes to your strategy work. Let's have this talk now.
Making changes to the work assigned to your followers, your people, means one of two things. Either they do not have the time to do the work, or they do not have the skills to do the work. If they are not interested in the work of their role, then that is another matter. It is part of my work to help my customers discern between these conditions. We look at the facts, then we call it for what it is. Many of my customers are afraid they will be calling their people evil when their people do not get their assigned work completed. A common term used today is optics. It is a subjective term. It is a horrible term, from what I see. Facts are facts. They are absolute. Nothing absolute needs perspective to understand the fact. We need to understand the repercussions of facts to know their value, and those repercussions require various perspectives to comprehend the complexities of their collective impact. Facts are not subjective. Hence, the difficulty in assessing the people productivity part of strategy work.
Looking at anything displeasing can be difficult. Looking at evil, for me, is displeasing. I cannot say a person is evil, as I do not believe it is possible. I can say their actions are or are not evil. I make this determination based on the espoused morality of my worldview found in my ethics. Meaning, my definition of evil is not necessarily the same as anyone else's. I do not consider evil when I look at research. I look for facts. Helping my customers do the same involves many prior discussions to learn their abilities, perspectives, and positions to comprehend their research abilities. It is not a quick look, a glance, or a skim of the research we accomplish to evaluate either the facts of their strategy or the work of their people to plan their strategy. It is a series of discussions.
Seeing an opinion unsupported by facts, to me, is a form of evil. I am allowing the person to share their opinions with me to convince me without relevant supporting evidence. Sure, there are times when this scenario is necessary for my best interests. HEY STEPHEN, GET DOWN! I confess that hearing these words, regardless of vocal tone, would at least put my head down. I would, once I am sure it is safe to raise up again, either thank them or ask them why they told me to get down. This simple example is to help you see how much time you could be wasting looking at work accomplished by your people but not seeing enough value from it. The intentional circular effort I shared about last week is what I am describing here. If you do not see value in your people's work, then you either have a communication problem or a worker skills problem. I set aside the possibility of a worker not having time to do their assigned work because you already took care of that problem earlier...didn't you? I cannot imagine you would have miscommunicated with your workers, as you have a written plan to accomplish work assignments...don't you? Did you talk with them, or did you send them an emoji hoping they understood what you intended to say to them?
If your people have the time and skills to do their assigned work, then the work will be accomplished as planned. If your strategy work is not progressing as communicated in your plan, then you have a people problem. It is not a technology problem. If it were, then you are executing the wrong plan. It is not a workplace problem. If it were, then you are executing the wrong plan. I could go on presenting examples here, but Pilita Clark explains it pretty well.
So, we have a people problem. Is it their fault they do not have the technology they need? Is it their fault they do not have the workplace they need? No, these are your problems as their leader. Perhaps they do not have the skills to use the technology. Perhaps they cannot get to the workplace. These are their problems. They will have to solve them to remain employed with you. It is not a matter of evil versus good, fair versus unfair, or happy versus sad. They are the facts you face while attempting to complete your strategy work. If the work must be accomplished, and your workers cannot complete the work as planned, then you must get other workers assigned to the strategy you need to have planned.
I tell you, from the position of both a professor and as a management consultant, the problem I just described to you is widespread today. We have not prepared today's students with enough skills to do the work in many roles involving strategy development. We have provided them pieces of education in the form of shorter degree program course durations with the expectation they will assemble these skills effectively into pertinent credentials. An outcome of these conditions over the past three decades is a student's inability to absorb the lesson material deep enough to achieve the transformational experience of education. This change occurred about the time microcomputers showed up in commonality. There is a direct connection between increased access to learning and learning deficiency caused by information overload. It is a realization of analysis paralysis. Meaning, many degree programs in the past few decades do not have enough analysis instruction contained within them. Those who experienced high achievement did so outside of a single degree path. See if the article by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Becky Frankiewicz rings a bell with you for how you look at your workers' circumstances. I recommend you get to the point of interpreting it.
Next week, we will begin to talk about how diversity, inclusion, and what Chesterton talked about with the human species will help you get out of the circumstances hindering your strategic planning work. Specifically, how to go about staffing your organization to do the work you need accomplished. We will approach the balance of emotion and logic by considerations of needs and wants.
So, I ask you: where do you want to go? I hope your answer is to develop the plans necessary to accomplish the strategy you know you need to achieve to arrive at your desired destination. If this is the case, then let's get to work. If not, then I wish you the best of everything.
I hope we will see each other here next week. Email me if you need to talk before then.
Dr. Stephen H. Dawson, DSL
Executive Strategy Consultant
Stephen Dawson is an executive consultant of technology and business strategy, serving significant international organizations by providing leadership consulting, strategic planning, and executive communications. He has more than thirty years of service and consulting experience in delivering successful international business development and program management outcomes in the US and SE Asia. His weekly column, "Where Do You Want To Go?," appears on Thursdays.
Dr. Dawson has served in the technology, banking, and hospitality industries. He is a noted strategic planning visionary. His pursuit of music has been matched with his efforts to lead by service to followers. He holds the clear understanding a leader without followers is a person taking a long walk alone.
Stephen has lived his life in the eastern United States, visiting most of the United States and several countries. He is a graduate of the Regent University School of Business & Leadership. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.