Friday, May 16, 2008

Intolerance of Vision

I've always been the type who likes to look far ahead on whatever trail I find myself. When I can see some obstacle, it only seems logical to report back to whomever is in command so they can make appropriate plans. What I've discovered is that some commanders are allergic to news portraying events beyond their mental horizon. "It's not going to happen for a week/month/year, why do you want me to worry about it?" That's a fair argument when you're in the heat of battle but rings empty when you're safe at home, eating dinner in front of the fireplace or when the battle-stations alarm is constantly clanging in your ear because everything is a crisis.

To ignore what lies ahead takes one of two types of people. The first is constantly in battle-mode and never feels like the have the luxury of looking down the road. There are managers who take this to the extreme by operating in this mode all the time and make management-by-crisis their modus operandi. If it doesn't get immediate results, they're not interested. It doesn't matter if doing things the easy way now will create 10 times more work later, the mantra is "why is it taking so long and when can we be done?" Quality, safety, sanity, all take a back seat to expediancy. The second type of person has a devil-may-care attitude and lives with their head in the sand. Worring about what might happen is for those wet-blanket types who keep telling me what to do like "wear your seatbelt" or "quit smoking". Nag nag nag, that's all they do. Can't they stop whining and live a little? While the latter is a case of simple denial, the former is clearly one of short-sightedness.

This brings me to tolerance. Imagine if General Custer had had a scout who kept him informed on the location of the belligerent Indian tribes but Custer got so annoyed by the constant reminders of upcoming trouble that he fired the scout. Having such a low tolerance for long-range vision (of both good and bad news) becomes a grim mistake. Having kept said scout and charging ahead anyway is completely within a commanders decision-making authority. It would not prevent the upcoming catastrophe but puts the mantle of blame solely on the commander. The scout's responsibility is to report what he sees and would be derelict in his duty to stay silent. The commander will be responsible for whatever happens regardless but ignoring information snatches from his grip the haven of excuses and tightens the noose of history around the neck of his legacy.

The deluded commanders ignore harbingers of bad news while deranged commander shoots them. The pragmatic one listens but takes his own counsel. At the very least, having another warm body around means one more person you can hand a weapon when you've circled the wagons and are faced with a relentless oncoming horde.

Do you know someone with a low tolerance of Vision? It'll take more than a visit to the eye-doctor to take off the blinders and open their eyes. Let me know if you discover an effective vaccine for this particularly nasty disease.
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1 comment:

  1. Kevin C.5:49 PM

    Interesting points. In many ways, not just in the workplace, I think we have become a nation of short sighted people who live from one crisis to another rather than thinking long term. Just look at the current mortgage crisis. It all comes down to people making an immediate commission on a mortgage to someone who cannot afford it and not thinking of the consequences coming down the road when the person cannot make the payments. It's reasons like this why I favor Socialism over Capitalism. We need to look at alternative economic systems, such as "Fair Trade" types of systems where people can be given the luxury of looking into the future rather than just looking at tomorrow morning.


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