Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Listen Dumbo, Get out of my Face - A Call for an Increase in Common Sense

I recently sent through a strategy document that focused on social development and received a very polite, ‘thank you very much but we don’t think you are qualified to advise’.  That’s the politically correct version, of “Listen Dumbo, get out of my face”.  The funny thing about strategy is that it needs to address the question at hand and I think the biggest and most common mistake that we make is asking the wrong questions and as a result; we define the issue incorrectly. 

It would appear that I continue to have some of my least intelligent conversations with experts. 

I dread a conversation with ‘experts’.  

I swear that something must happen after someone is handed their PhD papers.  The brain goes on leave or something.  They are the quickest to power play and seldom answer my questions (my assumption is that their expertise has run out – their assumption is that I am simply so not on their level).  Whatever the cause, it seems almost impossible to teach an ‘expert’ anything or get a straight answer.    
My latest conversation with a so called ‘expert’ went something like this;

“So let me understand this, you want to increase the regulation and policy on a trade that is already illegal”...

“Yes.  In order to better manage the current situation we need to focus on the policy, legal and judiciary aspects of the trade.” 

“Okay, but the trade is already illegal and statistics indicate that this intervention strategy has had little to no effect to date.  So the fact that the trade continues means that the people who are engaged in trading have little to no regard for the law, which would suggest that making more laws will have little to no impact... Thus the definition of ‘illegal’...”

The dialogue degenerated rapidly from there.  Am I the only one who thinks that making more laws to manage people who simply disregard law as a waste of time, money and effort?  Why is it that when ‘an expert’ is not able to answer your questions your qualifications and title becomes automatically relevant.  
One of the biggest questions that is seldom asked is:  Is it working?  Are we getting the results that we are looking for?  What is the bottom line or cause (politically correct for ‘why’?)?  
And so having this experience regularly has highlighted another question; what makes somebody qualified?  Somebody with experience...  Somebody with knowledge...  Somebody with an education in the field...? 

These so called ‘experts’ that we hold in high esteem are often well equipped with knowledge.  They hold a piece of paper which they earned by researching a subject that is narrow in focus and makes them a specialist in a very specific field; a ‘paper’ which somehow in today’s society places them as an ‘expert’ in some field.  But somehow, possessing knowledge and the application of knowledge seem to be different activities all together.    

There are a few more things I think should be asked of someone when holding ‘experts’ in high esteem and those are:  What is their track record?  Do they hold a stake in the outcomes that are being sought?  How do they weigh the significance of result and process?  (Working hard and producing nothing, nor should getting the results at all costs be held in high esteem)  What are their intentions insofar as contributing to the matter at hand?  Do they actually care to use their expertise in a way that contributes positively to society and achieve the results that have been prioritised?   

When a position held or expertise sought is to attain money and power... whatever the decisions, the outcomes will generally not be ones that will benefit the majority. 

This way of thinking is not new and is bound to reoccur in a society that holds in high esteem; money, position and power.
Another conversation of note with an ‘expert’ concluded something like this...

“Please excuse my wife as she is just not that educated you see.”  A statement followed by a condescending little pat on her arm and a flicker of hurt on her face.
                A statement said to the same wife who raised his children while he pursued his PhD.  A statement to the same women who got pregnant in high school with the same man and who paid her in dues in lost opportunity and a life time spent with a man who now looks down at her.  A woman who, even though he is the reason why she never had the opportunity to pursue her own dreams, is the reason he has a PhD today. 

Yes, there we agree.  There is a fool in the room.  But it’s just not your wife” I think to myself.

Thus, my conclusion on the matter is quite simple.  There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom and an educated fool is simply that: a fool with a bunch of papers. 

That being said, isn’t it time we start addressing the issues and the outcomes?  

- END - 

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