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Friday, June 24, 2016

How to Argue -- Properly

     This very intense, very intelligent guy startled me by saying something I never had heard before.
     He interrupted a vigorous argument with me by saying. “You know, Jim, I see your point now. I agree with you. You’re right.”
     I was beyond surprised. Why did he do that?
     I’ve thought about that conversation often, and it has changed my basic thinking about why and how to disagree. I now see that the man understood argument in its finest sense, as an opportunity to jointly seek truth and value.
     At first look, this idea may seem ridiculous. But if you put aside conventional thinking, it changes the entire perspective.    
      Some people set out to win all their arguments. Some never win any. Many, perhaps most, rarely argue at all.
     Thoughtful people disagree with all of them. They know that all three types – those who dominate, those who lose the battles and those who avoid engagement entirely – are missing important opportunities. None of the three really know how to reap the benefits of constructive interaction amid differences. They misunderstand what argument can be and what it can do.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Project Outcome Slicing

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret
of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks
into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one.”
                                                     -- Mark Twain

     Good for you, Mark. The essence of process management is identifying the pieces, putting them in order and getting under way. So simple and logical to talk about . . . but often so hard to do. Or not the right thing to do first. Here’s why.
     Small, simple things generally are not intimidating, and they’re easier to take care of than large, tangled things. So we do lots of small, simple things – sometimes even when we really should be taking on the big, scary challenge instead.
     But there is a way to tame heavyweight challenges, and Mark Twain has put his finger on it . . . but a little lightly.
     You can waste a lot of time and effort, in little doses, by doing small things and hoping they’ll eventually accumulate into solutions for the big things. They won’t. Hoping, like wishing, is a favored preoccupation of those who don’t get much of anywhere.
     Mark Twain may well be the greatest American writer of all time, but he did not rank as high in process management. His formula gives us the how of success, but it omits the what. Without clarity about the desired outcome, an efficient production process can hustle you all the more quickly to failure.