That’s Just Stupid, You Moronic Idiot!

Mediation Blues

Getting Along

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I have often said I spent over two decades – the entire length of my career at Rocketdyne – trying to get Engineering to talk to Information Technology; two different groups of geeks, each of which thought they were superior to the other.

I didn’t work on it full time, and it wasn’t my job to get them talking, but had I been successful it would have made my job a lot easier. I worked at being a voice of reconciliation between them. It’s in my nature. I was not successful; at least not overall.

Now, the difficulty in getting these two organizations (we called them  “Processes”, as opposed to “Functions” or “Departments”) to talk to each other, was deeply ingrained in the culture of that enterprise. Part of the problem stemmed from the way we, as an enterprise, were organized. When I first arrived there in 1987, we were heavily command-and-control and pathologically hierarchical. There were kingdoms; fiefdoms, if you will and very few people thought further ahead than their own careers and organizations.

I’m happy to say things improved pretty dramatically over the years. One reason was the tireless efforts of a group of people, led by Dr. Bill Bellows, to apply the concepts and tools of thought leaders like W. Edwards Deming, Russell Ackoff, Edward de Bono, and many others to the way we did business. The term Dr. Bellows used for many years was Enterprise Thinking.

What made this way of thinking stand out, in my opinion, was its recognition of the systemic nature of an organization, an enterprise. It was clearly understood that all things – all processes or departments – were interconnected. Nothing in an enterprise exists by itself, outside the system(s) with which it interacts.

When you can clearly see this, suddenly you recognize how counter-productive it can be to blame people for things that go wrong, as well as expect individuals to make things work properly, which brings me back to the Engineering and IT departments I so futilely attempted to arbitrate for, as well as the title of this post.

Civility in Argument

Although I am guilty of it myself at times . . . I’m working on it . . . I don’t believe it is productive to blame others and, especially, to completely alienate them by using labels like “Idiot” or “Moron”. This is true whether you’re working together at an enterprise and – ostensibly – you share the same basic vision and goals, or you are on completely opposite sides of the political spectrum when it comes to how you think the country and the economy should be run.

I started writing this to make a point about the level of incivility I find at times on the Internet, especially in the comments of non-moderated news sites. Even the moderated ones contain some really argumentative and, at times, nasty comments. As I worked on what I was trying to say, the tragedy in Aurora played out and, true to form, the arguments between those who believe the second amendment is sacrosanct and those who wish to see access to guns more regulated are heating up.

My original intention was to point out how I have been able to get along with many very conservative people in my life, especially when we live and work together and see each other face-to-face on a fairly regular basis. I have long said that locally, in terms of how our cities and neighborhoods are run, we all want essentially the same things, e.g. safe neighborhoods, good schools, jobs, access to health care, etc.

I seldom have anyone disagree with this and it doesn’t surprise me. The problems seem to arise when we start talking about more abstract affairs; the economy, foreign relations, use of the military. Yet, I find with the people I know best we’re able to disagree without labeling each other as morons or idiots. We disagree but, somehow, we manage to continue getting things done together and not getting into actual fights over who’s right or how best to accomplish something.

I suppose this is one of our biggest problems in this country. Many of us have the tendency to ascribe the worst of motives to those they disagree with. I’m inclined to think that’s not a very good way to work together and achieve anything other than a continuous standoff. It seems that’s precisely how our government is now being run and it does not portend well for us as a nation. I’d like to see it stop.

A Taste of the Future

I have seldom written about politics or civic affairs here, but they weigh heavily on me. I have two young girls my wife and I adopted from China. I worry about the future they face here, where everything seems to be falling apart. I want to leave them a better world than I found as I was growing up and it sure as hell looks like that’s going to be a tall order.

I’ll leave this particular post with one thought and I will no doubt have more to say in the future . . . especially now that I’ve sort of broken the ice (not very well). Ironically, given I live in Simi Valley – still notorious for its role in the acquittal of the Los Angeles Police Officers who beat Rodney King, the thought that comes most readily to mind is, “Can’t we all just get along?” I know it’s a bit more complicated than that, but it is something to wonder about. It happens quite frequently in real-life, on the ground . . . as they say.

About Rick Ladd

Born in 1947, I was an officially retired pensioner, but in January of 2015 I returned to work as a contractor at Aerojet Rocketdyne. I remain intensely interested in, and fascinated by, Systems Thinking, Knowledge Management, Decision Intelligence, and Business in general. I am also conversant in such concepts as innovation and ideation, collaborative tools and strategies, crowd sourcing, and the use of social media to accomplish goals ranging from improving business processes to promoting small retail businesses. While "retired" I did a little bit of freelancing as an editor/proofreader, as well as some technical writing. There's lots more where that came from. Need some help? Perhaps another set of eyes? Contact me. The first one's free! ;0) View all posts by Rick Ladd

4 responses to “That’s Just Stupid, You Moronic Idiot!

  • Teza

    Ok, first – I think people should take care with their words – You don’t need (or, on my first read, deserve) a “tongue lashing”. You can think of a positive way to invite comments, can’t you? 😀
    Second – good article. You got my attention, even though I would “usually” NOT click through anything with only ‘idiot’ in the title.
    “Can’t we all just get along?” Even more – when people are face to face, we tend to be more civil — instant response/feedback or fear – whatever, we are (still) mostly taught to behave and be nice(r) to each other.
    But, when we sit down and write, some people seem to respond instantly, as you pointed out … “Many of us have the tendency to ascribe the worst of motives to those they disagree with.” and I contend, with great fervor, and the tiniest, tinest bit of information. How some people ascribe an entire lifestyle or motive to a minor (maybe even sarcastic – we know that sarcasm usually doesn’t work) or poorly worded but well intended question, is beyond me.
    So, if people WAIT until tomorrow to respond, (note: It isn’t tomorrow, but I thiink you deserve kudos, so I’m doing it now) then they will provide something valuable or they will forget about it and save a lot a people a lot of grief.
    First time that I have read your post – I’ll be back! thank you!!

    Like

    • Rick Ladd

      Thanks for the kind words, Teza. As you’ve probably figure out, I carefully chose the words for the title of this post in the belief it would grab some attention. In that respect, I have met with a modicum of success. I wasn’t entirely comfortable that I had clearly conveyed the message I wanted to, but sometimes you’ve just got to blurt it out and move on. The subjects of communication and collaboration are near and dear to me and neither is possible without mutual respect, so I’ll likely keep harping on the issue when the mood hits me. I appreciate you lending me your eyeballs, fingers, and intellect for a few minutes. Hope to hear from you again.

      Like

  • melbelle54

    Hi Rick, I have a few light hearted comics about internet comments:
    http://xkcd.com/481/
    http://xkcd.com/202/
    http://xkcd.com/1085/
    Enjoy!

    Like

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