4-GenerousInterpretations

generousinterpretation
" … never ascribe to evil intent what simple incompetence might explain."

My fourth Ethical Responsibility of 'Project' Work encourages me to at least consider Making The Most Generous Possible Interpretation. My natural interpreter tends to lean toward the more scathing, if only because scathing interpretations generate more entertainment value. Scathing interpretations rarely well serve any relationship. Unless you're surrounded by limping battalions of demonstrated sociopaths (see 3-ExtendingTrust), scathing interpretations seem imprudent. Was that component delivered late because of incompetence or a bit of bad luck? You decide, but you must decide with inadequate evidence. Will your collective effort be better served by a scathing or a more generous interpretation?

The rub, of course, seems to be that most of a 'project's' conclusions must be drawn with less than sufficient evidence. If there's no such thing as a 'project', there's also, usually, no such thing as a real root cause.
If only due to the cobbled together nature of 'project' work, the enterprise will largely mitigate against finding any irrefutable cause/effect relationships to explain any experience. Vengeance only rarely ever becomes the purview of the 'project' manager. Generally, acceptance of the way things are, or seem to be, more usefully rules their days. Scathing interpretations tend to distract from the effort at hand, so consider making up some acceptably generous interpretation and proceed.

Flow might be the most under-appreciated element of 'project' work. Disrupting the rhythm of an effort might well undermine the whole enterprise. An ounce of generosity generally works out to be worth more than a pound of any so-called cure because cures tend to disrupt flow, and flow might be usefully considered to be the most sacred element of any project. After the careful planning and the storming startup, once flow kicks in, a 'project' starts to take care of itself, quietly healing surface imperfections, moving along. The momentum will only rarely ever closely resemble the way one might have imagined it was supposed to be, but its finally flowing. Generosity encourages continuing flow.

I allow one exception to my GenerousInterpretation Rule. I call this The Most Scathing Possible Interpretation Rule, and it provides what The Muse and I refer to as after hours High Quality Consultant Humor. After an overlong day with clients, we consider a round or two of scathing interpretations to be our palate cleanser, helping to blow off the stink close consulting work tends to leave behind. Then, we quite deliberately jump to unwarranted conclusion based upon scantily-supported evidence, and laugh our fool heads off while doing it. We engage in this practice judiciously, and think of it as a dandy way to hone our awareness of how easily we might jump to self-destructive conclusions when engaging with our clients.

We each have the choice of whether we find ourselves surrounded by endless absolute idiocy or something more conducive to creative work. We each might have total control over which regime we experience, and the GenerousInterpretation Rule seems somehow tangled up in the resolution. Some famous somebody once insisted that one should never ascribe to evil intent what simple incompetence might explain. I believe that this famous somebody was exercising his Fourth Ethical Responsibility when he suggested that.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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