I am drowning in information.
Of course, you are too.
From podcasts to blog posts to books to documentaries to white papers to research studies to op-eds to journalistic pieces… there is no shortage of people who “push out” information.
What’s becoming far more scarce, though, are people who can absorb the information, make sense of it, and then actually respond to it like a human being.
I was listening to an interview conversation between Daniel Pink and Brad Stone the other day. Please don’t misunderstand me — I love Dan’s work, and also I love this podcast (it’s one of the few podcasts I make time to listen to regularly). But for whatever reason, this particular episode made me realize that it’s become very popular to just “talk about” something in an “objective” way. In this instance, they were discussing Amazon, and the fact that Amazon is ruthless with their competitors. At some point during their conversation, it struck me as fascinating that somehow it’s become OK to just “talk about” the nature of ruthlessness, and to not make any kind of value judgement about it.
Should companies be ruthless? Should leaders be? Or, as fundamental pillars that hold up our society (businesses and the leaders that run them, I mean), should they maybe — just maybe — be held to a slightly higher standard than being assholes in the name of “business?”
To take this even a step further, shouldn’t our organizations be more than just a place where we destroy competitors and make money? After all, if we take out sleeping time, I live at my office WAY more than I live at my house… maybe my office should be a bit, well, nicer.
A pretty big part of being a human being is the moral assessments we can make about the world around us. At some level, our morality is what defines us — but many times we seem terrified of actually making a judgment about anything. If we do that, there will certainly be consequences, because certainly someone will hate what we said, challenge us, etc.
Who wants that!?
But in our fear, have we all become ungrounded pundits and stopped being humans?
Alan Kay once said that “a point of view is worth 80 IQ points.” Being able to clearly define why you stand for something is powerful; in a sense, it actually makes you smarter. But I’m starting to think most of us are just content to “point at” the thing, instead of talking about why it matters.