Mark Hammer

Thanks, Randy and Dave.

I’m going to stretch so hard right now, that the seam in my pants is in jeopardy. (Look out world!)

The issue of abstraction and its unwitting victim – urgency – is not unlike the difference between economic theory and real life. The abstraction is true, and economic theory can be true, but they are truths that march to a different time frame. Yes, markets self-regulate, yadda, yadda, yadda, but they do so over a period of time much longer than my landlord is willing to wait for the rent, or my kids are willing to wait for their next meal, or than the shoes on their feet will last. What people want and need in their lives are not the outcomes of economic models over a 12-year period, but something that impacts on their life right now.

And similarly, the executive summaries, quantitative summaries, “dashboards”, accountability frameworks, etc., and the planning retreats they feed, are all well-intentioned, and thoughtful. But they move in the time-frame of abstract thought, and do nothing about one’s circumstance, motivation, impact, respect, etc., right now.

There is often no conflict between the truth of one’s life as an employee, or as a citizen, and the truth of management’s or “government’s” ideas, or the truth of economic theory. But there is a big gulf between the time frames that each thinks in terms of. Someone else’s plan for my economic or career future may be perfectly in line with what I desire as employee or citizen, but the timelines are not. And often, the difference in timelines, simply because one deals in the abstract and one in the concrete, is such that the folks who deal in the abstract seem disingenuous.

To be taken “seriously”, as the question at the heart of the thread implies, is to be responded to in a tangible manner within a timeframe that seems sincere. We treat the turnaround time as symbolic, meaningful, and a barometer of both sincerety AND seriousness. I don’t know that it would ever satisfy all that many of us to be told “Hang on, we’re working on it”, but at the same time one needs some realism about the different time universes occupied by “them” and “us”. They’re an important divide.