For those in peril …

February 4, 2012

I have a semi-allergic reaction to sounds bites that appear to lack thought before propagation. Its a part of my general complaint about modern politics. It used to be the case the politicians had to be able to hold an audience for a substantial period of time and deal with hecklers. Now they carefully craft the soundbite, avoid exposure and questioning. So as in politics so in the world of consultancy and I afraid the allergy clicked in when I picked up this tweet from Jurgen Appelo. He said Nobody _is_ a professional. But any person at any time can choose to behave like one. I responded The implication being that one should choose one's Doctor on behaviour rather than qualification. I'm afraid that upset Jurgen a little and I was accused of unsubstantiated criticism.

I rather liked the response to that from @sschuermann namely Sorry, but so many people simply dismiss anything as unsubstantiated. because it would challenge beliefs. However I promised to post something substantial, even though I think the error is self-evident! When I was looking for a picture to illustrate my concern I remembered seeing the lifeboat on exercise during my New Years Day walk. The crew of a lifeboat in Britain or Ireland is always composed of volunteers, mainly local fishermen who know the waters well. While they are volunteers they are supreme professionals, working to save lives under extreme conditions. They train extensively, they are in any sense of the word professionals with a proper apprentice model, training, certification and so on.

I'm working with another professional at the moment, my accountant who is very good at dealing with the consequences of my failure to regard regular book keeping as a important task. She also has qualifications, experience, training etc. etc. Thanks to the consequences of increasing age I am seeing more of my Doctor is also the product of a seven plus year process of training, examination and practice. So I am sorry Jurgen, but the statement that Nobody is a professional is arrant nonsense. Yes of course its good if people choose to behave in a professional manner, but they need to be one first. Behaving like a professional smacks of a superficial con trick, pretending to be something without putting in the effort to acquire the necessary skills and experience.  

Thats the problem with sound bites, and the soundbite generation. It may sound clever, but its too easy to make a vacuous statement. Then when challenged you have to back peddle fast, trying to pretend you meant something other than you said. Far better to think first.

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