March 23rd, 2013

Adama Comic

The Right Thing to Do

I saw a blurb on USA Today about a woman who was addicted to painkillers. She was now advocating against taking Vicodin unless it was absolutely necessary, because it is so easy to crave the high and fall into an unsuspecting trap. I don't doubt that's true. For her. But my body chemistry is very different. Vicodin only works on me if I have severe pain. I only feel that "high" when I am managing pain through medication. When the pain is gone, I have no reaction to Vicodin whatsoever. I can take 20mg without feeling anything. That's when I know I don't need it any longer. Her advice is good advice for her, but not for me.

I often feel that way about my own advice to others, and try to temper other's advice to me in the same understanding. I think without that perspective, advice is far less effective. What works for me may not work for you, and vice versa. As someone who utilizes a strong logical ethic in decision-making, an emotional appeal wouldn't work to persuade me. It would be poor advice to someone who is interacting with me, though I can see where it would be beneficial in working with someone else. I understand that feelings may change over time - mutate, and it seems to me irresponsible to base decisions off them. Ignoring that has bitten me time and time again, even in capitulation ("Why did you let me do that?") Then again, others may enjoy the fluidity of re-visiting past decisions over and over and reevaluating them with that different filter time and again. I see the logic in that as well.

But what if there are no clear-cut answers? How do we, individually and collectively arrive at decisions? For the longest time I was employing my very basic understanding of Nash's Game Theory - doing what was best for myself, and the group. After all, its the only way we all get laid. But even those scenarios require that everyone is playing by the same rules. How do you make decisions in such a diverse group? The old business adage is to create a team with the right talent. While I remain a huge advocate of playing to strengths, teams with individual strengths and no collaborative skills do not net optimum outcomes.

The stakes are highest when a command decision is required between opposite requirements. Yet this is when collaboration is most important. Breaking down seemingly dissimilar directions into their individual components - an analytic/synthetic dialectic and focusing on how the differences can be resolved without having either party "give up" that which is important to them. Yet even this is not an answer, its still only a tool. Wielded by the wrong people - those who perceive individual components differently than others - is still problematic. In this hypothetical zero-sum game, if we encounter someone using rational choice theory - the egoistical extrinsic motivator of pursuing an inexplicable desire without an understanding of causality - the goal may never be reached.

This is because the two sides which make up collaboration, assertiveness and cooperation as defined by Organizational Behavior, is wrought through actual behavior. It takes a very open mind to work through these types of severe issues. A personal introspection which requires an understanding of not only intent, but the acknowledgement that intent and action can appear dissimilar to others, which brings us to communication ability. All of these are imperative in the many benefits of true collaboration, in all parties. There absolutely has to be a no-holds-barred mindset of doing whatever it takes to get our own needs met while also meeting the needs - not the expectations, but needs - of others. A tall order for some.

Here lately I've been bereft from decisions made. Yet looking back, and going through all the steps, it still seems to have been the optimum decisions given the talent and collaborative skills of the assembled team. Which emotionally, can be a bitter pill to swallow. The best possible outcome from a zero-sum team is still a zero-sum finish.