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Ideas are better than ideology

Paul Glen | Oct. 13, 2015
Using a core set of beliefs about the right way to do things can seem like the most professional approach to evaluating ideas. It isn’t.

Although most IT people think of the “gut check” as the quick and lazy way of doing things, relying too heavily on ideology is really the quickest and easiest way of all. The rubric against which an idea is judged is not the messy, complex, idiosyncratic situation at hand, but simply a set of rules or principles. Comparing an idea to an idealized worldview is the shortest shortcut there is. Of the three generic approaches, ideology is the only one that relieves the decision-maker of the burden of professional judgment. In fact, taken to extremes, which happens all too often, ideology prohibits personal judgment, prescribing approaches and activities as moral virtues rather than as potentially good ideas to be vetted and considered.

And this is where problems begin to happen. When managers replace professionalism with ideology, they turn their success over to an abstract system of thought. The best decisions are made when managers retain responsibility for their own decisions, applying their own judgment, leveraging all the tools at hand, including analysis, gut checks and the wisdom contained in ideologies, rather than accepting them as delivered truth.

 

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