Not by Argument

When I first read the saying, “PEOPLE ARE CONVINCED NOT BY ARGUMENTS BUT BY OBSERVATION,” I pondered deeply about it.

For someone who is so interested in logical inferences, I was a little bit skeptical. For many years I believed that arguments are the best tool for convincing people. Set the right premises, and express clearly the conclusion, and that’s it, if you are good enough, your arguments will be irrefutable. People will be convinced.

I was wrong.

Gradually I have observed and learned that verbal argument actually sometimes is the last part in the process of changing minds. After we have observed enough actions, our mind becomes open to the arguments behind that action. If in case, arguments come first, we tend to wait for compelling actions before we are convinced. Then again, after we have carefully observed the action, the arguments just naturally follows.

If a person wants me to believe that he’s trustworthy, no amount of argument will convince me; I need to observe his actions.

If in case a person shows me trustworthiness in her action, even without explaining, I will be convinced that I can trust her.


A snapshot from Leadership and the One Minute Manager

Different Strokes for different folks,” is one of the first themes that will welcome you when you read the book, Leadership and the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard.

The book discusses the concept of the “Situational Leadership” where the leader must have three skills: diagnosis, flexibility, and partnering for performance.

Situational Leadership is a distinct approach to leadership. A situational leader does not adhere to only one style of leadership in his way of dealing with people. Instead, he adjusts his leadership style according to the situation. Different situations means different levels of the competence and commitment of the individuals.

For years I have believed that if I want to be a good leader, I need to choose my preferred style and then develop it. Now I realize that I need to learn and develop different styles so I will be able to adjust to the need of the situation.

Autocratic vs Democratic

My father was a military. So I grew up in his highly militaristic, overly directive, domineering, and excessively commanding, autocratic approach to leadership. For yeas I was impressed. I thought that was the best style of leadership. Later I realized that I believed it was the best because it was the only style I was familiar with.

After I graduated from college, I got involved in small business. My trainings, seminars, and my mentors introduced me to a more democratic way of leadership. I learned to motivate people by letting them participate in some of the leadership roles. Empowerment is the key, supportive style is vital. During those years I shifted my allegiance from the autocratic to democratic style of leadership. I came to conclude that democratic is better than autocratic; support and empowerment is more needed than directions.

After almost another decade of continuous learning, I came across with this concept of situational leadership. Here, I have learned that in some situations, autocratic is the best approach—but not always. In some circumstances, democratic is the best—also not always.

Another few more years this idea was fortified by learning that it is dangerous to become democratic in a chaotic environment. Likewise, it becomes ineffective to use a militaristic, autocratic style during peaceful situations. Normally we apply democracy in a peaceful society; and we shift to iron-fist autocratic approach during civil wars and other chaotic conditions. We don’t mismatch the style with the need of the society.

If you are going to ask me, “Which is a better leadership style, democratic or autocratic?” my answer would be another question, “What is the current situation of the people? Because both styles are better, depending on the situation.”
No one leadership style will fit in all situations: we need to be flexible.

According to the Leadership and the One Minute Manager there are four basic styles that come from the combination of directive (autocratic) and supportive (democratic) styles: directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. Situational Leadership

Directing Style is more on direction than support. Coaching style has a balanced blend of directive and supportive behaviors. Supporting style has more supportive approach than direction. Delegating style is low both in direction and support.

If we mismatch, let’s say, if we delegate a task to an incompetent person, most likely, he will fail. If we give too much direction to an experienced staff, he will most likely be irritated.

The best approach is to match the style of our leadership to the need of the person we are leading—that is, we adjust to his development level. That is the flexibility of a situational leader: the ability to adjust his leadership style to the growth of his men.

That brings us to another necessary skill in leadership: diagnosis.

Equality for Unequals?

Can we truly objectively dispense equality to all people? We always argue that we are unique individuals, that we have unique ways of looking into the world, into our life and experiences. We have long time accepted that no two individuals are exactly alike . . . that we differ in personality and temperament. Why then do we expect equality?

Kenneth Blanchard, in his book One Minute Manager says,

“There’s nothing so unfair than the equal treatment of unequals.”

I couldn’t agree more.

If I performed exemplary well in my job, I didn’t want my boss to reward me by publicly announcing my name to be heard by the entire organization as he enumerates the exemplary actions I made and then handing me a trophy or medal to be seen by everyone. No, for an introvert person like me, that’s very awkward. I don’t like it. Instead, I would ask my boss—if he really wants to reward me—to give me a few days of vacation so I can have time for myself and my loved ones. That is the reward I would be more than happy to receive.

On the other hand, my colleague didn’t want a few days of vacation. Instead she would be excited even just by the thought that she would walk on stage while all employees are clapping their hands as they stare at her.

Why is that so? Because we are completely different. What motivates her, does not motivate me, or even worse . . . demotivates me. Sometimes, vice versa. How then will our boss treat us “equally”?

In training, even in management, there are people who need first to be hurt before they obey you, while there are who don’t need persuasion at all: they are already aligned with your thoughts.

Unfair fairness

Sometimes, we insist to have “equality” if it favors us. If not, we seldom care. We demand equality mostly when we are envious of other people who have received favor that we have been expecting for ourselves. Don’t we realize we become “unfair” when we demand equal treatment to everyone?

People are not equal. Everyone is unique. Although we have some basic similarities, we differ in our paradigms, beliefs, values, attitudes, behaviors, and many other things. The things that excite me, may be absurd to others. What triggers my rage, may just be a laughing matter to some. What I love, some people hate.

_ ___ _ ___ _ ___ _ ___ _ ___ _

One of my staff in my office needs detailed step-by-step instructions, while my other staff needs general direction. If I happen to interchange my approach to them, we all end up confused and exhausted: the one who expects general instruction will be limited to use her creativity; the one who requires step-by-step direction often got lost; and I, eventually scratch my head and repeat the process from the beginning—bewildered on what happened and why.

Within few months, I learned to adapt to their natural inclinations and capitalize on their strengths. The only way I can be fair with both of them—I reflected deeply—is to treat them differently.

In the training field, I encounter similar situation. Cadets have different triggers. When I shout at them, others will be made active, while others will get confused and unable to move.

In the classroom, the same things happen. Some prefer reading assignments; some verbal discussion; and others prefer practical application. That is why teaching syllabi include different methods of delivery. If my approach to my students revolve only on giving them reading assignments “equally”, I would be unfair to those who don’t prefer reading. If I devote more time to lengthy verbal discussions, those who prefer reading type of learning will be bored.

Fairness and equality are not the same. we can be fair yet not equal. Ironically, we can also treat people with equality while at the same time being unfair to them.

People differ in many ways. We can always provide them “equal” treatment, but remember this:

They will not receive it equally—and the impact of our “equal” treatment to them will not always be equal: some will take it as blessing; some as a curse.

Can We Manage Science?

When I answered the posted question in our Discussion Forum about my understanding of the concept of CREATIVITY, and whether creativity can be managed or not, I accidentally provoked a somewhat unexpected almost violent reaction from a devoted classmate—devoted only to her paradigm—and blinded to others’ perspectives. At first, we just went circling around unclear premises. Fortunately, the discussion went very interesting and, I believe, very healthy as well, and even attracted other classmates who claimed to have learned and were enlightened somehow. Thanks to the challenger, the dialogue stretched us both!

In that controversial discussion about whether creativity can be managed or not, I delivered a quite unpopular approach by stating that, “CREATIVITY CANNOT BE MANAGED,” while at the same time explaining how it can be managed. Although the entire argument revolved around the idea that indeed creativity CAN BE MANAGED, I intended to state the opposite . . . to give emphasis on H O W creativity can be managed, that is, management is not done directly to creativity. Rather, if we want to manage creativity, we need to concentrate on its ENVIRONMENT and not to CREATIVITY itself. In other words, it’s the environment that fosters creativity that we can effectively manage. By ensuring that the factors that make creativity possible is what CREATIVITY MANAGEMENT is all about.

In this similar topic—CAN SCIENTISTS MANAGE SCIENCE?—I would like to take a similar approach, but with a little twist. I would argue here that yes, SCIENCE CAN BE MANAGED. And then at the end, I will challenge the very notion I have just established.

Science . . . and Arts

In my previous understanding, SCIENCE and ARTS are two different things. Sometimes I see them as a dichotomy—many things can EITHER be only art or only science. They are opposite. Now I understand there are also more abstract cases where both arts and science coexist. One example is leadership. For me, LEADERSHIP is both an art and a science. Another one is LOGIC—the art and science of correct thinking.

While leadership and logic are both art and science; management in general is mostly science. Also, while creativity is more than an art than a science, its management is more of a science than of an art. Therefore in my post about creativity, I argued that creativity and management are opposite. Here, however, I argue that science can be managed in a sense that both MANAGEMENT and SCIENCE are in the same end of the dichotomy. They are both sciences.

In simple and unelaborated way, science, according to my Encarta Dictionary is a SYSTEMATIC BODY OF KNOWLEDGE. In simpler terms, SCIENCE IS KNOWLEDGE. Now, substituting the synonymous terms in our topic, I would say that yes—SYSTEMATIC KNOWLEDGE CAN BE MANAGED.

Extending further, I consider that knowledge is a tool that we use every day. In that sense—SCIENCE AS A KNOWLEDGE, AND KNOWLEDGE BEING A TOOL—yes it can be managed in some degree.

Managing the evolution

Science has dramatically evolved in the past decades and is continuously evolving today. It didn’t evolve on its own, and it is not evolving on its own today. Science has many branches. We call each branch as a discipline. These diverse disciplines collaborate with one another to MANAGE the evolution of science. We manage science through CREATIVE research. BIOLOGY continues to evolve. This evolution affects the evolution of medicine. Simultaneously, PSYCHOLOGY is also continuously evolving thus affecting also the evolution of both BIOLOGY and medicine and probably other disciplines. ARCHITECTURE’S evolution is affected by the evolution of ENGINEERING which is in turn affected by the evolution of our knowledge of ELECTRICITY, CHEMISTRY and other disciplines as well. Our knowledge in chemistry, as it evolves, also affects the biologists’ knowledge in biology.

Science is one whole big body of knowledge of many branches that are somehow interconnected. Management of one branch affects the other branches. In other words, continuous research in one branch affects other related branches.

Science as a knowledge . . . as a Tool

As knowledge—a systematic body of big knowledge—I believe we can manage science. We don’t need to be scientists to manage our own knowledge. Some are disciplined in the field of medicine, some in architecture, some, in the science of Marine Engineering.

Marine engineers can of course manage their own knowledge in the science of marine engineering. Those engineers on board international vessels continue to be part of the evolution of this branch of science. New discoveries in PHYSICS affect the science of engineering. On board, the engineers continue to catch up to new technologies—modern machines they never thought possible before. Now however, facing the facts, marine engineers need to adjust. They need to manage their own knowledge about this specific knowledge (science in marine engineering), or else, they will be left behind.

Scientists in the maritime field continue to manage the science of marine engineering. And a lot of factors that they consider in their researches are those factors that come from the reports of the actual marine engineers on board, these engineers who keep on adjusting their knowledge just to catch up. As they manage the engine and the entire engine department onboard a vessel, they make lots of analyses and syntheses. These activities are always logged on in official record books. (Now they already have modern computer software that will do some parts of the analyses and syntheses.) Copies of these records are sent to the owners of these vessels and or other authority for continuous study. This will then be the basis for the new research. After the research, implementation follows. Installing of new and modern machines on board the vessels forces marine engineers to take special training and advance their knowledge of the marine engineering science as well. It’s a cycle between the engineers and scientists.

All of these happen because both the scientists and the ones in the field are successfully managing not only the science of marine engineering but science as a whole. As I have said, the branches are interrelated. Our discipline is benefiting from the science of ELECTRICITY and CHEMISTRY.

But . . . let’s think again

Although we can manage science in many aspects, there are areas that we cannot truly manage. Ironically, although science gives us easier life, it also threatens that easy life to end sooner, quicker. In medicine, the invention of pain relievers tremendously affects the psychology of many individuals. We no longer appreciate the gift of pain. Because of these pain relievers, we now tend to condemn PAIN and avoid it as much as possible without ever realizing that pain helps us survive. It affects our attitude.

Modern household technologies make us lazy and make us prone to complain. Because of those technologies that promote speed, we forget the virtue of being slow. We want everything fast and instant. Beauty products that are product of chemistry and biology continue to change how we perceive BEAUTY. Even software like Photoshop distorts our perception of beauty. Natural is no longer natural.

Modern science also brings us problems, dilemmas, and chaos beyond imagination. The wars, modern crimes, new diseases, and unpredictable weather are mostly products of the “successful management of science.”

That’s the irony. We tend to isolate science from arts and other areas of life even from our spiritual life. We tend to look at the past and consider all advances in science as success without realizing its negative effects in other areas of our life. Because of this, we are now in great danger. Global warming is just one, but this is global. It is affecting the entire planet. This global warming, a clear and present danger is just the product of so called DECADES OF SUCCESSFUL MANAGEMENT OF SCIENCE. My personal conviction tells me that if we are truly in control, we will be able to stop instead of aggravate these problems. The whole world is an INDIVISIBLE  WHOLE. We cannot manage just one area (like science) while neglecting other areas like our values, ethics, spiritual growth, relationships, and many other areas in our precious lives. We need to integrate all these into one. We need balance.

If we truly believe that we can totally manage science, we better think again.