The journey or the destination

There’s a concept in Neuro Linguistic Programming known as meta-programs which talks about people’s personalities sitting on a series of continua. As an example, the “Away from” or “Towards” meta-program has Towards people tending to state things in terms of what they want, and Away from people in terms of what they don’t want.

If a Towards person wanted to buy a car, they might talk about wanting safety features and fuel efficiency, whereas an Away from person would talk in terms of not wanting to feel unsafe, and not wanting to spend lots on petrol. In many ways, the same, and yet different meta-program perspectives can lead to horrendous arguments. Arguments that usually end with the words “we seem to be violently agreeing” or some such…

One example of this kind of personality continuum that I seem to see quite frequently is between people who focus on the journey, and those whose sole concern seems to be getting to the destination. I would put myself very much in the first category, and as is the way with these continua, would also suggest that journey people like me are far better able to adapt to the ambiguity of the modern world that those who are focused on getting to where somewhere that someone told them to go. This seems to be the sort of attitude that NLP tells you not to adopt, and one of many reasons why I don’t like the cultish nonsense (that, the self-confessed sociopath that co-invented it, and also how irritatingly it is that it seems to work so well). 

Discussions in a meeting this morning focused on whether a couple of competing applications could be delivered across the whole of the organisation. The applications are learning programmes to help managers take account of the cultural complexities that face them in our extremely global organisation. One of the applications has been chosen by the Learning & Development organisation, and has been licensed for use across the company. The other came out of work within a specific department as a result of operational issues that they were facing at the time.

It set me thinking. Often in my corporate IT days I have seen business units come to the IT department with a request for a product to be delivered after they have done a stack of analysis work. A conventional IT response to this is to take on a slightly haughty attitude, say that the business should have come to see them earlier, and then suggest the established “corporate” or “enterprise” application that should meet their needs.

What I wonder is whether this is the thinking of destination people? Is a prerequisite for a new system or service to be successful is the journey that the business unit managers must go through to acknowledge a need, define the boundaries of the problem that is identified, and then go through some sort of design or selection process? Without this process, everything becomes an imposed directive on maybe unwilling participants.

One thought on “The journey or the destination

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