Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Topic for Controversy

When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.
~ William Hazlitt, English essayist and literary critic

Another milestone for this blog- my 200th post in less than 9 months. Not too bad. Constantly writing leads me to constantly think about topics of interest, and as a result of topics of controversy. At work, we always seem to be shoulder-deep in the later. And while it's all well-intentioned, it can on occassion be tiresome. However, the controversy is necessary if we are to move forward.

I freely admit that I have a distinct reluctance to engage in controversy. Not that I have a problem with carving my own path, considering and re-considering emotional and complicated issues, or speaking my mind. On the contrary, I excel at all three of those things. What I have a tough time with is belaboring number after number with no consideration of the information contained within those numbers. I have little tolerance for the constant rehashing of the same material over and over again. I can't stand constant controversy over a single topic. I am a firm believer in the "get on board this ship or find a new one" when it comes to the strategic direction of a company. And some times I get on board, and some times I bail. But I never get on board if I don't fully believe that the ship is being steered by an able navigator. Once the controversy is settled, the real work of moving down the chosen path begins. A company can't move forward while the seas of controversy rage.

This time of year there is plenty of controversy to go around - what to do about the economy, the next Presidential administration, our own foreign relations, the war in Iraq, our environment, and the list goes on. No matter what side of the fence we fall on with these issues, the interest and passion has yet to wane. And for that, I'm grateful. We don't have the best answers yet. We have huge problems in this world, and we need the controversy and its companion, interest, to unearth the the best solutions. However, at some point soon, on many if not all of these topics, we will have to make a choice. As one co-worker said to me recently as we left a particularly heated meeting "it's amazing how quickly something gets done when it absolutely has to get done." At that point, the topic of controversy has to shift to resolution, as does the interest of those involved.

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