Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Link of the Day
On "need you to". A brilliant article tracking the rise of "need" over "must" or "should".
Now, to the beancounters among you, this no doubt sounds petty. But, strangely enough, I've been thinking about exactly this question lately in a tiny corner of the back of my mind - why, esp in the corporate world, is telling people about "needs" now the most appropriate way to construct a request?
I think it points to a deeper psychopathology within the corporation - that there is still little free will and social capital, ultimately the greatest sources of creativity and innovation, living inside most firms. When social capital is around, you do things because they "should" be done - not because ten layers of managers "need" them to be done.
It's very alarming, I agree. You can notice these patterns in everyday speech. I would pin it to the rise of entitlement thinking and victim mentality perpetrated by liberal politicians.
"should" opens that matter up for debate, because its subjective, open for interpretation.
"need" however has the patina of objective, immediate, truth.
"I need to eat" is a bit different from "I should eat," isn't it?
So framing a 'need' rahter than framing a 'should' avoids all that unsighly discussion.
Very interesting stuff. In fact, I agree 100% and would go even farther - I would argue that "need" implies hierarchy and a kind of legitimated authority, whereas should implies norms and shared beliefs/values/culture. Which is ultimately the problem - not everything in life (or commerce) is built on largely obsolete hierarchical relationships.
Food for thought.
Thx for the commments.