I took seven days off, intending to take more but finding myself pulled back in. Instead of booking calls with clients, I took two days to sit in the stacks on the third floor of Yale University’s Sterling library and read. Yes, I did look at publications on technology advances from MIT and Stanford and IBM, but I also spent time reading some poetry (Ciaran Carson and Michael Longely) and a couple of pieces on ethics by Avishai Margalit.
I recommend you read your Margalit. One line of his caught me as regards social networks:
“It is not the case that I am caught in a web of beliefs. Rather, I am caught in a network of witnesses.”
The idea of the ‘witness’ is that our trust in the information or opinions or advice posted by an individual or on a site is a precondition to accepting that input. The first step, then, for any organization is to establish that they and their information agents are credible.
His corollary to this is the notion of ‘philosophica negativa’ and it has great applicability to business. It is his belief that a primary goal of a society is to have institutions that do not humiliate its members. It is not enough to do good, but equally important to avoid evil. If we apply this to customer processes, we can see many very practical approaches that are required to demonstrate that we understand the customer, respect their rights in interacting with us, and will do all within our power, as a for-profit organization, to accommodate them.
As I think of some of the greatest Gartner clients, they embody these principles, regardless of whether they stop and state them in this way. And these are profitable businesses and institutions.
What do you think? Would you consider yourself in this category? It is not a bad new year’s resolution, if you are inclined to such things.