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Is Pragmatism a Thing of the Past?

Webster defines pragmatism as a reasonable and logical way of doing things or of thinking about problems that is based on dealing with specific situations instead of on ideas and theories.

I like to think of pragmatism as common sense ... but of course, as Voltaire is credited with saying. "Common sense is not so common."

In businesses we see it all the time. Something goes wrong and there is a reaction, which might be out of perspective with the situation. We see changes in behavior sparked by one off events or results. We see attitudes changed because of one incident.

  • The company stops financing computer purchases because someone left and didn't pay their outstanding balance.

  • A company stops dealing with smaller customers because one small customer went out of business and didn't pay their bills.

Governments are notorious for this:

  • A few "rogue" companies play fast with the rules and thousands of legitimate companies get hamstrung with stricter regulations.

  • A lobby group gets traction with the government of the day and policies are enacted that affect thousands.

For me pragmatism means keeping things in perspective.

It means trying to apply common sense in a world that wants to "react" to every situation.

It means taking time to understand the facts.

It means being as fair as possible ... in a world that is not fair.

It does not mean affecting everyone adversely in order to address the issues of a few.

What are your favorite examples demonstrating a lack of pragmatism?

I expect there are many who have been disappointed in government reactions to the pandemic. Are small retailers with good protocols a higher risk than the big box stores? Does closing gyms entirely really stop the spread? Are there more pragmatic solutions? Could we have done better wth the long term care homes? Could we have had stricter measures on travel that would have been effective? Could we have had our pandemic response managed by the pandemic response people rather than the medical profession?

Being in government right now is HARD, and noone has covered themselves in glory ... but perhaps a little more pragmatism could have helped!

"The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense." Thomas A Edison