The Eagle Blog

Is Pragmatism a Thing of the Past?

Common sense quoteWebster 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.”

There are numerous examples today where society seems to have gone mad.

This week Jerome Kervie, a rogue trader who cost his employer about 5 million Euros and subsequently served a three year jail sentence won his case against that employer for unfair dismissal!  Excuse me!  Who would want to be an employer with judgements that “in pragmatic terms”defy any kind of logic!

We have seen some changes in the way that police are allowed to operate, both here in Toronto and other cities around North America … because there have been some high profile injustices.  Well violent crime is up here in Toronto, and I read recently that shootings in Chicago are 70% higher than this time last year.   Perhaps the number “problems” is unacceptably high, but it still represents a small percentage of interactions with police.  Perhaps the response should focus on the problems rather than changes that affect everyone.

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.  Nobody is allowed access to the internet because someone was caught surfing porn or everybody needs to change their dress code because the CEO spotted someone in ripped jeans.

We see changes in behavior sparked by one off events or results.

We see attitudes changed because of one incident.

For me pragmatism means keeping things in perspective.

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

It means taking time to understand the facts.

It means being 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?

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

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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