Principles & Trade Offs

by | Dec 7, 2022 | Learning, Strategy |

trade offs

What happens when principles clash? Or when our ideas of how to implement them are different?

A discussion. Or debate if you perfer.

Seems obvious doesn’t it. And yet, it is often rare. Or rare that the discussion is out in the open. It’s like we are ashamed that there is disagreement. That somehow it is wrong. This is unfortunate and I am not sure it serves anyone particularly well.

Principles do clash. The humanitarian principle of neutrality is challenge in environments where different actors have functioning data management systems. Which one do you use? People centred data management can clash with a desire for a certain type of efficiency and value for money. So does localisation. And there is security, protection, and privacy meeting usability head on. And of course, each principle or idea can be interpreted differently by different people.

Unfortunately, we shy away from discussing these trade offs because we are embarrassed the trade offs exist. We believe there is a right and wrong – an either/or. And then when we see others interpreting the principles different to us, we fear being ‘proved wrong’. We approached discussions as debates to be won and lost, not as spaces to learn and share. We go primal, lashing out, which serves no one.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

There is no one way to implement principles. There are multiple ways. And it looks different in different contexts and different organisations. We are all balancing different plates.

When we create spaces for open discussions, we learn and see new perspectives. And most of the time, if we listen well, we realise the others are like us trying to figure it out and making decisions about trade offs.

Who could you talk to this week?

Photo by Yi Liu


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *