The imaginary midget
This is an attempt to transpose a concept deeply rooted in the German cultural context into another language. Bear with me.
Professor Dueck has a column titled "
" (loosely translated: imaginative dwarfs|midgets|gnomes), dealing, besides others, with the Greek crisis.
It draws heavily on a very German childhood classic "
Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver
". In this famous children book and
string puppet play
Mr. Tur Tur
who is a
(Scheinriese). From a distance
Mr. Tur Tur looks like a huge giant
, but the closer you come, the more normal he appears until you close enough to see that he's a normal person.
Now the "Scheinzwerg" in Dueck's article is just the opposite: the further away you are the smaller it appears. Once you are close, you see the real dimension, which tends to be way bigger than estimated, imagined or even feared.
In real life that doesn't refer to people but rather tasks, problems or missions.
We are all familiar with "Scheinriesen", that impossible huge looking task (learn to swim, to cycle, to play an instrument, or
ask for permission
), that shrank when we got close.
The other type is as common, but hidden in plain sight. So I shall name it "
- which is the accepted abbreviation for what it turns into when getting close enough: "Mission impossible". Now if you happen to be Ethan Hawke, all is good. For the rest of us some samples:
- We will grow double digits, faster than the market
- Just change the application architecture the week before life
- The [insert-crisis] can be easily solved by [insert 140 characters or less]
- They are just 5 little changes, the deadline must not be moved
- Become world champion, we know how: run 100m in 8 sec
- Hire 9 women to give birth to one child in a month
are the single biggest source of eternal tension between management (corporate and political) and executing experts (anyone: "
I don't want to hear problems, I want solutions, you have 10 minutes
Since management has (necessarily?) distance to operations (the big picture needs a vantage point to be seen), a lot of
appear really tiny (just lets hire the right talent, never mind that pay, reputation and markets that don't have them available to us) and stuttering in execution is interpreted as incompetence or defiance.
In return the "Gods from Olympus" are seen as living in heavenly spheres (also known as
management reality distortion field
The solution is simple (I hope you can see the irony in this statement): We need to add "watching out for
" to our professional
portfolio of conduct