The absurd

In moving house, I radically downsized my collection of books which I can highly recommend. I used to think I’d one day find a reason to keep all those volumes, but getting rid of them made me think they were actually a burden.

And by having just a few, it’s much easier to find my favourites and Richard Farson’s Management of the Absurd is right up there.

Just leafing through it today, I found this which strikes me as typical of his insights. he says “complete communication is quite boring” and describes a standard management training exercise in which listeners have to repeat back what they have understood the speaker to say, and not parroting, until there is complete agreement. On the surface, all very sensible. But here’s the rub:

When the experiment is continued beyond a few minutes, however, it begins to wear on the participants. Even though the heat has gone out of the discussion and people are fully understanding each other, an enormous amount of boredom sets in. Accurate communication has become both tedious and stifling. The exercise reminds us that the transfer of accurate information is only a small part of the role communication plays in our lives.

That’s a small iteration of a them that runs through the whole book. I’d add that what is attractive to bureaucrats about “accuracy of information” is that as well as sounding very worthy, it is superficially measurable. Unlike other things, like say enthusiasm, which may be neither in a lot of places…

(Here are some previous posts about the book.)

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