Seeing the world clearly

One of my core principles is to continuously increase the clarity with which I see the world.

This is a top-level principle, and so I have a bunch of values and behaviours which flow from that.

I have seen this value misused. A bitter person misused it to excuse counter-productive behaviour, and an idealist misappropriated it to disguise their unwillingness to accept reality as it is.

Another value I have is for clarity around facts and observations. Particularly I want:

  • people to be specific about the source and validity of a claim, and
  • observations to be described distinctly from conclusions about observation.

For example, “Apache crashed” is a conclusion and “http 80 is not responding” is the observation. Other causes could be security groups or internet connectivity.

In a cool way, these values overlap with my bias to action. So when solving a complex problem, if I find things going in circles, I will write a clear problem statement. How to think clearly about problems has been studied and codified by systems like Kepner Tregoe. I think all good services organisations should use a consistent problem solving method and be sure all staff are trained in it; you cannot assume a University degree will give a person this skill.

Problem statements can be quite simple, though. You can just include:

  • the observed issue
  • the desired behaviour
  • a list of possible solutions

Update, March 2017: I found an absolutely superb article on this topic you should read for more detail.