in and out of the line of sight

I had an interesting experience last week. I’ve been doing a lot of management training courses recently, in part because it’s available but mostly because I’m putting in some work to cement the skills I’ve been acquiring through experience.

During the discussions, I bring up some of the things I’d read about at some point in the past, those that stuck with me. One of the first popular management books I remember reading was the Peter Principle, which is basically that people in an organization are promoted to their level of incompetence. That is, being good opens doors to promotion and then no longer being good closes those doors.

The interesting experience last week was bringing up the Peter Principle and having to explain it, because the others hadn’t heard of it. This led me to start thinking and my thoughts went down several different roads.

The first is wondering whether these references I’m pulling out of my past are outdated or have been superseded. My reading wasn’t from the academic literature but rather was from books written more for the popular audience. I haven’t gone back and checked what research has been done for instance on the validity of the Peter Principle. I’m hesitant to add this to the near-infinite list of projects, but perhaps a conversation with one of my colleagues in the Business School might be in order.

Another road, and one that is common to many academic endeavours, is that the literature continues to grow. Humans are curious, about ourselves and the world around us. We keep exploring and we keep publishing what we have found.

As glorious as this is, the issue for each of us is that it becomes harder and harder to keep up; it becomes harder and harder to keep track of what remains true and what becomes superseded by new research. And with an idea like the Peter Principle, it is easy to see how more research, more data and a closer examination of that data, could lead to that verification. It may be that this has been done, and that’s what I want to find out.

Yet another road is that my examination of the literature is somewhat haphazard. I would like to believe that I’m good at keeping track of what’s going on in my area of mathematics, what questions remain open and what is the direction of work being done.

But my casual reading remains casual; reading what catches my eye and my attention. And I want to keep it that way. And so a piece of work to do, is to think through how I can reasonably keep track of some of these other areas, outside of my own mathematical patch. And there are always things to do.

~ by Jim Anderson on 21 March 2021.

3 Responses to “in and out of the line of sight”

  1. Dude, how did I have to find out about this blog from LinkedIn?? I’m pretty busy right now (who isn’t?), but I want to read everything you have written here.

    • Howdy and I hope you enjoy the reading. I suspect some of the earlier posts won’t have aged all that well, but I’d be interesting in hearing what you think. Take care and stay safe

  2. […] If you’re interested, some of these past posts can be found here and here, here and here, here and here, here and here. Another thing I’ve discussed along these lines is transparent […]

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