Schlagwort-Archive: Limits

When the best becomes standard

It has always been difficult to form an opinion about companies, products, employers, employees, travel destinations, films, books, authors, and stage plays. The list could go on forever. Due to the fast pace of life, we have no time to familiarize ourselves with something so that we can form our own opinion. Since price no longer provides an indication, specialized valuers have developed offers that make the assessment for you. They regularly produce overviews that offer the rationale for decisions – product tests, employer rankings, technology ratings as well as restaurant and hotel guides and even book, theatre and film reviews. The more established the rating agency, the more standardized the rating scale – e.g. Michelin stars or the Gartner Group hype cycle. An example of these new business models are platforms that classify employers – Kununu, Great Place to Work, Glassdoor or Trendence. We are getting used to delegating assessments to others, knowing that not all stars and likes can be trusted. A bad rating is not in the interest of the rated company and consequently not in the interest of the valuing platform. This distorts reality: fake stars or the use of an external rating as a marketing tool.

The difficulties start with the description of the properties and the process of an evaluation. They end with charts, which are filtered and sorted until the company is placed on the front ranks. This makes everyone the best, the biggest, the most successful, the most effective, etc. This use of top rankings leaves no room at the top for the real leading companies. Not everything is mega-great-super. But what scaling’s are available for evaluation? The language offers at least three levels for grading properties.

  • The simple description
    Starting point are adjectives expressing characteristics and attributes of something or someone, e.g. the sensual description of colors (e.g. red, green, blue) and shapes (e.g. round, square, angular), sounds (e.g. loud, soft, strident), feelings (e.g. soft, rough, hot), smells (e.g. sour, sweet) and tastes (e.g. bitter, umami). We also describe economic, artistic, and moral qualities – the beautiful painting; the innovative smartphone; the trustworthy company. We describe cultures (e.g. pre-Columbian tribes in North America) and express quantities (e.g. many, hundreds). Sometimes we reach the limits of descriptiveness when words have to be invented, e.g. the German sitt for not thirsty; edutaining for educating entertaining.
    The unenhanced form of an adjective makes it easy to label all expressible facts and offers an introduction to an evaluation.
  • The valuing comparison
    It usually does not stop in describing something. We quickly begin to compare with something else. This generates priorities, rankings or super-/sub-ordination, which are unconsciously perceived and create a preference – if the balloon is redder than the other; if something round is described as rounder; if something strident is described as more strident; if a hint makes something sweet smell sweeter; when something bitter tastes even more bitter. An objective evaluation of right or wrong will be difficult after this proposition. These statements reveal a lot about the speaking persons, who use them to externalize their inner evaluation – as long as they don’t do, as if, in order to manipulate others.
    The heightened form of an adjective enables an evaluation in comparison to something similar and sets a standard with it.
  • The confining upper limit
    The ceiling of the evaluation is reached, when there is no further increase possible – the reddest red, the roundest round, the shrillest shriek, the sweetest sweet or the bitterest bitter. The objectification is attempted with appropriate measuring methods – if the wavelength of red (between 630 and 700 nm) is detected or the pungency of a chili is measured with the help of the containing capsaicin. Nevertheless, subjective perception can lead to different results. At the end of the day, everyone’s personal evaluation is valid for all of them – if something is by far the absolute, mega-super-duper Smurfeedurfee.
    This highest level of an adjective forms the upper end of the scale. In order to leave room for truly outstanding qualities to be evaluated, this superlative should be used very rarely.

Bottom line: Characteristics are the basis for our decisions. They always cover a range – from almost not perceptible to the maximum. The evaluations cannot always be measured objectively, but are rather left to the discretion of people, who have their subconscious scales. This goes so far that if the measured values do not correspond with the expectations, further measurements or no measurements at all are taken. This leads to the fact that rankings change as soon as the person making the assessment changes. For this reason, it has become common to say: Never trust any statistics that you have not faked yourself. For the top of the rating scale it is important that it is rarely used. The whole thing recalibrates itself from time to time by shifting these limits. Companies, departments, teams, and individuals have the task to be aware of their own scales again and again, so that everyone involved has a common understanding and that the best does not become a meaningless standard.

That’s all there is

On 24 December 1968, a photograph, taken by William Anders while orbiting the moon with Apollo 8, changed its global identity. Through this unusual change of perspective, mankind was suddenly presented of how finite our lifeworld is. At the same time, computers made it possible to carry out simulations that facilitated the anticipation of the development of the world. The study The Limits to Growth appeared in 1972 and predicted that the absolute limits of growth in terms of world population, industrialization, environmental pollution and food production would be reached by 2072. At the same time, the Gaia hypothesis emerged, which sees the Earth as a self-regulating organism that resists its destruction when necessary. Regardless of what idea we have, we should be aware that we are on the only planet we can reach. Everything that happens here always happens to everyone sooner or later.

Given this interconnectedness, it is difficult to understand why some people still think they are not affected by the fundamental developments.

  • Shared atmosphere
    Without this air cover that surrounds the earth, there would be no life on earth. The interaction of fauna and flora is crucial for the 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. Natural chemical and physiological processes maintain the vital balance. Some people seem to think that the borders of their country also apply to the airspace and that they are not part of the problem.
    The Earth, though, is a closed system in which, at first glance, problems are pushed from the left pocket into the right pocket – without realizing that you cannot get rid of the disadvantages.
  • Shared water
    We have 1.4 billion cubic kilometers of water on earth – 97% salt water, less than 1% of fresh water in the groundwater and thereof just three thousandth in surface water. Life on Gaia depends on fresh water. Polluting this resource hurts everyone, also those contaminating.
    To ensure that we will still have the quantities of fresh water we need tomorrow, we have to take care by ourselves, i.e. not to destroy this resource with nitrate from fertilizers, microplastics, oil, medicines and fracking for the benefit of a fistful of dollars.
  • Shared resources
    We are sitting on finite resources – coal, oil and gas, copper, lead, gold and rare-earth elements. Without these materials we cannot maintain our current standard of living – food and water supplies, energy, mobility, as well as information and communication. The related estimates are limited to the deposits known to us. These are sufficient between 30 and two hundred years. After that, game over.
  • Shared destiny
    The spaceship Earth is so large that it seems to us as if it were a flat disc. We are protected and kept alive by the atmosphere. Our vital supplies are what we produce on land and draw from the soil and the sea. That’s all there is. We consume more than twice as many raw materials nowadays, as we did fifty years ago. Every year, twelve million hectares of agricultural land gets lost through overgrazing, unsuitable cultivation methods, erosion as well as road and urban development. At the same time, the population will rise to nine billion people, who want to be supplied by 2050. Whatever happens on one side of the earth has an impact on the rest – without using the current, magic keyword.

Bottom line: The view of the rising earth has shown mankind how limited our scope of action is and will remain for a long time. There is only one atmosphere, shared water reservoirs and finite resources that make us ONE community of fate. Shifting resources from one side to the other harms the other side and adds nothing to the earth. Despite all the clues, influential people still haven’t understood the limits of growth, although they are also affected, because that’s all there is.

P.S.: At this point thanks to Greta.