Problem Finding/reassessing comparisons
—Compared to what?
We often want to become smarter, richer, braver, bolder, thinner, fitter, healthier, cooler, sexier, or funnier. Pause to ask “-er than what?” Carefully choose the standard or reference model used as basis for comparison. Before investing in such a goal, it is useful to ask, “Compared to what?”
There are many possible reference models we can chose as a basis for comparison or goal setting. A list is provided below. In any case it can be helpful to ask:
- What standard or reference model was chosen?
- How was that selected?
- Why is that a pertinent reference standard?
- What other standards were considered?
- Why choose this reference model?
- How much -er will be enough?
Candidate Reference Models
- Historic performance,
- Peer, exemplar, or benchmark performance,
- Planning goals, stretch goals, aspirations, forecasts,
- Externally originating requests or imposed goals,
- Improvement goals,
- (Industry) standards, regulations, contracts, agreements, legal requirements,
- Imposed by use of power (the boss wants this),
- Following orders, respect for authority, demonstrating loyalty,
- Pleasing others, social or cultural norms, tradition, habit, fitting in, impressing others, prestige,
- Should (What standard is implied? Whose standard is implied?),
- Keeping promises, meeting obligations, meeting expectations (whose?),
- Scientific models, reality, scientific findings,
- Ideological models, dogma,
- Worldviews, values (purity, patriotism, honesty, personal responsibility, piety…),
- Beliefs, Misconceptions,
- Moral reasoning,
- Revenge, justice, fairness, caring, regret, shame, guilt,
- Prevention, repair, remediation, reparations,
- Hopes, dreams, aspirations, and fantasies,
- Stories, the dominant narrative,
- Survival constraints,
- Deception, chicanery,
- Demonstrating team loyalty,
- Comfort, convenience, stasis, egocentrism, pride, fear, hate, spite,