Why do we have a higher standard for things than we do for ideas?

I’m involved with a group of Young Professionals in my town, and once a month we all watch a Ted talk and then meet for lunch to discuss it.

This month’s was The Way We Think About Work is Broken by Barry Schwartz.

Points I found most intriguing:

“Bad technology disappears. [But] with ideas, false ideas about human beings will not go away if people believe that they’re true.” This implies that we have a higher standard for things than we do for ideas. We care about having the best and optimally-functioning cell phone, yet we don’t really care if there’s any science behind that detox tea we keep drinking.

We have much less attachment to things than we do to ideas. There is a quick turnover with things, but a slow turnover with ideas. We’re quick to exchange our laptop for the newer model. But we maintain ideas for generations and are often hesitant to stray from them and our identity with them.

“It is not true that you “just can’t get good help anymore”. It is true that you can’t get good help anymore when you give people work to do that is demeaning and soulless.”

“Human nature will be changed by the theories we have that are designed to explain and help us understand human beings … We design human nature by designing the institutions within which people live and work.” So, what kind of human nature do you want to help design? Note that this can apply outside the workplace as well.

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