Or you can also say: Taking human beings seriously. To Immanuel Kant we owe the great insight that ‘Out of the crooked timber of humanity nothing straight was ever made’. Rigor is important, so are research, getting the right numbers and doing good analytical work. But those things are but a start. For when you are dealing with human beings- either alone or in groups or as vast multitudes- numbers will only take you so far. Technical analysis will only take you so far. And this is for the simple reasons that human beings are not numbers. They are not machines. And to the extent that efforts to improve governance systems around the world have to do with human beings then technical work alone won’t do the job. You have to build support, take on determined vested interests, and inspire efforts for change, overcome inertia, cynicism and despair. And all that is just for starters. These are the things that the so-called soft skills worry about and seek to deal with. The irony of ironies is that you will not achieve concrete results without tackling these challenges successfully. Or, to stick to our metaphors: without the soft you won’t secure the hard…as in real and sustainable results in the real world.
(Photo Credit: Arne Hoel)