Feedback Thomas Sowell Style

Thomas Sowell explores a similar thread as Walter Williams yesterday, in his column The Fallacy of “Fairness”: Part III.  Key lines:

Tests and other criteria which convey the realities of their existing capabilities, compared to that of others, can have what is called a “disparate impact,” and are condemned not only in editorial offices but also in courts of law.

But criteria exist precisely to have a disparate impact on those who do not have what these criteria exist to measure. Track meets discriminate against those who are slow afoot. Tests in school discriminate against students who did not study.

Disregarding criteria in the interest of “fairness”– in the sense of outcomes independent of inputs– adds to the handicaps of those who already have other handicaps, by lying to them about the reasons for their situation and the things they need to do to make their situation better.

I’ll repeat that last part, ” adds to the handicaps of those who already have other handicaps, by lying to them about the reasons for their situation and the things they need to do to make their situation better.”

That reminds me of something written by two well respected business leaders – Jack Welch formerly of GE and Howard Schulz, founder of Starbucks.  Both wrote about their thoughts on removing people from jobs that they weren’t very good at it.  Of course, they did this for business reasons, to improve the business.

But, both made an excellent point.  They felt keeping and under performer in a position was more disrespectful to the person than trying to shield them from the truth and may eventually lead to a much colder, harder lesson for those people.

A great example of this are the awful singers who audition for American Idol and are devastated when they hear the judges  tell them the truth.  It should not get to the point where someone who doesn’t remotely have singing talent make it in front of the American Idol judges.

Honest and accurate feedback was either never given to these people or never received.

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