The Socratic Method -- A Corporate Approach

A brief preface – The company I work for sends out a monthly newsletter in which each department is expected to write or find an article to contribute. The following was one of the articles posted recently…

Of course, I look at this article and scrutinize it immediately because of my utter distaste for corporate culture. Further, to me, this article seems like a blemish on the ass of the Socratic Method – a good example why Socrates’ methods and intentions may have been considered deceitful pertaining to dialectic. While most of the assertions made by the author seem typical, like his interpretation of the Socratic Method, I suppose he does have some valid points. Though, applying this method in the interest of material goals, while not a foreign concept to me, seems a tad askew. Did Socrates yearn to simply be heard, or did he speak in the interest of those who wanted to listen and expand their minds?

My initial reaction was in response to this piece specifically –

Seems to me the wisest among them would be the most tranquil. Not attempting to make an impression, not restless with boredom or discomfort – just gathering all of the information presented (both questions and answers), then formulating a conclusion. Neither in question (unless to avoid misunderstanding), nor in answer; but, rather, offering a cumulative perspective on the matter.

This next’n caught my eye too…

“Smart” questions often seem like a showcase for the ego, especially in a corporate setting. The smartest questions in a corporate context are not necessarily the ones that provoke thought, but those that become fodder for the conversation/presentation. Easily digested, yet with an outward appearance of deeper interest (ex. the question “What is our purpose?” – if I asked that at a company meeting, I would likely be reprimanded).

Anyway, enough from me. What I’m really interested in is how some of you thinkers interpret this article.

[Side Note - The author is apparently an award winning author, film-maker, and corporate guru, among other things. I’m fairly sure he is considered rather wise, but I’m interested to see what you think of his philosophical understanding…]

Guru sells conclusions. Socrates’ only knowledge was that he knew nothing. World of difference.

It seems like whenever corporations try utilizing philosophy or psychology in their business approach (especially in advertising) it never really works as intended. That’s not to say that I don’t admire their effort to take a more thoughtful approach towards matters, but the reality is that it just doesn’t seem to work.

That kind of advice has been around for some time, as far as I know. Sure, he can throw in a bunch of Socrates quotes, but it’s really just old predigested communication theory/psychology.

I wish I could go back in time and slap whoever invented the whole “motivational speaker, new age pseudophilosophy, advertising specialist” bullshit.
Like the whole “college degree” hysteria in the corporate world; “If they don’t have a college degree, don’t hire them”.
Well, if this society hadn’t drained its inhabitants of their intuitive thinking skills, employers should just be able to judge “whether or not they’ll be able to do the job” intuitively. But instead it has bitten the corporate world in the ass - they have loads of people working for them who have no clue what they were doing, “dad paid for my college, I’ve never actually worked a real job before” idiots.

So instead of realizing their error (that they had hired a bunch of idiots), they instead come up with the idea that their problems can be solved with focus group research, psychological generalizations, and “enhancing” advertisement tactics, to nullify the already non-existent consciousness of a society that has grown up spoon-fed by corporations to ultimately adopt materialism through power of suggestion.

Agreed in full.

In all reality, that degree - the piece of paper they stress so much - is essentially a certification in bullshit artistry. A majority seem to get through college without any real idea of what they’d like to do for a career, let alone a career that incorporates something they are genuinely interested in. So, college turns out to be a huge mass of people just trying to get through it, not stopping to pick up much on the way - only enough to pass the tests and get papers written. Then we find our first jobs out of college based on this piece of paper and we lie about our competencies to get a foot in the door, only to realize the theory we learn in college is far different than real-world application. So then, we begin actually learning via experience as we adjust to the job; often, and in my case, discovering that the experience becomes far more valuable in terms of advancement. All one really has to do after getting a degree is learn how to sell himself, which is pretty much what college trains you for. Accumulating and regurgitating information to get you by (in this case, through an interview process; and, in college, through tests and such).

Funny part is that the tactics in finding valuable employees are becoming increasingly ignorant. I can see it as I look around now, as I type this. People have become desperate in a suffering economic situation, so corporations have become desperate to keep up. The half-assed, totally impersonal methods of evaluating prospects, like those you mentioned above (focus groups, marketing, stereotyping), are now being trumped by extremely quick employee turn around on a massive scale. They hire the guy that smiles, nods, gives a firm handshake, and has that piece of paper; only to realize that he can barely operate a computer. So, they fire and re-hire on an absurd scale. Worse of all, in my opinion, is that employees that have fucking earned their positions through hustle, extensive experience, and even that degree are being “let go” on whims so that younger cats, straight out of college, can come attempt to do their job for half the salary.

Then the employer bitches about concepts like “productivity”, “quality”, and “wellness” decreasing because those values depreciate when combined with a fear of loosing job security. I’m not going to come in early, stay late, and give 100% if I don’t think anyone gives a shit, or I could be jobless tomorrow on a whim.

Don’t even get me started on the “team building” bullshit. That I may detest most. How can you preach unity among a group of people that have no loyalty? The executives will never be loyal to the workers that keep them in business (out of their own self-interest and vanity), and the workers will never want to be loyal to the executives they know are continually scheming behind their backs.