We often hear of Apple or Steve Jobs as having "a philosophy". But how often do we hear the same of Microsoft, or HP? Or even IBM? Yet I'll hold that they are there.
Most people if you ask what is their philosophy will look at you quizzically. Many will even laugh at you for asking something so silly or strange. But they all have one.
Sure, some people are more deliberate about it than others. Some people, and some companies put large amounts of thought and spiritual energy into having a philosophy, and exactly what it is. And some leave it on the back burner and forget about it.
You ask Joe Blow: "So, what is the philosophy behind your company?" He says: "Well, to make some money. Duh." And that may truly be all that there is to it. But even that is a philosophy. Even though he will have forgotten it by now, at some point in his life he made a real and very conscious decision that making money was more important to his job/firm than any number of other concerns. I stress, at some point it was a very deliberate thought. It then later became something he just took for granted.
And even more, most people, if you really grill them about it, actually have something they care about even more, when the bills are paid. One person may simply really like to deal with people. So he is a salesman. One guy may wish to have something real in the universe he can say is his, something that he created. So he has built up a company with 100 people. One person likes to make things work better. So she is an engineer.
The difference between the "philosophical" person (Steve Jobs) and the ordinary guy (the CEO of Dell, whazzisname), is that the former does not forget about the things on the back burner. He takes them forth once in a while and evaluates them. He looks at it and asks: Is this really what I want? Can I do better? What is the real purpose of this?
He always strives to improve his philosophy and his purposes. To stretch them as far into the future as he can, to make them as workable as he can. To put his power where it counts the most.
And here is the kicker: This is you. Most of you will say, "I am no Steve Jobs. I am just an ordinary guy, trying to survive in this crazy world."
Let me go British for a second here, and say: Bollocks. You are exactly who you want to be, and as big as you want to be. And it is all coming from what philosophy you decide to live by.
And that philosophy is an ongoing thing. It is never finished and done. If for no other reason, then because the world and the universe is always changing around us, and if you don't take your ideas and purposes up to revision once in a while, they will get stale and unworkable.
The good news is that it gets easier as you get used to it, and nothing is so satisfactory as knowing you made a good decision.
is a contributing editor to the Mac Observer, specializing in cultural matters, and comes to us by way of MacCreator. Comments invited.
The title of this column, "Fuzzy Logic", refers to an attempt to view the larger issues without getting lost in the details. Sort of "squinting" at things:) Of course it is also the term for an attempt in computing to get computers to look at the world like it is, in a spectrum of grays, instead of 1 and 0, or Black and White.