Too Many Criteria?

This may come across as something of a rant, who knows, let’s see how it develops.

I believe that there is an over obsession with criteria these days. There are criteria for this, criteria for that, criteria for romantic partnerships, criteria for houses, criteria for school syllabuses, criteria for which is the best coffee shop, criteria for the best mobile ‘phone and there are even criteria of criteria. Now if you read this blog you will know by now that I am not a fan of league tables. They too are used as criteria. I have in the past been asked by people about choice of university and if people should rely on criteria, I say no. Go to the university, see how it feels and imagine yourself there one cold February morning, skint and with a hangover. Does it still work for you? The differential in quality of education may not vary as much as the purveyors of league tables might have us believe.

Criteria are causal of forms, either on-line forms or in rare instances, paper ones. Forms do not encompass and on the basis of data input to forms decisions are made sometimes in refence to a criteria grid. Why all these criteria? Well it is because people have to defend and justify their decisions. This suggests that people don’t like to decide for themselves and have to have pre-determined guidance on how to make decisions. It is all very fixed and rigid.

For me personally if I am exploring something and find that a form or a pro-forma needs filling in, in >90% of the cases, I just bin it and move onto something else. There is a whole section of the workforce whose job it is to look at forms and compare them to some criteria grid to decide if something advances or not. There is one up-side to criteria, it puts food on the table in some houses. Now my dislike of forms need not concern overmuch, I am just one individual. There may be a whole swathe of people out there who share my dislike of forms. Who can tell? Because even if there was a form designed to test this, they would not fill it in. Such a magnificent survey would not sample the very thing it was developed to sample. Nowadays there is a tendency for people to ask for feedback on just about everything. One of the favourite questions is; “would you recommend X to a friend?” I have to be honest, the answer is always no. Not because the service or whatever is shit but because I am socially isolated and introverted. Sometime there is a little box for an explanation, and I say this in these. I say that I am Billy-no-mates, so I tend not to chat about this kind of stuff. Now we get products advertised which say 70% of 102 people would recommend X. It is daft, stupid, and misleading.

But we tend to rely on these fatuous surveys and dodgy criteria.

If you are seeking funding, there are vast forms that need filled in. This is a part of the employment initiative previously mentioned. Someone has to design these forms, code them up, run a beta and then launch. Someone else has extract the data and make some groovy graphs.

There are innumerable armies of gate-keepers who rely on criteria. These are an impediment in many cases. First you have to convince the gatekeeper on the moat, then the gatekeeper at the door to the castle, then the gatekeeper at the inner wall, next the gatekeeper at the keep and then the bouncer on the door into the main hall. So, in addition to the form and criteria employment initiative there is a whole new industry sector of gate keepers.

The thing about criteria is that they can stop exploration. I only want to learn that which rigorously meets the pre-set criteria and exactly so. This is my criterion for learning. I need to know what that learning will guarantee in terms of outcomes before I engage.

Do you get my drift?

Anyway, here are some questions:

How keen am I as an individual on criteria?

What are the criteria for my keenness?

Have I ever lost out on something because of my criteria fixation?