Anyone who read Robert Pirsig’s best selling cult book (most likely in their younger years) ‘Zen and The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance’ and claimed they understood every word could most kindly be accused of being self-deluded.
It was possible however for us mere mortals to glean the essence of some very important concepts. One of these, which was the tension between an empirical approach to life and a more qualitative approach, resonates highly for people today across a range of sectors, not least for those working in local development.
Our work is now dominated by outputs, indicators, logic models, audits, accounting, etc.
This is not to deny the importance of numbers, accounting and systems. They provide necessary structure within which the core work can be carried out and they can also contribute to value for money and in the case of numerical reports for example inform future work.
The importance of finding the correct balance however was illustrated for me at the AGM last week of the company in which I work: