Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tension between Idealism and Pragmatism

My Extreme MBA. (A Conversation with Rory Stewart)
By: McCreary, Lew,
Harvard Business Review,
Octoer 2007, Vol. 85, Issue 10

Tension between idealism and pragmatism.

That is why I find Machiavelli so useful. He is not simply an evil cynic, as he is sometimes portrayed. He genuinely does believe in the virtue of the prince, the virtue of republics, and the power to do good. What he's doing, perpetually, is trying to make people realize how messy and difficult the business of governing is. Some of his simplest insights are so interesting.

One that I particularly like--and which applies well to what we encountered in Iraq--is that those who persist in trying to do what they think they ought to do, instead of what they can, will undermine their power rather than sustain it.

In much the same vein he also advises to work out whether something's achievable. If it is, do it at once; if it isn't, don't even attempt it.

Rory Stewart, CEO of the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, an NGO in Kabul devoted to preserving the city's historic commercial district and teaching old craft skills to young Afghans.

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