Monday, July 13, 2009

Different Definitions

There is a reason why many regulatory documents include definitions near the beginning.

Operate with different definitions of standards and compliance and you'll wind up with very different results.

Definitions are a form of navigation. Rush past them and you may find yourself on the way to the administrative equivalent of Turkey instead of Tahiti.

The need to define stems from the fact that we may ascribe widely varying meanings to the same terms. Consider how some organizations lump those who resigned and those who were fired under the label of "terminations." Similar confusion may arise when defining "applicant" or "test."

Years ago, when conducting investigations, I followed the Columbo approach of asking dumb questions and striving to get a verbal picture of what had taken place. What I learned was that the dumb questions were far from stupid because of the spins and assumptions that are so easily attached. When we conceive of items, we draw from our experience and that may lead us astray.

Mention a locker to one person and visions of high school may emerge while another may think of a gym. Still others may be picturing foot or tool lockers. A rose is not always a rose.

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