Crunchy work is hard because reality fights back. Squishy work is hard because people are complicated. The experience of doing each is more different than its practitioners tend to treat it as and this is important.
I’m so glad that you write, and that the internet exists so that I can be exposed to your thinking via your writing. I’ve adopted so many helpful ideas, frames and tools from you. Love this distinction, thanks for sharing 🙏🏽
You write "crunchy work seems to provide some satisfaction that I can’t get from purely squishy work - I’d been doing mostly consulting and coaching work for a few years at that point, and it was very much feeling like I was missing something major"
With crunchy work you achieve satisfaction from accomplishing some well-defined objective. The same satisfaction can be achieved from squishy work as well. Servers at mom and pop restaurants and bars do squishy work and yet can achieve real satisfaction in from their interactions with regulars who keep coming back because they like what you provide. Project managers do squishy work but achieve satisfaction when the projects are completed successfully. Caregivers can see the effects of their work on the response of their patients/clients to their care. Their lives are obviously better for them being there. What creates satisfaction is seeing positive results from your efforts. It can be hard to experience this in consulting/coaching. The issue is not crunchy vs squishy but identifiable benefits to people versus more amorphous effects.
Do you think balancing crunchy and squishy work is the key to finding that sweet spot of contentment? Rather than focusing on strengths in one or the other? Or is there another ingredient in the productivity recipe we're missing here?
Definitely late to the party, but your distinction between squishy and crunchy is insulting at worse and ignorance at best, I guess that your audience agrees with this distinction (illustrating the 'satisfying people' thinggy') but it does not make it right.
Maybe I misunderstood what was implied behind the 'satisfying people' thing though!
Psychology and other social sciences (history, sociology, philosophy etc) today follow a strict scientific protocol when compiling results and interpreting evidence. Here is a case of why these sciences are actually seeking for the truth and not here to please people :
In my History of PhD I did not write to satisfy people but to find out the truth on how which dynamics of power our early-modern governments were made of. I studied this through the lens of lordship, a land with political, economic and social rights that constituted a single unit of power at the time. To do that, I read and deciphered 3000 ancient documents. I then placed the most useful elements in a database (rights associated with the lordship) (social class of the lord or lady) (closeness to the central authorities, i.e. the king or queen and their government). The goal was to see how much my local lords, these single units of power, were actually involved in local and national politics.
If I wanted to 'satisfy' everyone, I would have assumed that these lords were crushed by the armies of the central authorities, just like we like to think about the modern state who then imposed a language, taxes, etc. However I found out that my lords were highly involved in local and national politics despite low noble status; that a tiny portion of lands could be full of very important rights (like to kill, for example). It is precisely because these lords found a way to obtain what they wanted from the central authorities that the crown was able to win wars and pursue national reforms. So, cooperation from low status noble was necessary to the growing of the state. This is a new paradigm and it does't help all the political contenders that ask for more power to centralized entities (like corporations). To thrive, you need to share power with people having a lower status than yours. Bummer.
Yes, not everyone follows the scientific protocol and their evidence might be ridiculous and not truth-seeking. Shocker : it also happens to 'hard sciences' such as mathematics and physics and economics if you look at the number of papers that claim their experiments to be replicable while they aren't.
I know this isn't your point, but someone with a STEM background believing in hyper-rationality sees his world-view confirmed that social sciences are just there to please people and follow agenda when he reads your post. And isn't the next step after truth-seeking to satisfy people via making humanity thrive, anyway? What is the point of getting a truth if you don't do anything useful for humanity afterwards? Just for the pleasure of truth? Truth is an element that is supposed to lead to thriving. Otherwise your impact is very low.
I guess I'm asking you to be careful, next time you make such a statement. If I dived that deep into explaining my PhD process, it is to show that social sciences are also truth-seekers, even more than 'hard sciences' since they're there for a purpose : understand humanity better and make it thrive.