I just read a fascinating article by Ed Smith called "Are We Too Professional?" which, although it is ostensibly about cricket, covers too many interesting topics to disect here. But it did prompt a couple of observations.

One is that he is bang on the money and that some of the best performances - at work, play or scientific endeavour - come from those who don't always follow the proscribed practices. But this then lead me on to the thought that professionalism, especially in the contexts that Ed quotes it in the article, is often just used as an excuse to implement restrictions on people who are perfectly capable of thinking for themselves and shouldn't need them. But for whatever reason those in authority don't trust and think that without these controls there will be chaos. This is illustrated by the example he quotes of teachers having to plan their lessons in 3 minute chunks. Some of my favourite teachers at school often couldn't plan how to get to their classrooms from the staff room, heaven help them if they had had to go into this level of lesson planning.

The other observation is that, as with many other things, the devil is in the details. Professionalism itself isn't a bad thing, as long as you don't confuse it with being good at what you are supposed to be achieving. Sure, having a "mission statement" can be a bad thing. Especially if it is as bad as -

"ICI’s vision is to be the leader in creating value for customers and shareholders through market leadership, technological edge and a world competitive cost base."

After reading that I still don't know what it is that they do. What is wrong there is not trying to define the purpose of the organisation, it's how they have gone about doing it. Maybe they should have gone for "Be the best chemical producer in the world". Just a thought.

Anyway, enough of my rambling, go and read the article.