Monthly Archives: October 2008

Quantitative Assessment of Qualitative Problems

As we apply qualitative assessments in our descriptions of our roles in relationships and organizations, how much do we know about where those categories we apply stem from? What brings definitions of good and bad or efficient and unefficient into being? In an organization that tries to survive in the marketplace, the answer is likely quantitative. Concrete numbers will work as measures that can be tested against goals, and the evaluation of a situation will often use actual measurements to gain a qualitative outcome.

But what if the goals are not so easily identifiable as mere numeric values? What if they are of qualitative nature themselves? And, couldn’t we also identify a qualitative goal behind every desired quantitative outcome? Maybe it could be helpful to try to actually count situations that seem to lead towards a certain goal – qualitative or quantitative as it may be – and from there derive a strictly qualitative assessment of the general proposition towards this outcome. In a way, the counting of micro-situations could lead to a grounded assessment of the macro-situation with regard to a certain direction in which it is desired to develop.

This brings up questions about how we want to deal with those numbers. Where do the values we use as thresholds to gain qualitative statements (such as good or bad) come from? Are we at the beginning of the loop again? Quite the opposite, I would assert, as we now have gained access to a valuation order on another level, a level we would normally not be able to observe. And that is a qualitative value in itself.