Since forever. Latin saying claims that words have an impact, but examples have the power. The biggest example for children are their older siblings and their parents. The examples for teenagers can be detected on posters that adorn their rooms, and later our example are usually successful people. We learn from our examples, compare ourselves to them, copy them and strive to outshine them.
The end of the year is usually the time when various professional associations and other organizations present their awards. Therefore, they set the examples for us. However, it often happens that the juries choosing the prize winners are totally incompetent. Either because they don’t come from a profession that is decided on, either because they have no (or very limited) practical experience, or because in the eyes of the professional public they are simply not up to their task and therefore have no true credibility.
In addition, the juries often include the organizer’s members which at the same time »compete« with their project, or it later turns out that the biggest sponsor of the event is the award winner, too. This absolutely doesn’t mean it is all about the trading under the table, but it is meaningful. More so if it happens often.
Most often, it happens that the jury rewards the projects with the biggest budget or the projects that are most likable while completely ignoring the criteria, which the individual works compete under. It also often happens that the award goes in the hands of a strong brand just because it is reputable and not because a particular work is representing certain surplus. Therefore, it’s about the argument of the power over the power of argument. A typical example of the latter are the companies and managers receiving prestigious titles, while a year later their companies bankrupt or end up in a compulsory settlement, resp. had been finally convicted on the basis of criminal offenses related to their work.
The lack of critical judgement in evaluation, and professional and clear argumentation of the selection are replaced with superlatives at the awards ceremony, but have no substance.
When presenting professional prizes abroad, we perceive the following practice: each applicant receives the evaluation document from the jury in which the candidates can see how well they did according to individual points that lead to the final decision. In Slovenia, something similar would verge on sacrilege. A general short explanation by the event host is sufficient.
The result of such developments is the disinterestedness of many to participate in a wide variety of competitions with their works. As a result, the competitions are unattractive, uncompetitive and poor. This is about the same as if 20 best skiers wouldn’t compete in slalom.
In all of this, the prizes are not important at all. Our good work is usually rewarded quite differently – with the satisfaction of our clients, tacit recognition from our colleagues coming from the same branch, etc. And these rewards mean so much more.
The essence of the problem is this being the way the content, scope and reach of the works exposed do not represent the best of the best, but such works are still set as a good example. An example of how to work and what to make as an example.
As individuals and as a society, we will make progress only and solely when we’ll learn from the excellent. Therefore, the juries, commissions and similar decision-makers should realize that their role is significantly more important than just presenting the »annual« award. Their role is to identify and deliver the arguments about the excellence that is set as an example and brings out only the best in us.
The article was published in the online edition of the journal of David, please find it here.