My Microsoft migration continues. Having replaced Explorer with Firefox, and Outlook with Gmail, I needed to find a replacement for Outlooks calendar. I struck upon Franklin Coveys PlanPlus for Windows XP.
Very useful, it is, too. But what struck me was the design.
First, the splash page of the program, the one that loads each morning, shows an African American male who appears to be about 35 years old (as above).
Typically, “diversity as a cultural agenda encourages commercial players to show, say, four people in an ad or package, one of whom is African American. This is one of the communications clichés of our age and in a hundred years they will smirk at us for it. I dont mean that its not a good idea, just that it is by this time a somewhat labored one. There are, to be sure, one or two cases in which an African American appears alone, and in this case, it is almost always an African American woman. I dont think I have ever seen a corporation use an African American man alone.
The Franklin Covey image changes things quite substantially. This African American model does not stand for all African American consumers. He stands for all consumers, plain and simple. He stands for us all. The splash page dares to show our collective face as an African American one. Splendid. At a stroke (splash?), Franklin Covey has replaced a patronizing strategy of representation with something like real inclusion, a consumer society so integrated that any part of the whole can stand for the whole of the whole, as it were. Of course, we are not yet completely integrated, but I think this is one of the ways societies can work our way in that direction. Splendid, splendid, splendid.
But the theme of diversity shows up elsewhere in the software. When you evoke the “big compass aspect of the program, you are invited to specify your most important life objectives according a variety of roles. I remember looking in on PlanPlus software about 5 years ago, and I dont remember seeing reference to “role. If it is new, it means that Franklin Covey has moved to embrace a second notion of diversity, what we might call the diversity within.
I believe that “diversity within” is one of the big cultural issues of our day. We are all of us much more diverse as individuals; we construct and occupy more deeply diversified portfolios of self. This aspect of diversity has been relatively obscured by the notion of diversity as racial, gender, sexual inclusiveness, by “diversity without.” Mores the pity. “Diversity without” is a pressing issue, but “diversity within” will be the deeper, more lasting, more important development in our culture.
Anyhow, we find Franklin Covey rising even to this occasion. It is perhaps well known that Franklin Covey has roots in the community of the Latter Day Saints. It is perhaps less well know that some members of this community have been unhappy that the Franklin Covey software sometimes leans away from church teachings in the direction of a new age view of the world. And so we may take it for granted that the Franklin Covey decision makers had to take their courage in both hands to incorporate “roles as part of the software.
So its courage on both counts. Franklin Covey gives us diversity without and diversity within. In the case of the former, they risk their enterprise to achieve a larger social good. In the case of the latter, they advance enterprise by speaking to new realities.
Capitalism, its just the strangest, most interesting thing.