Friday, 30 November 2007

Are The Dynamics for Gillian Gibbons Spiralling Out Of Control?

Need we see or hear any more? It is quite clear that for Gillian Gibbons the belief system of a significant number of Sudanese people can in no way be described as 'forgiving'. To say that we are witnessing a clash of opinion is an obvious understatement. Whilst we may exist in on the same planet and in the same time we live in two entirely separate worlds.

The concept of Spiral Dynamics offers an explanation of why I feel bemused and despairing of this 'unforgiving mind-set'. If you check out the link you will see that people and groups have their world views explained as a value meme These vMEMEs are what we use to 'make sense' of our world and to 'select our our solutions to the social challenges we face'. As we grow we transcend and include the early developmental memes. In summary these are:

Beige - animalistic survival

Purple - myth and magic

Red - express myself at all costs

Blue - Ritual order and fundamental rules. Belief in the metaphysical

Orange - Exploit and manage resources. Rational & Scientific

Green - community matters, everyone has a right. Relativism.

Yellow - systems, ambiguity and complexity are normal.

Turquoise - holons and harmonics

With the Gillian Gibbons situation we are witnessing a dysfunctional variant of the Blue vMEME in Sudan. Simplistic fundamentalism which believes that there is 'right' which is 'our belief' and 'wrong ' which is 'your belief', is a strong blue meme and is tinged with the pre-ceeding red and purple vMEMES which explains the rampant hostility and simplistic association of religious conviction with a cuddly toy.

Thousands of people baying for the death of another human being whose aim in life was simply to help others is utterly reprehensible and hopefully the individuals concerned will live long to evolve to a higher state of consciousness.

They are, of course, welcome to their 'model' of the world - and so why don't they just stop the proselytising and making selective use of the social benefits of the western world they so obviously dislike?

They could simply hand in their medicines, educational advances, vehicles, guns, TVs, radios, mobile phones, entertainment systems and so on to their nearest warehouse and get on with enjoying the aggressive, bullying medieval world they want around themselves.

This post is certainly not a denegration of the Blue vMEME, as we all have this within us, and the other vMEMEs too. What concerns me is its extreme manifestation. This week, for example, I attended the funeral of a young friend of mine who died suddenly and tragically. I attended the service complete with its metaphsyical aspects and its ritual, and I drew upon these things to help me at the time. It's not Blue per se I am troubled by.

Does rigid/dark Blue bother me? Yes it does, because it seems to offer absolutely no glint of compassion, understanding, forgiveness, reconciliation, humanity, prospect for change, or acceptance of other views. If we were describing someone we knew of in these terms what single word would come to mind to describe them I wonder?

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Gullible Designers and Gullible Customers

I don't know who is more gullible, the designers or the purchasers. Check out this fascinating list of The Top Ten Terrible Tech Products Innovating is of course a good thing, but which Muppet allowed these products to pass through the concept and market testing phases of the NPD process?

Most technically led businesses think that business is all about 'make' and 'sell' and overlook the risk reduction processes that can save huge personal, brand, and financial embarrassment.

As for customers, well...don't you ever check before you buy? being an early adopter means what you gain in ego you can loose in the wallet, by paying the Skimming Price and the wasted purchase cost. Usually its the middle men who lack either technical or marketing literacy and rely on hype to shift products. These guys should move into the boomerang business as the crap is bound to return in some form. Remember - putting lipstick on a pig is only evidence of Gullibility.

Monday, 26 November 2007

3 Ingredients. The Recipe for English Soccer Success

I say don't have a 'system' at all.

The players have three assets a) knowledge of the rules of the game, b) knowledge of the opposition c) their experience. They should use these in a dynamic, flexible manner in the context of the match as it unfolds.

There are some deep seated and taken for granted managerial assumptions that determine current approaches to soccer management that are mainly founded on 'modernist' /rational scientific beliefs. These assumptions are so taken for granted that they go largely un-recognised by the people that have them.

These beliefs pre-dispose people to think in terms of systems for the prediction and control of future outcomes. i.e. predicting and controlling the outcome of the match. This is clear evidence of people being deluded by the illusion of control and the expectation that they can control a complex and chaotic a social phenomenon such as a soccer match.

If it is accepted that sometimes we all have problems understanding and predicting the future behaviour of friends, relatives, and co-workers, and we realise that controlling future outcomes in nigh on short of impossible short of physical coercion. Why then do we continue to expect that soccer management is exempt in some way? If somebody we knew kept sticking their hand in a fire after they got burned, wouldn't we question their mental faculties? The cynic in me says perhaps nobody wants to really 'solve' the problem, because this would de-mystify the profession, and remove the self-fulfilling need for the post match pundit and the media agonising that we so seem to enjoy.

The players have a simple objective to score more goals than the opposition. Managerial job done.

Finally, I wonder, does the fact that the CEO of the FA has simply a degree in Economics suggest anything about his likely managerial assumptions?

Sunday, 25 November 2007

How Gullible is the English Football Association?

photo Brian Barwick Chief Executive of the English FA November 2007

In order for organisations to adapt and change they need to flexible and open systems. There seems to be some indication that the English FA is incapable of re-shaping itself to suit expectations and circumstances.

A couple of notions that might throw some light on why this might be the case can be found with the Law of Requisite Variety and the idea of vMEMES from the Spiral Dynamics approach to Leadership and Change.

It seems to me that the organisation of English Football represents a classic case of 'recruiting in ones own likeness' The ideal role and the ideal person are assumed to be a particular and familiar type and that unless someone fits the type they are not on the radar. The problem with that is that you end up with what I call French Teacher syndrome. This is where French Teachers teach French to students who learn French to become Teachers of French who...etc etc. Any organisation will stagnate if its thinking becomes homogenous and there is not sufficient redundancy (sorry Mr McClaren I'm talking about a different of redundancy here) in the system to allow for adaptation. What hope does the organisation have if it is locked in a highly modernist mind-set?

A key notion of the Spiral Dynamics approach is that the vMEME (value meme) we possess both determines how we make sense of the world and determines the solutions we believe are appropriate for challenges and problems we face. Each vMEME is colour coded and symbolises a particular world view. In the case of the FA it seems that it is what Beck and Cowan call a first tier combination of red,BLUE,orange vMEMES. With Blue being the dominant meme. This memetic view celebrates hierarchy, rules, order, and codices and seeks to implement 'systems' and ranks that manage the 'good' and the 'bad'. Just take a look at their their website through the eyes of Spiral Dynamics and you'll see what I mean. Sections of Structure, sections of Organisation etc etc loom large.

So what would I do you ask? Well I would seek out some second tier yellow vMEME thinking. Then I would make sure that the managing agenda was about developing thinking skills. This would transcend and include the obsession with technical and systems skills.

Crucially I would give the players total responsibility for the competitive shape of the team not just the responsibility for enacting the tactics on the day. At the moment they have a 'get-out' in that they are excused responsibility for the tactical assessment and countering of the competition. Talented musicians operate beyond the technical; our footballers should be allowed to do the same. The Coach should become a facilitator of the teams competitive sense-making, and the support resources to enable them to do their job. Yellow vMeme thinking would also avoid being gullible and having misplaced expectations on managerialist tools to deliver results. Flex and Flow would become the dominant conversation in the locker room, NOT the mechanised and bureaucratised, talk of marking zones, channels, systems, and units. Significantly a move to second tier thinking would see a breaking free from the obsession with details and the belief that the more senior the game the more complex the game becomes, through to the 'simplicity beyond the complexity'. In other words re-discovering that the game is simply about scoring more goals than the opposition.

Essentially I would facilitate a move beyond the dominant BLUE mindset that encourages and in its darker form demands undue deference to authority and tool the players up to articulate against the failings of prevailing management mind-set. Competence should take precedence over Position.

Friday, 23 November 2007

England's Gullibility

Photo credit BBC - Steven Gerrard picks up the whiff of decay from the dead body of management capability in the English Football Association

Am I missing something? I've looked out of the office window and life seems to be going as normal here in Olde Englande, even though David Beckham claims that England is in mourning Maybe I've got it wrong and he was referring to mourning the death of English soccer management capability.

Beckham's claim is surely the perfect example of what is wrong with the principles that drive the world-views and management of the National (should that be Notional?, or even No Show Null!)game. Yes, we lost a match and yes, it's not nice to fail to qualify for a major competition, however Mr Perspective's claim hints as something far more profound.

Self-absorbed, self-referencing. A Sport that is 'managerialised' by managers who lack deep management capability. A sport that has been 'rationalised' into techniques,systems and accompanying jargon. A Sport that is deluded in it's belief that the outcomes of a chaotic and complex process can be controlled and conditioned. Rational, Logical, Scientific, and guess what in a supreme irony of method...the empirical evidence shows it hasn't worked!!

Alan Hanson said something profound as a throw away line on Wednesday's post game dissection and that was "England and McClaren were out-thought". How right he was, and how even more right if this applies to beyond mere match tactics. Gullible people reside in a world of so called 'single loop thinking' where they can only understand the problems they have, and the solutions they believe are possible, within the limits of their thinking and the 'system' as they see it.

Double Loop Thinkers step outside and see problems and solutions in a new light. The FA would be gullible not to!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

10 Ways to Keep an Open Mind

The previous post got me thinking about how we humans seem to love having lists of instructions to guide the 'dos' and 'don'ts' in our lives. One of biggies of course is (are?) the Ten Commandments

Naturally I related to number one in this alternative version

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Don't Be Gullible

Surjit, author of Gurushabad seems to be offering some helpful life tips in this recent post.

However he might be underestimating the sub-conscious impact of his list of suggestions. As an example, just pay attention to your instant reaction to the following statements:

Don't believe Ron Paul

Don't criticise Britney Spears

Don't buy an i-phone

You may have noticed something deep seated within us that rails against authority (our critical voice if you like) Kevin Hogan describes the effect of such statements in Covert Hypnosis where he claims that we sub-sconsciously delete the 'don't' element of the instruction and take it as an instruction to do exactly the opposite of the intended advice!

And all because we have heard the 'don't' instruction since our early childhood.

So, remember...don't come back late, don't leave your shoes in the hall, don't use bad language, don't answer me back, don't leave food on your plate, don't leave the light on, don't cry its only a scratch, don't see the boy from the other street, don't drive fast, don't dis-respect your elders, don't eat burgers, don't waste your here's a strange thing..........don't don't

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Sneeme - Bless You! What A Great Idea!

image credit

This has to be the ultimate expression of self pity going! The argument goes that men exaggerate the suffering they experience when they get a Cold.

Well, what better to garner a bit of tea and sympathy than to tell everyone on the world wide web that yes! RR has gone and picked up a cold.

Now, I only wish that my posts were as contagious as the 'snuffle' I've just acquired, (and you'd better believe it that no one ever has had a cold as bad as this one;)

Just imagine...posts that were simply 'sneezed' across the blogosphere. What Technorati YUK ranking would you get? Forget Memes, try Sneemes for the ultimate in social connectivity!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

When Will I, Will I, Be Famous?

In the words of the Bros song, I've had my Gullibometer out to test the present 'State of The Union' in my blog world.

A particular post Self Promotion -When Blogs Go Bad got me thinking along these lines and I commented:

"This is a really fascinating post, and captures a significant theme that seems to be emerging about the nature of 'blogging', social media and social influence. There seems to be a split developing between those who are 'into' blogging, and those that are 'about' blogging.

I have found the blogging experience to be a mix of 'intrigue', high expectations and utter banality (especially in the areas you describe) of either claims to 'WOW' insights, 'WOW' money making schemes, 'WOW' products, and 'WOW' blogging tips. Even the stuff I post sometimes leaves me having an inner voice saying 'so what!'...and I wonder if it's the realisation that we ain't as clever interesting, knowledgeable, funny, or smart as we probably first thought that opens a very personal window onto ourselves. That is one of the key things I feel I have learned from participating in the blog phenomenon.

As a form of social interaction it is very much in it's infancy and I'm sure many
of us will revisit it over time and come to new ways of making sense of it as we go."

The spirit of this idea is wonderfully captured by T.S.Elliot in his poem Little Gidding

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Is Using Big Words Taking Advantage of the Gullible?

As you might know from reading my posts, one of the things I believe to be important for the avoidance of gullibility (note small 'g' otherwise you won't come back!) is the idea that we could all do well by sprucing up and maintaining our 'critical thinking' skills.

In particular I have urged caution about taking things for granted and trying to identify the message in the message of any communication. So, as you know anybody that parades large words and jargon in a deliberate attempt to show off their knowledge or to 'close someone out' of the conversation should be treated with the utmost skepticism.

So...when I did this blog readability test I was surprised at it's assessment of the reading level needed to make sense of what I was writing. The widget says you are at Genius level if you read Gullibility - WOW!. Just a note, I would have posted the icon but it comes with an un-announced advertising link. The other thing that comes to mind is whether that means the Gullibility readership are Genii or Geniuses...but what the heck, being a Genius you'll know anyway!

More worrying was the fact that I've probably put some readers off. On the other hand I might be targeting my audience very accurately! I guess if I were a expert blogger and I covered basic SEO for example I wouldn't be appealing to the more experienced bloggers out there.

For those of you still with me...I suppose we can bask in the glory that somebody out there judges us to be smart! for believing that to be that's another matter!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

This Paradigm is no has ceased to be...

Many of us will be familiar with the Monty Python sketch about the dead parrot

You will have no doubt also used the word paradigm on several occasions in every day affairs...'the price of petrol has gone past £1 a litre - now that's a paradigm shift'. Quite often we use the term to mean our awareness of some new information.

The guy most associated with the term is Thomas Kuhn who wrote about the notion in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which was an explanation of how science progresses. His explanation that advances occur due to 'mind-set' changes of groups of scientists was a counter explanation to that put forward by Karl Popper (bloody hell I nearly wrote Pooper there)who explained scientific advances as a continual process of testing and rejecting of hypotheses. This resulted in a big row amongst philosophical types in the 1960s and they're still at it.

Paradigm (probably because it is an impressive word to dropped out in a night club) has massive memetic properties, and in fact you could say a Paradigm is a Meta-Meme, a big idea that catches on... It is also a word that is used in error.

Kuhn suggested that Paradigms are 'total re-thinks of your world view' not just a different way of the doing the same thing. So much so that people who hold the prevailing paradigm simply can't let go of it because for them 'this is how the world is'... and anyone who thinks diffrently is an ass. It takes a heretic to start a new paradigm e.g. The Earth is the centre of the its not the Earth goes around the Sun, and even the Solar System is on the edge of one of many many galaxies.

And so, this is where I have problem with Professor Artur Ekert who commented in Future Directions of Computing that computer processing by "by caged atoms known as quantum bits or Qubits... is a new paradigm for computation," might be a new method, but it can't be a new paradigm because it isn't altering the fundamental way that information is processed. i.e. 1+0+101+1011 is an arithmetic constant, even though the properties might change (as far as we know)

If there was something other than addition, subtraction, division and multiplication for the management of number then that would require a paradigm shift!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Peer Approval - Simply The Best!

Thanks a million to the illustrious Saboma the inventive creator of the superb maryannaville and this unexpected award.

Check and blogroll for a continual stream of thought provoking, whacky and mindful stuff from one of the best. Make sure you think about circular reasoning after you visit.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Meddling Council of Great Britain?

The head of the Muslim Council of Great Britain Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari looks like he is making some interesting claims in a Daily Telegraph interview that are summarised by the BBC website today.

Making a very valid point about the demonising of the Jews in Nazi Germany, he infers through this example that a similar thing is happening in the UK! How conveniently he overlooks the demonising of British society by voices from within his own faith community continually suggesting that overall British Society is decadent, and lacking in moral and spiritual guidance. Where is the evidence for such a sweeping generalisation?

To believe that you are claiming some sort of morally privileged position Dr M is complete bollockology, and you are undermining the credibility of your Doctoral qualification by demonstrating a clear lack of critical thinking. Do you sincerely believe that the general British public are that gullible!

Casting a critical eye over the summary claims reported by the BBC, the following things seem interesting:

Can you explain why you feel The British who actually fought and died ending NAZI tyranny need reminding of the onerous and dangerous implications of persecuting minorities? Please post a letter in the Times indicating which members of your family took part in the defeat of Hitler and his cronies Dr M., and which contributions to British society entitle you to claim '...of Great Britain' in your organisations' title? 'in Great Britain' might be more appropriate.

Please indicate examples of systemic and government endorsed savagery against your faith community? I notice no restrictions or laws on individual movement, business ownership, faith practice, access to education and so on! So why are you demonising the very society that sustains you? You might like to study Eric Fromm's psycho-analysis of Adolf Hitler where he describes his self-destructive narcissistic personality tendancies, in which Fromm suggests that this personality type pursues the very destruction of the things that sustain them Ring any bells Dr M?

Why do you presume that your faith community is the only community concerned with the reckless and bad behaviour of British youth? For goodness sake this is nothing new, and even writers in ancient Rome wrote about how 'terrible is the youth of today' You are not pointing out something that hasn't been noticed the rest of us!

Why do you feel that what is a 'norm' from your perspective, is desirable from someone else's perspective. You declare your authoritarian principles in these statements, can you justify your claims to authority. (Maybe you have a high Technorati ranking?)

Can you explain or demonstrate any correlation between sexual crime and sales of bikinis since their inception in the 1950s. Have you considered or even admitted the impact that your evidently repressed sexuality might have on your world view and how you act in the world? What negative consequences do you think this might have for you and others?

Dr M, you are making some sweeping generalisations and cultural oversights. You are underestimating the existence of the deeply embedded cultural principles held by the majority of Briton's for justice, fair play and moral rectitude. You underestimate the general knowledge and sense of history of many in this country. You seem to be presuming that general British society should be deferential to your qualification and must therefore accept your point of view unquestioningly and gratefully because you are SO clever. Please be aware that you are not speaking to your usual audience of partially educated, unduly deferential, critically prohibited individuals with their quasi- medieval mindset.

Stop mischief making and start making a positive contribution to society!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Borrowing Money? Do it Sensibly Don't be Gullible

One of the great things about a loan is that it allows you to have today what you would normally have to wait for. Imagine...that new car, that new kitchen, that new home extension. It's only natural to want things that make us feel happier. As you will know of course, a loan is a loan, and not a free gift. That's why it should be seen as a financial strategy rather than a gift or a social service. This means understanding what you can afford rather than focussing entirely on what you want. That way you wont fall into the trap of negative cash flow. Undertaking a loan should be seen as entering into a business agreement that offers a benefical cash flow. A cash flow that you pay for nonetheless. So, just like any business partnership you should check out the offers and negotiate the deal that suits you the best such as checking out...

unsecured loans

home owner loans

Loan Borrow sensibly to get what you need and make sure you don't go into un-manageable debt

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Check the Job Specification George

So President Bush has phoned up Musharraf and told him that he can't be President and head of the armed forces at the same time. OOPS!

Check out the job specification US President Mr Bush didn't you know that the president is at the head of the executive branch of the federal government, whose role is to enforce national law as given in the Constitution and written by Congress. Article Two of the Constitution establishes the president as commander-in-chief of the armed forces

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Tulips from Pakistan

Whose truth will prevail in Pakistan? Is the social world one where there is a correspondence between the 'thing' out there, the situation being metaphorically like the photograph of a tulip that corresponds to the real tulip? Or perhaps it will be whose interpretation of the real world that prevails, like the artists version of a tulip.

The facts for Musharraf are that Pakistan's integrity is under threat, the facts for Khan are that the People's freedom is under threat. Which is true?

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Musharraf ado about Nothing?

image credit :

So Pakistan is in a crisis according to President Musharraf which naturally demands the introduction of strictures due to the exceptional circumstances.

Do we have someone else who has been to the Mandy Rice Davies School of Management? As the interviewer claims "Mr Musharraf says there is a crisis"...and she replies..."He would wouldn't he"

Here we have, bang on cue a classic example of what Keith Grint describes in Arts of Leadership as the social construction of a Crisis to fit in with the preferred management style of the leader. Could we guess that the M Way is, top down, strict hierarchy, punishment for non-compliance, my way or the highway, dialogue is weakness, only decisive action matters.

Of course all of this will be beautifully wrapped up in Rhetoric Paper, with the words "I didn't want to do this but as you know, I must", printed on the label.

College Courses - Now Garbage! - The Kryptonite Factor

Digg reports that In the hallowed halls of some of America's most elite — and expensive — educational institutions, students are taking classes in subjects like garbage, superpowers and zombies.

Now,before we all express a socially networked 'tut' and swing our electronic 'net-curtains' in dismay, you might consider what YOUR assumptions are about the purpose and methods of adult education

Instinctively we tend to react to such stories with incredulity and dismay...what possible use to man or beast are such courses we all ask. The prevailing assumption is that the 'content' of course has to be vocational. i.e. I can fix things, people, businesses, better after I have learned more stuff in more detail.

What seems to get lost in the wash however is, that ANY form of higher education regardless of the content changes the way a person thinks about their world and how they operate (the vocational bit) in it. School education is about being taught, undergraduate education is about learning how to learn. This means that by going through the process of education your ability to identify sources of information, analyse it, synthesise it (look for patterns that connect themes and issues) and critically evaluate it is the same for any subject. Fundamentally higher education makes you aware of your prior assumptions and the prior assumptions of others, it sensitises you other peoples 'hidden agendas' and inoculates you against dogma.

So what if Supermancould be used a metaphor here? What if the Man of Steel represents hard and fast beliefs that are believed to be invincible and that the rebels amongst us are the Green or Red Kryptonite, imagine...never being duped again.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Tagging a Favourite - Technorati Pastime For The Gullible?

What if, Frank Rich, Ron Paul and Kristina Dimitrova held an open social, where Lula Pelada and Britney Spears did a fashion parade that would appear in My Space and Facebook, to show up Galilea Montejo's big brother.

Maybe Google would get so hot that the Huckabee hurricane would have to call Dean on the iphone giving Melayu Bogel the fright of her life so she'd turn the music down, and change her pantyhose before Paris Hilton brought the photos round.

Sylar might claim to have designed the new Skype phone which would have to be seen on You Tube and make a huge difference to Web 2.0 and social networking.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

The Social De-Construction of Heather Mills

As many of us might know from personal experience the collapse of a relationship is not a pleasant experience, and certainly divorce can be a nasty and bitter process. It is quite clear that Heather has been through the mill on this one.

What intrigues me is the 'self importance' of someone who wishes to parade their distress and anger on daytime television. What exactly is it like in 'Heather World'? She clearly plays a prominent 'role' in her particular Life World and it has attained a form of reality for her in which she seems to presume that we are all avidly interested and concerned. Her part in the play as 'victim' means that she is enacting her Life Script on the surreal media stage that is entirely fabricated and self -serving. Pluck somebody from the superficial world of fashion, salivate over their connection to a 'name' and then generate more steam for the media engine out of the destruction of the marriage.

If the media world were a natural rather than a social phenomenon then we would have discovered perpetual motion, and you;d have to be gullible to have believed in that!