I used to be a control-freak. Seeing things that others did “wrong” in my judgment. Seeing opportunities for preventing others make mistakes. Adding structure where I thought others created chaos. Adding principles where I thought others must be missing them. Adding policies where I thought others needed them for damage control. Promoting standards to limit innovation where others in fact needed room for innovation. Adding governance where I thought others must be governed. Ignoring the idea that others must have a chance for the necessary learning experiences. Until I read the statement “Relax. Nothing is under Control” from Adi Da Samray. Since then I am more and more convinced that too much control isn’t desired. And if any, control should not be aimed at controlling others but rather on helping others. So I am learning now how to let go of things I used to want to have “under control”. Learning to transform my controller “role” into a helper role. And I discovered some useful instruments that support me with this transformation. They’re very easy to use and they’re free. They are virtues. The most important virtue that can help letting “control” go is trust. If you trust another person, you’re allready halfway there. Think of it this way: the cost of structural lack of trust will probably be many times higher than the benefits of structural trust. Another virtue is forgiveness. If another person makes a learning mistake and you forgive them, you’re at 75%. People make mistakes, you too! Accept it as a fact! Allow ample room to learn. If you practice patience when things aren’t quite going the way you would like (for example not fast enough) you’re at 85%. I like to compare this to the “angels” patience I must practice when training my dog for agility: it works!. And then there is respect. If you respect that not everyone has the same learning skills as you would maybe like, you’re at 90%. Not everyone is equally talented so the real “talent management” is to accept talent diversity and integrate the available talents. Acceptance brings you to 95%. And finally, add a little love on top to help take away (suppressed) fears. Now you’re at 100%. To wrap things up: 50% trust, 25% forgiveness, 10% patience, 5% respect, 5% acceptance and 5% love are useful ingredients that help me transform my role from controller to helper. The percentages are just an example, they can be adapted to any situation. Good luck with practicing these virtues and please let me know if they also worked for you. Picture source here.
Archive for December, 2011
If you believe what all the trendwatchers and futurists predict, than 2012 certainly will become a year with some major changes ahead. Whatever predictions turn out to be true or not, I decided I will go my own way and use my own pace. And if the changes that were predicted really happen, I am more than ready for them. My basic approach for this is to make myself acquainted with the predictions and then “go with the flow”. I will increase dreaming and thinking about the things I really want and in this way stimulate creating my own preferred reality. I will put some extra effort in being more friendly to people in my environment. And practice exchanging basically positive thoughts and opinions. Practice the Universal Law of Attraction. Stay away from negative forces if they come on my path. And give more without asking something in return. And giving things that people really want to have, instead of the things I think they need or should need. Practice the Universal Law of Free Will. I will put more attention to my own personal goals. I will try to learn each day from the people in my environment and from well-known great minds. I will listen more to my (intuitive) heart and less to my (rational) brain and balance the two. I will put more emphasis on living in the here and now. Here and now is the only time and place that is relevant. This approach will help me focussing less on the past which cannot be changed anyway. It will also help me focussing less on the future which will come as it is planned and when it is planned. This way, I don’t spend too much time in periods that cannot be changed anyway. So living in the here and now will help me enjoying those moments to the fullest. And finally, I will put more effort in examining suppressed fears so I can try to handle them appropriately. Practice respect and love where appropriate. Stimulate curiosity to conquer fears. What about you: do you want to share your intentions?
People Collect Things. It’s probably some kind of survival thing we all know how to use intuitively. When we are young, we collect things into collections, for example pins, buttons, postal stamps, strips, toys, dolls etc. When we grow up, we start collecting knowledge at school. And as soon as we start earning money, we start collecting money. Because money can increase our status or power, it stimulates a new driving force coming into place: greed. And as we further grow and mature and Maslov gets us higher on the ladder, we like to collect Power or Status. And it drives us to claim ownership of concepts that were previously distributed. We do this because it gives us status and statue and makes us more important. So our intuitively driven collect anger helps us shape society the way it is and repeat history over and over again. And even if we are aware that this collect anger helps driving less desired societal values, we often don’t really don’t know how to change this or are afraid to. So instead of stimulating more higher or spiritually aimed goals such as sharing and integrating concepts, it drives things the other way around. It’s a kind of divide and conquer strategy, aimed more at separating than at integrating concepts. What can we do about it? Maybe the transformation principles of the book Spiritual Value of Danah Zohar might come to help. Here’s my interpretation how to: start by examining our (often) deeply buried driving forces, confirm they are there and commit yourself to try to change them. This approach could make our world probably a much better place to live in. And even if this approach will let us encounter common barriers like fear, doubt or apathy, there’s still hope. We can transform our driving forces if we want to. The ingredients to use are simple and easy to accomplish. Our most common driving forces can be transformed if we are willing. For example, apathy can be replaced with an appeal to examine or face our driving forces. Doubt can be replaced with dualistic viewpoints: respect the old and respect the new view on the world. Fear can be replaced with respect, love, stimulation of a learning culture etc. Greed, egoism (collect anger) can be replaced with a shared vision of societal values. Anger, despair or frustration can be replaced with holistic viewpoints. And finally status and power can be replaced with humility. By transforming they turn into new, higher value driving forces. For example by transforming fear with love, the new driving force becomes mastery, and who wouldn’t want that? So what is your opinion: could this approach work?
Chances are big that the figure here to the left looks familiar to you. That is because many organizations use this model as a reference model to organize their workload. It’s a divide and conquer type strategy, based on the premisse that people who’s type of work “seem” to have nothing to do with eachother are separated. Besides dividing work in “silos” the knowledge sharing is (sometimes deliberately) minimized. After all, why should you share knowledge if it’s not “your” business? Allthough the model has brought our society many good things, it didn’t really put people first and was aimed at wiring in efficient processes. And it didn’t help us prevent all the crises we’re in. But why not take a chance now to offer a new fresh look at organizing work? It couldn’t hurt I think. Maybe we’re now up to exchanging the dominant Tayloristic “taylor-made” management style of the previous era with a new “tailor-made” style that is focussed more on organizing and integrating. Instead of the more traditional managing and separating. What do you think, could it work?
Figure source. Just some crazy thought, but suppose organizations could make all of their decisions in realtime, just like a flock of birds does? What kind of information would we need to make realtime decisions? Well, if the goal is just to “survive” (“keep flying”) it would probably be sufficient to have information of the innovation speed and direction of direct “neighbors”. Suppose we could facilitate (supported with modern ICT) a distributed network of decision making information. And each node (decision making “entity”) in the network would get the decision making information relevant for making the most important (“survival”) decisions. So what are then the most important decisions? If we compare to the flock of birds, it’s making sure you’re “local” innovation speed and direction matches that of your direct environment. It’s allmost as if we would apply Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety here. The law states that “variety absorbs variety, defines the minimum number of states necessary for a controller to control a system of a given number of states.” So here you have it: you need to match your own variety with that of your direct environment. Don’t make it more complex or less complex but make sure the complexity matches. And to reduce the decision making complexity you could try to limit the number of decision making connections because that would make the distributed decision making process more complex. That is because the complexity of the network increases quadratically with the number of connected nodes. But also the value of a network increases proportional to the number of connected nodes (Metcalfe’s Law). So we need large networks to create more value. The large networks could consist of interconnected small “local” networks to reduce the total decision making complexity. So here’s a wrap up: use the distributed topology Paul Baran† designed for the Internet as a reference model for distributed decision making and as a reference model for distributed value creation, combine that with Ashby’s Law of Requisite Variety to reduce the “local” decision making complexity and combine that with Metcalfe’s Law to increase the total value of our network. If we would really do that, I wonder how our would world look like?
Let’s face it: Curiosity Killed The Fears. The famous quote of Dany Gokey “Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity” inspired me to write this post. I called it “Curiosity killed the fears” because I believe this is one of the tools we could apply to conquer some of our fears. Since we all have reptilian-like brains that are conditioned to let us act in fight or flight responses, the urge to be curious is often automatically blocked. But look at how it could be: the dolphin can see the tiger and vice-versa but they can’t hurt each other. The same for the cat and the mouse, and the polar bear and the child and the rhino and the bird. Lot’s more of comparable examples out there. So there is no need for fear, but there is need for curiousity! So don’t be afraid, replace fear of the unknown with curiousity. Just try it, it won’t hurt you!
We humans have brains that work like reptilians. If something new comes on our path, we allmost automatically react with a fight or flight response. We generally fear the new, unknown because we see it at first glance like a threat. We rather stick to the safe, well known things we are used to. The things we were sure that worked in the past, even if we all know they were far from optimal. We just accept that fact and generally try to avoid structural renewal. But if you take a look at all the crises the world is in, isn’t it time to change our reptilian-like brains into real human brains, which we by the way all have? So put away the fears, exchange them with love, respect and a culture that stimulates societal learning instead of risc avoidances from the past, and let in the light which will help us conquer the crises and create a brave new world where abundance thinking defeats scarcity thinking. Good Luck!