Archive for July, 2012

The Unmanifesto Manifesto Or Why It Is Oke To Have A Dream

As Wikipedia states, “a manifesto is a written public declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government”. There are a lot of manifestos out there. So there must have been a big need to write them down. Probably most were drawn up starting from a situation where change, or transformation or emergence towards some new intent was deemed necessary and needed to be documented and made public so that it could reach more individuals. There seems nothing wrong with that basic idea, but nowadays, one can here people resist (not you and me but all the others ofcoures) by stating things like: ‘no more manifestos’, ‘no more thinking’, ‘no more visioning”, ‘let’s just start doing what’s in the manifest’, ‘let’s just act upon the manifest’ etc. So maybe the time is here for an Unmanifesto manifesto? (that’s by the way a nice reverse recursion). And besides stopping writing down new manifestos, this time might also be right to prefix some more of our usual topics with the word “Un”. For example from Controlling to Un-controlling, from Leading to Un-leading, from Directing to Un-directing, from Learning to Un-Learning, from Governance to Un-governance, from Government to Un-government, from Consulting to Un-consulting, from Politics to Un-politics, from Scarcity to Un-scarcity (Abundance) etc. trying to create another kind of balance. But never forget the dreams, never start Un-dreaming! I wish you all happy “Un”-doing whatever it is you want to undo!

How To Interface With The User: The Principle of Least Astonishment

Ever heard about the Principle of Least Astonishment (POLA) and the Law of Demeter? Well, if you are a designer and build user interfaces or construct workplaces combining software from multiple (often incompatible) applications into a “user experience”, you might be interested to read this! The primary intent of POLA is “People are part of the system. The design should match the user’s experience, expectations, and mental models“. It’s exactly this aspect what one can often see is largely underrated. The word “User Interface” is exactly what it means: Interface to the User! But we (not you and me but all the others ofcourse) often forget The User. We name him/her the User because we think he/she “Uses” our software. And just build the system the way we think it’s nice. The User should just accept that. We don’t like to ask him or her because that only might introduce “complaints” and “delay” to our work. So how nice would it become if designers were taught to develop according to the Technology Acceptance Model? And instead of develop for users that don’t have a “face”, develop for real people? And bury the word User, because it’s not users we want to interface with, but Humans! Transform from User Interface development to Human Interface development. It can be done if we are willing to take the time for it and spend the money for it. I wish you happy User Interfacing!

Categorization is a Denial of Diversity or Complexity – Why Fight It?

Let’s admit it: it’s a Jungle out there. So the natural tendency we humans have (not you and me but all the others ofcourse) is trying to control it. Get a grip on it. So the easy way out is to just follow our instinct. Our natural born way to collect things and categorize them can be seen on all kinds of societal levels.

The categorization process often starts in our youth with pinboards or stamp collections or something comparable. We collect all kinds of stuff and then try to structure it by using categorization techniques: great by great, small by small, country by country, size by size, color by color, technique by technique, language by language, origin by origin, species by species and so forth. It’s as if our yachting instinct tells us to do this: go collect something and if you collected more than one piece: categorize it. Or it might be that our instinct tells us to categorize things or we will loose grip. Not be able to control it.

Later on when we grow up, we keep repeating this collecting anger but then in another context. Some of us become managers or leaders. Their tendency is to collect people into their virtual system, categorize them so same kind of people are organized together and then can be put inside an organigram. Others will start a Zoo. They will collect all kinds of wild animals from the jungle, organize them together species by species and put fences around the species so they don’t mix. And even in today’s IT systems we see this technique coming back: we collect data and categorize it, hoping that this technique gives us control. But isn’t this all an illusion?

What would happen if we just left out the (illusionary) fences? Let incompatible collections come together? Let large and small come together? Black and White? Managers and Employees? Let species mix? Letting go of control, because that’s in fact only an illusion? This technique might even help creating a better world, so what are we waiting for? Happy uncategorization hunting!

E2E Strategy Part III – Using the Universal Law of Attraction

Recently I talked about what I call the E2E Strategy – transforming from Ego-centric thinking (and acting) to Eco-centric thinking (and acting). Letting go of your Ego and replacing that with working on an Ecosystem that’s good for all of us.

It’s easy to develop an Egosystem all by yourself for yourself but developing an Ecosystem requires making connections. But since the Internet makes it easy to make connections, you might consider using that to develop an Ecosystem. If hardly costs you Energy.

Now let’s assume that we (not you and me but all the others ofcourse), consider every human being on our world as being connected in one way or another. If this is true (which it might very well be, read here about the Six Degrees of Separation), then the following must also be true. If everyone is connected and thus has some kind of direct or indirecte interdependence, then this automatically implies that putting shortcomings on another person, will allways bounce back in some way to yourself and will mean you inflict a shortcoming on yourself. Now who would want that?

So by starting to think (and act) as if we are all connected in one way or another, then we must already have an Ecosystem. It might however be an Ecosystem of which we are not yet aware but that’s ok.

Now what’s the next step? We need to find out shared beliefs of how this Ecosystem should evolve, so that it benefits all of us. So every thinking and acting we do that is geared towards feeding our Ego’s, will bounce back in some way. But thinking and acting towards feeding a shared Ecosystem, will only enforce this system and make it stronger and more beneficial for all of us. In fact, in this way we are mutually enforcing the Universal Law of Attraction.

So if you share some knowledge (for free) you give something to the world that might make it more wise, more happy, more connected, more conscious etc. And by sharing your knowledge, you will discover that other people will start to multiply your knowledge, possibly even make it better and share it with even more other people. In this way, we collectively are co-creating a new Ecosystem that will become more and more beneficial for all of us. And who wouldn’t want that? Happy Knowledge Sharing!

How Our Collective Unique Views of the World Could Lead To Systemic Failures

So You Think That What You See Is Real (SYTWYSIR)?  But have you ever heard of the Cartesian Theatre? This is in a nutshell how our brain works. We normally collect external stimuli via our eyes, ears, hands and other external senses. These stimuli are organized by the little guy sitting inside our brain (“the stage manager”) to make an internal ‘picture’ of the external world. So the stage manager gives a perceived visualisation of the external world. Go ahead: close your eyes and imagine some scenery. You can see it, even with your eyes closed! So what you think you see does not have to be real! In fact it’s always an illusion.

Now to the core part of this blog. Why might our collective unique views of the world lead to systemic failures? Well, it’s not because we cannot sense (see, hear, …). A systemic failure might occur because what we THINK that the truth is, is only our own internal representation of that truth (not yours or mine but from all the others ofcoures). And that perceived truth might be counterclockwise to another’s perceived truth. Let’s say the little guy in our brain perceives the world as a place, where egoism and greed are normal and should be promoted and a sustainable society is oke but not if you have to pay for it. Now if this little guy accidently also happens to have a lot of societal power or mandate or influence over other people or over big (e.g. financial) outcomes, he might be able to create or sustain a systemic failure just by his perceived view of the world.

So what do we need to do? Well, suppose there are a lot of those little guys out there wandering around in our collective brains, and those little guys have the potential to create or sustain systemic failure, then we need to find a way to enter these guys brains. So that we might inspire them to re-translate there own unique perceivement of their external world into a perceived imaeg of a beautiful, golden age world where abundance is the norm and sharing has become daily routine. How wonderful would that be if that could succeed! Happy stage manager hunting!

Learning To Let Go: It Can Be Easy

We live in a transformational era (not you and me but all the others ofcourse). Paradigms are shifting like never before. Change is all around us. Dynamics have conquered statics. While more and more people seem to embrace change, this might also be very scary for some. After all, the safe, comfortable status quo you know gives you no real reason to embrace change, so why should you? It’s the natural resistance against change. But there’s also a downside to it. Because if you sustain the status quo, you might turn it into a downward spiral that is isolating itself more and more, suffering from learning disabilities more and more and might even turn into incestuous learning culture because renewal isn’t brought in at a regular pace. The fear for learning something new will become greater and greater, the longer you sustain the status quo. Probably the last thing you would want. But how can you let go if your scary? If you’re not sure if you can change? If you’re not sure about the risks, about being out of control?

I used to be scary for change in the past. And now I embrace it. I am not afraid for it anymore. What has happened to me? I once was on a training course about communication. In this course we did many exercises. There was one specific exercise, that never left my brains. It was about empathy. During the exercise, we had to collectively decide how easy we thought it would be to change a certain undesirable situation. And while most of us said it was easy to let go the teacher told us it wasn’t. She said the following: you can only disconnect something that is connected. She learned us how important it is to be empathic if you want to change something. You must show empathy for the person, team or “situation” that still has the connection with the old situation. Take away his/her fears. And only then you might be able to disconnect. But this will only be succesful for situations you can control. Things that are out of your control will be hard to change by you alone. You might need help there from others. So to protect yourself, as a change agent, you have to learn to let things you cannot control go. And if you cán control the situation you are trying to change, you will discover that by making a disconnection, you are in fact making room for something new. By making room, the ‘but we’ve always done it this way‘ statement will no longer be blocking the change. To summarize, by showing empathy and taking away fears for the unknown, you can learn people to embrace change. It can be done! Happy letting go!

Leading the Way Out: From Versus to And

There are two sides to every story. We people (not you and me but all the others ofcourse) can be roughly divided into two broad categories if it comes to being right-handed or left-handed. Being either right- or left-handed has to do with Laterality. But there are also people that are both right- and left-handed. They fall in the category of ambidexterity and can combine both “features” easily.

What’s the relation with this blog’s title: from Versus to And? Well, it was just an example to make transparent that ambidexterity, which is inclusive and thus reflects the “And” part (left- AND right-handed) has benefits over laterality, which is exclusive and thus reflects the “Versus” part (left- ORright-handed). You might also say that this has to do with the differences between dualism/duality and oneness/singularity. The table below is an example overview of some terms that can be approached in an exclusive manner (it’s either the left column or the right column) and in an inclusive manner (both the left AND the right column are valuable). The idea is to show that inclusive reasoning (for example both structure AND relationship) might be more valuable in the end than exclusive reasoning (it’s either structure OR relationship).

Left-handed “values”

Right-handed “values”
Structure is most important
Relationship is most important

Night

Day

Thinking and acting from limitations or threats

Thinking and acting from possibilities or chances

A human being is just a factor

A human being is an ACTOR

Control is important

Spontanity is important

Trust is good, but control is better

Control is good, but trust is better

Only greed is better

Only sharing is better

So we might conclude that many aspects in life are dual and have there natural opposites (universal law of polarity). The left- and right handed aspects are identical in “style”, but different in “effect”.  In fact, just like day cannot exist without night, Yin cannot exist without Yang and greed cannot exist without charity (the ability to “share”). It’s all a question of the right balance. To sum up the message: if you practice the law of polarity you agree that the more ‘darker’ sides cannot exist without the more ‘lighter’  sides and stating that we need both in a balanced way prevents that we focus too much on either one of them. I wish you a happy inclusive reasoning yourney! 

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