January 21, 2018

Archives for December 2011

Clarity doesn’t make good radio

David Cameron at Euro SummitAt the level of the system – how things work – it’s actually very simple: The UK is not in the Euro and should not be part of stronger arrangements to protect that currency. The necessary rigour is yet to be achieved among the Euro members but when it is it will be self-evident that the UK is not part of the mechanism and nor should it be. The whole issue is not a political question. It’s at heart a design problem – designing a currency system more robust than the storms it must endure.

Meanwhile it suited David Cameron to make a song and dance and pretend to his right wingers that he was being tough with Europe by declining to be part of a new treaty – somewhat convenient politically, but declining was the only conceivable outcome all along. The only reason it’s in doubt is because the Eurozone arrangements aren’t yet as tough as they need to be and so it still looks like the UK could perhaps accomodate them.

Rather boringly, that’s all there is to the story, but clarity doesn’t make good radio (or TV). Clarity doesn’t fill the airwaves and the column inches (or Prime Minister’s Questions), so we have lots of secondary manufactured debate – all of it off the point, and some of it rather destructive. Maybe it has entertainment value, but it doesn’t have much to do with running the country, or the world.

Seeing how things truly work in a systems sense reveals the spurious nature of much of the coverage.

Where else are we rejecting simple explanations that fit when we can explore more complicated ones that don’t?

Is leading revolutionary change always unpaid work?

Mahatma GandhiIn closing, the host feels it necessary to say that he does “real work” too and not all his time can be spent leading on the issue of the meeting – one of the really big challenges of our time.

Doesn’t that strike you as curious?

How come we don’t pay ourselves to work on the really big challenges? How come leading change in society is something we do when we can in our unpaid time?

It seems our economy is organized around paying people to work on the small changes – the incremental, evolutionary stuff, the well-known and the defined.

Big, poorly-understood, ill-defined, revolutionary, leading edge effort seem to be unpaid – not proper “real” work – and perhaps only for the indulgent.

Have we got that backwards, or is it just a timeless constant?

Sometimes words get in the way

Sun and treesWe’re in almost complete silence. The background noise level is very low. We hear a little noise from outside, but not much. The winter sun streams in from the large windows. Everyone is aware of everyone else. Nothing is said. Nothing needs to be said. Connections are made in other ways: By the sharing of an experience, by the sharing of a space, by the sharing of energy. Aspects of personal presence are noticed and acknowledged. Individuals are honored and respected. Much is communicated without words being said. Whether people knew each other beforehand or not makes little difference.


I learned a long time ago that the spoken word is often rather unimportant in face-to-face communication. Tone of voice is more important, and more important than that is what is said by our bodies and our energy.

But now I would go further…

Sometimes the spoken word actually gets in the way, and we’re better to leave it out altogether. Our attempts to articulate what we see, feel and hear are often inadequate and we do better just to show these things. Attempts at verbal communication can distract both us and the other person from what really needs to pass between us.

Sometimes it’s better not to speak at all and leave the space to other forms of communication.

Think twice before you reject a connection

Weary computer userHow do you feel when someone says they don’t want to accept your connection or friend request? Kind of upset, I reckon. Even as an adult, rejection is a little tough. And that’s even if they give a genuine enough reason, such as they only connect with people they’ve met face-to-face (how does that work if you’re building an international network?), or they only use the medium for close friends and family.

But here’s the thing…

Most likely you’ll not trouble them again. In fact, you’ll probably leave them completely alone – for ever. You’ll not risk another rejection. You’ll write them off.

Now look at it the other way round…

If it’s you doing the rejecting, be aware there’s a good chance the other person will leave your life forever and not come back – not speak to you, not do business with you, nothing. Is that what you want?

The price of turning down a connection request might be higher than you realize.

Who to talk to – those like us or those unlike us?

People networkingFrank isn’t interested in speaking to the man on my right. He’s not Frank’s type. He doesn’t seem relevant; he has a very different life. It doesn’t seem like he has anything that Frank needs; and Frank’s resources may not be relevant to him either.

Don’t we so often make this choice?

We speak instead to the people like us – the ones we know are fellow travelers; the ones who can obviously help us develop our ideas, and are clearly receptive to what we have to say. It’s what feels comfortable.

And yet…

If we hope to encourage growth in a group of people, it may be those most different from us that we’ll influence the most, if for no other reason than the gap between us is greatest. And maybe we’ll learn the most from them too. Comfortable it may not be, and we may not know we’ve achieved anything. They may even cause us to question our assumptions!

Now, it’s good to build momentum with like-minded people; to invest our energies in those that are already on the journey. Such is the conventional wisdom for change in organizations – work with the supporters and the undecided as their momentum will carry the remaining unco-operative ones. And if it doesn’t, we’ll remove them from the scene.

Trouble is…

In many situations, we don’t have the power, so we do need to tackle the “difficult” cases.

And maybe the “difficult” ones have the most to teach us, if we are open to what they have to offer.

In on-line networks, it’s tempting to ignore those that speak to the exclusion of listening; to ignore those that post endless (probably ineffective) commercial content on-line, on Twitter for example, without ever engaging with people.

But here’s the thing…

For large scale change, those may be the very people we need to influence.

Next time you’re tempted to choose the like-minded person to talk to, try engaging the individual that’s different instead. Maybe you’ll gain more.

Who do you habitually talk to – the like-minded or the unlike-minded?