A Gray Day – can we Sue?

What SMART change to the control environment is being made?

I am sure we have all read the report. It does not take long. Once the blame game subsides, what has changed or will change now? That is my question.

Whilst SMART objectives are a little cliché these days, they do still serve purpose when seeking visibility of behavioural change, and thereby regaining trust in systemic failure.

SMART move to avoid committed change…

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

Not that much of this report is intended to be anything more than presentation of facts. My concern here is that we have sixty pages that simply gift the tabloid tickertape and headlines a few more inches – but none of that will lead us anywhere meaningfully forward.

This report is a pretty disappointing an output by volume. By quality, the analysis and conclusions are so very weak and devoid on any tangible opportunity to act. And I see nothing coming to challenge that fact.

Painting over the cracks

In the end we are being offered a report that describes a clear dereliction of duty. The greater dereliction here is what is happening beyond this report. The failure to offer SMART actionable change should concern us all.

I present the key wording that foreshadows this coming apathy to change. In essence what this reads is “mistakes were made, but changes are afoot, and you just need to trust us not to do it again“.

All of these quotes are from pages 36 and 37 of the Sue Gray report.

Mistakes were made:

“…attitudes and behaviours inconsistent with the guidance…”

“…failures of leadership and judgement in No. 10 and the Cabinet Office…senior leadership at the centre, both political and official, must bear the responsibility for this culture…”

“…lack of respect and poor treatment of security and clearing staff. This was unacceptable…”

unquantifiable actions taken, thus enabling leadership to once again escape:

“…fragmented and complicated leadership structures in No. 10. I am reassured to see that steps have since been taken to introduce more easily accessible means by which to raise concerns…embed a culture that welcomes…challenge and speaking up…”

“…changes to the organisation and management of Downing Street and the Cabinet Office with the aim of creating clearer lines of leadership and accountability…”

More time being gifted to avoid measurable improvement:

“…I am pleased progress is being made in addressing issues I have raised…”

“…since then guidance has been issued to all Government Departments…”

“…now these need the time and chance to bed in…”

visibility | behaviour | trust

If this is the direction of change, then we will be no closer to increasing visibility and addressing inadequate behaviours (as intent, belief, action). There can be no expectation of increased trust.

In any other context, this would not stand. Yet here, we all seem powerless to intervene. Let’s at least start with asking the better questions. What SMART change to the control environment is being made, to which you (PM) stand personally accountable for?

Mistakes were made…

…scapegoats will be blamed

Is it possible to see through the manoeuvring that is intended to pass on blame? Particularly when distraction is involved. The origin of the scapegoat suggests we have been societally accepting of this idea throughout history. Accountability must be retained in high office. Prime Ministers and NHS Trusts showing us why we need more transparency and power to intervene.

The original “scapegoat”

This quotation is from Karen Armstrong 2014, “Fields of Blood : Religion and the history of violence”

“Every year in ancient Israel the high priest brought two goats into the Jerusalem temple on the Day of Atonement. He sacrificed one to expiate the sins of the community and then laid his hands on the other, transferring all the misdeeds on to its head, and sent the sin-laden animal out of the city, literally placing the blame elsewhere.

In this way, Moses explained “the goat will bear all their faults away with it into the desert place”. In his classic study René Girard argued that the scape goat ritual defused rivalries among groups with the community. In similar way, I believe, modern society has made a scape goat of faith”

Leadership scapegoats

I give leadership a hard time. Occasionally I step back and ask myself if I am in-fact just projecting my own failings onto others. But not today. Today I am in full rant.

I think we have seen several protracted attempts at such deflection in the headlines today. Leaders who may claim to be victim. Political scapegoats. Alternatively, the case can be made that they themselves have been found to be creating distance to invite a future scapegoat in.

Example one, who is preparing whom for the blame here in party-gate, part IX?

Mr Raab said the PM had updated Parliament “to the best of his knowledge and his understanding

BBC article here

Is that really the party line? Surely, there is at no point opportunity for leadership to claim this final defence for withholding information – “I didn’t know” – that is not an excuse when you are in charge.

I have argued before that accountability is immovable from the highest office. In this instance, failure to check equals failure to act. That is failure as the servant of the people you represent. Accountability of the senior decision-maker is really that simple. With rightful blame attached.

But what concerns me here is the potential impact if Boris is seen to be a scapegoated leader, because it offers permission to leave all else unchanged. Boris is a scoundrel, and he must go – but what is stopping the next being just the same? We need change – but the system is as much to blame.

visibility | behaviour | trust

First, another example of the ease with which this can be flagged (if we are so inclined). Back to some basic heuristics to check the situation against.

visibility | b | t

A leader who is unable to present clarity because of a failure to look, is acting with neglect by turning the blind eye, or conveniently choosing not ask. We can see this, so should the governance that keeps their decision-making abilities defined.

v | behaviour | t

This persistent behaviour is self-serving. It enables the personal defence of a child. Except this is not a playground. “I didn’t know”, is responded to simply with, “Well you were expected to. It is your job to know.” We can back this up with clarity of permitted and expected processes in senior role.

v | b | trust

Once a failure to perform is highlighted, so inherent trust is eroded. A little lost trust, or perhaps in totality. Either way, this prompts a change.

Any manager will know this. If you have people responsibilities you will know this. The underperformer is now necessarily more closely managed. In 2022 may be in performance reviews, or perhaps the introduction of a performance improvement plan, disciplinary action, or in extreme situations in termination. This may be necessary for the good of the wider team. It may only be fair to them if lesser performance is managed this way. But we culpable too, at least in part, if the right training, the right resourcing, adequate empowerment and oversight offered, and clarity of internal processes that are regularly checked to ensure they reflect what is needed as critical controls.

Anyone with client responsibilities will know this. Any client relationship can reflect this building or loss of trust. A supply chain partner may have contractual remedy or legal ramification ( particularly if there was no trust but contracts enabled trade). Better trust however is built when closer relationships are being fostered. Better trust that goes both ways.

In all cases increased visibility, or corrective behaviour, are required now that we have less trust.

What should support the assumed trust, is the checking. The processes of assurance that may be line manager, peer review, stage gate approval, which is then further supported by spot checking or audit that is expected is actually coming through. How often do we see a lack of governance, procedure, or level of independent challenge meaning things are missed?

I speak at length about this in construction. This is more than dealing with assumed error, this is also adding value as that extra pair of eyes. “I didn’t know” as a leader is to reflect the failure to be aware. Why trust the leader who clearly does not care? This is the leader who is not serving you.

More scandalous dereliction of leadership

Another headline grabber today. This one a National disgrace that has been known of for years. This is the conclusions of catastrophic failures of management detailed in Ockenden report. Also see here, the BBC summary outlining the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust. This is twenty years of negligent leadership, no doubt set against a backdrop of chronic underfunding. Funding however can be no excuse. I am tempted to see this as a twenty year reign of outrageous intimidation and deceit. Worrying in of itself, but it is not standalone to this one Trust – or should we say the antithesis of the word trust.

“The reasons for these failures are clear,” she said. “There were not enough staff, there was a lack of ongoing training, there was a lack of effective investigation and governance at the trust and a culture of not listening to the families involved.”

BBC report dated today {here} quoting the enquiry leader, the remarkable midwife come archetypal bastion of wisdom, Julie Ockenden

This behaviour by this Trust, is absolute failure of the stewardship we demand. Whether they see it coming or not, this must prompt wider change. No leaders gets to say “I didn’t know”, or “I was badly advised”. Not when babies were needlessly dying, and senior people still refused to look, listen, or believe the findings of 8 separate expert opinions, or the bravery and tenacity of the bereaved.

No to delegated accountability

In my opinion, these two very different leadership failures bring us to the same place. Accountability stays at the top, irrespective of whether each and every leader who came and went from this Board of Trustees chose to look. Regardless of whether a PM chose to ask the most basic of questions, and opt to rely upon the defence of “I didn’t know”. And let me be clear, I think Boris did know and does know – but that needs not be debated if we can simply call out the failure in his claims that he at no stage asked.

It is the same with the Board of Trustee. Theirs is the final decision, based upon visibility of any information gap they are prepared to accept. Theirs is the behaviour permitted to turn a blind-eye or to scapegoat staff. Theirs was the opportunity to act and ensure risk, internal control and assurance were functioning as they should. This is the trust we put in them.

I have offered a detailed argument as to why accountability as a concept is best understood if it is deemed only ever upwardly visible {here}. If seniority is permitted to deflect accountability this is when behaviours are free to become distanced from risk, trust can be abused, and visibility intentionally obfuscated. Focus can be distracted toward secrecy, decision parameters hidden, poor leadership rewarded as if good. The solutions are already available, these answers are not new. Existing management theory exists to enable this, with just a modest tweak in making accountability anchored, whilst responsibility moves.

These are the fundamentals of our leaders being our chief-administrators, and being responsible for the control environments that we all rely upon. I sometimes wonder if the administrative realities of leadership are somehow forgotten by some, or perhaps never learnt. There is a reason that the MBA qualification in management has administration attached to the name. There is reason that high office is called the Administrative function. Accountability lives here, whether understood or not.

Let’s get back to managing our leaders – accountability is to blame

We may well have made faith our modern scapegoat, and Armstrong’s arguments in her 2014 book is compelling. I would venture further still. 21st Century political leadership, and indeed invisible and unaccountable leadership in all forms, must be reframed. They are not scapegoats, they are rightly to blame. Failing to acknowledge this is making a scapegoat of us all.

Plato – The Republic

Still reflecting in Plato’s cave

Essays not withstanding, I managed a revisit to Plato’s “The Republic” this weekend. This passage caught my eye:

“the object of our legislation…is not the special welfare of any particular class in our society, but of the society as a whole; and it uses persuasion or compulsion to unite all citizens and make them share together the benefits which each individual can confer on the community; and its purpose in fostering this attitude is not to leave everyone to please himself, but to make each man a link in the unity of the whole”

Plato – The Republic – Book VII pp242

Watching the news, and ignoring political overtones, these words seem to reflect yet to be learned truths…

Let the seller beware

caveat venditor – let the seller beware

There have been some notable u-turns this week and last. U-Turns by institutions normally too big to be easily persuaded to redirect based upon public opinion. We have Mars joining Coco-Cola and McDonalds in creating distance from Russia. We had an apology from Shell for buying cheap Russian oil. We had FIFA and the Olympic committee bending to challenge to their neutrality. At Westminster we have a government in constant repositioning as lack-lustre responses expose inability to sense the mood or recover lost faith.

There is new uncertainty causing false moves and ill-judged decisions by boards, executive function and high political office. In the next few months I think we are going to see many more.

The real power of the consumer is at work here. Namely the ability to make a choice. It is a cause of fear and indecision as old power priorities become incompatible with precious corporate reputation that is hard won and easily lost. When reputation is at risk, this threat brings new priorities to decision-making. Old priorities relegated and recategorised as acceptable collateral damage. Particularly when precious share value (or electoral support) is rushing to the door.

I predict more pressure on institutions is on the way. Based upon the change of attitudes of us, the general public, in face of increased uncertainty. We are becoming more attentive and suspicious of motives. This is infectious. Institutions should expect the seeds of doubt to grow.

v | b | t explaining this increased variance to change

Here are some brief reflections of what I think is going on.

v | b | trust

Reputation is the preservation of trust we the consumer/user have in the seller/provider. Do we trust their values and ethics to align with our own? As individuals we are able to revisit our values and expectations quickly. We are fickle. We are sometimes irrational. Unlike the institution however, we as individuals are each capable of reframing. We may change group affiliations, or sit in more than one camp. Each one of us resetting towards higher norms of human decency when distracted from our more selfish localised cause. This fragile belief or perception (i.e., that others share these higher values) can be quickly eroded. This reassessment can be applied equally to a single entity within an industry, an entire industry, a group, a government, a nation, a whole corner of the globe.

visibility | b | t

In moments of increased uncertainty, it is natural to seek more information. The more profoundly different the circumstances, the more motivated we are to take more time to look. We may have seen leaders turning a blind-eye. Secretly we may have turned a blind-eye to that too. But when those justifications for our disinterest are inconsistent with new threat, we are blind no more.

v | behaviour | t

This is a change to our behaviour. Redirecting peripheral interests towards central attention. Assessing others behaviour with more critical interest. Seeking to know better the attributes and bias of another. This is an increased openness to revisit and change our modelled understanding of how we relate to the other entity. This is reappraisal of action as indications of, or arising from, factors such as attitudes, motivations, beliefs. Ultimately this is the prompt to readjust and make choices anew.

v | b | t – Boristas beware

Dare I dream that in these moments of heightened uncertainty we may all begin asking more probing questions? Trusting less and demanding more?

This is what I see with Shell’s nervous apology this week. We are watching their purchase decisions of cheap Russian oil, and the excuses on Friday did not hold. It would normally not have caught our attention. This is McDonalds and Coca-Cola taking positions on Russia that a week ago would simply not have been entertained. Again, we are now watching and potentially making significant life choices, if another’s actions reflect values we do not hold.

This is also the spin of politics at Westminster. Wavering and spluttering as more pertinent questions are posed. In my house this is now a standing joke of the self-serving. The Boristas in high-office serving us Johnsonian truths daily, now finding life increasingly hard. Their servings shown to be insipid and cold.

Form follows function

Dare I dream this increased uncertainty of what is otherwise taken for granted is going to provoke necessary change in response. The critical controls of decision-efficacy challenged anew, structures of wider governance required to change too. If we all ask more searching questions, we eventually look at the forms serving the functions we expect, and ask if maybe they have to change too.

The bigger question now approaching is what new primary function is now emerging? The functional forms to better reflect these changing wants and needs of the global village. And what forms can retain their use as this unfolds?

The 2020s have not finished with us yet…

Appraisals of leadership

Weaponised words

I found myself living angrily this week. Angry at the realities of leadership that is evidently serving itself.

I try hard to maintain a network diverse enough not to be an echo chamber. I now find myself doubting whether my LinkedIn commentary this week has been constructive. Particularly that aimed directly at leadership. However, there were plenty others doing the same. Those voicing concern at direction – not the personal attacks that some feel free to share.

From my own filtered view, this social media showing of public mood seems to have been a persuasive factor in international diplomacy. A weight of sentiment, acting as a straw poll. Certainly the discourse rattled my own thoughts enough to draw some conclusions. And then call foul on leadership seemingly content to rattle sabres whilst quietly cashing in Russian cheques.

v | b | trust

This is low trust – the deceit of leadership. This is trustworthiness at its lowest ebb. Based upon remembered past bad experience of the individual. Or less helpfully, the bias and social stereotypes we each bestow upon out-groups, whilst we pretend we and our in-group stand tall.

visibility | b | t

This is increased visibility being sought. Increased uncertainty requiring closer examination. More regular checking. More questioning of response. Higher trust would curb some enquiry. But this is following discovery of falsehoods by our servants of government. Having been let down before and therefore wanting to see more. Seeing statements like “we will be decisive” meaning “we are being hesitant”. Still seeing the old characters in the spotlight. Smirks. Arrogance. Contrite. I’m alright.

v | behaviour | t

This is poor behaviour. This is Vladimir Putin receiving all manor of dignitaries in the last two weeks in order to reinforce a duplicity of assurance and intent. This too is the international responses that have since been slow to act – privately gauging public mood – whilst offering strong language to Ukrainian counterparts, in need of action not words.

On the other hand this is a speech from a comedy actor, turned premier. Speech amidst action. Leading by example. All capturing the attention of a wider world because it highlights the flaccid response from the rest. Words lead from the front in direct action, not cosy intentions or promises pretending to be more.

Other poor behaviour in leadership this week. This is Grant Shapps merrily posting on LinkedIn that he has set a TfL budget and that he now expects others to carry the blame. Delegation with no interest in ongoing influence or control. This is the Post Office scandal – a board and their lawyers allegedly attempting to hush up a litany of errors and concealing the collateral damage they knowingly caused. This is Carillion and it’s auditors now under investigation for what I can only assume to be – at the very least – contemptible apathy by all. In all cases this is leadership by proxy. A defensive decision-making attitude that exposes a willingness to see failure on their watch – conditional only upon ensuring failure is permitted to pass by with blame attached. Delegated blame, intended to ensure protection of a party, a corporation, or (more cynically) individual interests that can be thereafter restored.

A side note here is the caveat we all hold. The attempt to distinguish behaviour, by its intention. The white lie for good reason. Any parent or friend or mediator will know that – what is justified, half-said, or left out. In positions of influence or power, such intention inevitably becomes selective toward self-interest. The goodly compromise, that erodes morality; becoming the compromised, via self-declared moral cause. We are all human, after all.

visibility | behaviour | trust

What I conclude here is that I have been heuristically seeing these evolving situations with the tool improvisation anyone does when in a hurry. Returning to quick and peripheral judgements. I have sought more closely to assess what I think are hidden motivations and self-serving attitudes, based on a low level of trust in those I observe.

The sting in this tail

A final point is one I have had to ponder. Because I truly wish to reflect upon truth. This low trust in leadership I hold is recurring. It is sometimes one bordering on anti-establishment sentiment from within the establishment that keeps me safe. At some level it is a projection. If I am honest, one drawn from wondering if I would fair any better in face of such challenge of my own leadership. Or more squarely, my aversion to it’s sting.

In of itself, this is much the same assessment possible via a truth outlined via my own visibility | behaviour | trust. I am angry at leadership that does not serve, because the temptation is ever present to be just the same. We are all human, after all. But that’s the challenge, not the excuse.

Leading by example

Winning hearts and minds

We are about to turn a European country into a guerrilla buffer zone. That seems to be the (lack of) plan. Pretty despicable by all sides, and the worst-case outcome for Putin who I assume still favours that outcome to an overt NATO alliance war.

SWIFT may be a symbollic gesture. It is still a more meaningful gesture than the symbollic words and bluster offered so far. All nationalities weighing up economic priorities are sharing the shameful hesitation that Putin was counting on. And denying the early moral support “swift” action would have offered to the people of Ukraine.

This is the overt and globally supported economic action. Whatever is covert as forces and weapons on the ground is not what is putting hope into hearts and minds. SWIFT is the tangible actions that fearful Ukrainian people can see. Ironically slow is this response.

Enough of the powderpuff words that us armchair patriots desire. Time to test the hypobole of contingent planning, not just the rhetoric of resolve.

Original LinkedIn comment here

History repeating

Standing up for truth

My heart hurts for the innocent this evening. But if I’m honest, what I think I really feel is fear. Anxiety based upon a bursting of assumption. Assumption that tragedy of war only befalls distant shores.

I’m in awe of the bravery of the peoples of Ukraine tonight. And those in Russia prepared to stand up and break a silence upon what now unfolds.

As World War Two was becoming history, Karl Jaspers wrote his classic book “The origin and goal of history”. Publish in 1953. A monumental piece of philosophical discourse. He asserts that the human project only has 6,000 years of history, because to have history requires means to remember. He writes, “only with history did man become truly human” (Jaspers 1953, pp57). He is making the case that with history comes potentiality as well as substance; our transitory nature becomes a conscious reality and with it an ever-present awareness of our time and mortality; calling the individual to action amidst a historical perspective; this dependently acquired set of beliefs.

I read this book over Christmas, thinking how powerful his insights. Coming as they did, so soon after the Second World War. I also read his work thinking he was writing in a very different age. This week, we seem to be dragged back a little closer to that time again.

Karl Jaspers was a Swiss-German. He was a psychotherapist, turned scholar of philosophy. Brilliant, but without a philosophical position of his own, his name is less well known than other Germans of this time. Most notably Martin Heidegger, who infamously took to Nazism. Jaspers, married to a Jew, and generally regarded as the better human being than Heidegger became, is inevitably less well remembered.

In this same era – the era of propaganda and mass communication owing to the availability of radio – another psychological perspective was published in 1953. This was Carl Hovland and Yale University who explained persuasion inspired by the effectiveness of messaging in World War Two. The Hovland/Yale model, remains the prominent means to explain the critical importance of “who says what to whom”. It explains our susceptibility to propaganda. This model became the foundation stone of sales, marketing, and what we know to be the power of persuasion.

These insights came from moments of heightened uncertainty. Where a disdain to historic reality had prevailed. By those seeking to own truth, rather than speak it.

Today this same owned truth, is heard once more, in its insidious glory. Abroad. But also at home. What must prevail is the demand that we judge leadership that takes care for truth. And through that lens we must call out all who dare lead by weaponising truth. For it is they few alone, who are dealing out this new despair. In the name of owned truth.

The role of persuasion

11 slides to change a mind

Fascinating insight tonight about the process of persuasion upon one man. A man of whom I am less and less persuaded by, but who is necessarily persuasive in ways few can claim to be. But this story is how Boris was turned around to the reality of climate-change.

This is not my story to tell. Here’s the full background in carbonbrief.org. Judge for yourself how compelling a case was made in just 11 slides.

When it comes to being persuaded, the most important factor for those most intellectually astute is to offer them the most robust argument from both perspectives, to enable them to independently evaluate if a different conclusion is to be drawn. Moderate fear may work, but no more. When it comes to influence both propaganda and advertising demonstrate the factors of “who says what to whom, and with what effect” – in essence the key factors in play. At least according to Hovland-Yale’s model (1953).

That assumes external factors have been the most persuasive. Innate motivation is alternatively considered in a number of theories. Elaboration Likelihood Model suggests an individual may either take in the detailed assessment centrally, or peripherally in less detail and more focus on the credibility of those conveying the message. Balance Theory would attribute attitude change to association – sources, trustworthiness, expertise. Social Judgement Theory examines the psychology distance of one attitude to another. Cognitive Dissonance theory could explain both increasing resistance or relief at hearing a better perspective – dependent upon wider beliefs or concerns – and only if a choice was to be freely made rather than compelled.

All potentially valid factors and explanations we can perhaps have in mind in experiencing the powers of influence we each witness, make, or receive, each and every day.

11 slides must be particularly compelling if they alone have turned a mind so far from one perspective to another, on such an emotive issue, and in such a short time.

I’m going to be the optimist and conclude the case is indeed that powerfully made. Others may conclude a more cynical factor was in play.

CoP26 – cometh the hour

A quandary of Leadership

If you are democratically elected to serve a community, how can you not? Yet if that service is set in the now, and the future need is not what is on the minds of the electorate you serve, what to do?

This is the quandary of every government official at all levels of leadership or management at the CoP26. My own view is we need diplomats not warriors to unravels problems that we attempt to share and solve in times of peace. We have tough discussions ahead but also need of time spent listening, learning, empathising, and understanding. Bringing our best expectations of representation and respect, and expecting the same in return. But with that comes a need to be strong in action, not words. To take the strain and persuade those that you serve, that they should take the strain too.

v | b | t

visibility | b | t

That starts with clarity of goal, vision, or simply visibility of the whole – by the quality of our enquiry not just the easy factoid to bend into truth. This clarity comes from the ground up, and from the top down. It comes from being seen to be acting as one would want the other to you.

v | behaviour | t

As leaders we then have behaviours in mind, and the manner of control. As directed by motivations. Addressing attitudes that are not fit for the purpose at hand. Addressing the goals of others so that goals are then shared rather than required by coercion or force. We take on the hard, because we know we should.

v | b | trust

That is where we build trust. By our actions and set against the better path. This starts with each of us, as self-control. By what ends we seek to choose, and with the other party’s needs not just our own. Knowing the path ahead may have unknowns. Leaders making decisions from being present to the task, and not simply to keeping decision-blame at another’s home.

This is why I become ever more determined to find better ways to bring projects into one space. To bring more collaborative effort and cooperative ideals to the more difficult challenges ahead. I found my self somewhat bemused at several LinkedIn exchanges this week. From leaders who seem intent on being anything but. I will return to all in due course, but the below reflects well enough why we need leaders who can find hope, and not simply share their own impotent despair.

Below: A written response (not addressed to me) from an MP who seems to have decided there is no point in being present to the challenges we all face.

Philip Davies MP

Screen shot from a third-party LinkedIn post

The above letter has been a news item and general social media fodder for a week. This MP has allegedly responded with encouragement to circulate it further on the grounds it represents the attitude of many of his constituents. It has legitimacy as a perspective – all Members of Parliament are voted for as the representative voice of those they serve.

My quote opposite was made on LinkedIn. The position expressed by this MP one I found to reflect all who seem to have taken to despair. But equally, I reflect upon this sentiment being a very human response, that I think many will hold true. We are after-all programmed to act in defence of our own communities first. But what is democracy to do when the popular and easy comes face to face with the harder position to take? On the basis of looking after your own first leadership, this attitude can become the default and convenient position for all.

One observational riposte

It’s refreshing to at least see a defeatist elitist open up. “It’s too hard. It’s their fault not ours. Why should we if they don’t?”
Bonkers to think this counts as leadership or even representation.
We [UK] are the 5th biggest economy in the world. We have historic connections to more of the planet than most. We hold the guilt of past endeavour to hold and overcome. But we also have means and a presence on the world stage. We are the persuaders, and the influence. The diplomats. And when needed the front foot accountability demanding bureaucrats.
I don’t see much Churchill, Nietzsche, or Ayn Rand here. “We will fight them on the beaches; or spite them with our meekness”
“The will of power (naps)”.
Maybe he reflects the real darkest hour…the hour we chose not to choose. Reneged on service as leaders of more than one flock. Instead counting cash in a vault and doubling the locks.
Be present, and be leaders. Or give way.

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About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here:

The global witching hour

Be more than a-woke by ghosts today

A blog to offer an alternative way to scare the living without disturbing the dead.

Halloween night is when the witches come. Except that’s not really the original point. Nor is it the manner of celebration many traditions choose this day to represent.

Leaders of the world step up

There are leaders in Glasgow tomorrow. But there are leaders within us all every day. I say we should each start there. Demanding less of others, and more of ourselves. Maybe then, mother nature can know we still care.

If you think this is you. There are a few words more.

—//—

Halloween | All Saints | Day of the Dead

Before the conquistadors and James Bond had their say, there was an Aztec tradition that enabled reflection upon time with forbearers. Re-engage with the sacrifices of time and toil of lives now given up. The progress they made, and unknowns they faced. Or the labours they were forced to provide. Or the lives forced to take or give up.

That was the 9th month in the Aztec Calendar. In Japan, the Buddhist tradition of Oban is celebrated in mid-August with similar ancestral homage respected. In Celtic tradition the end of summer, Samhain, it was believed the world of gods and people combined with much mischief abounding upon a fearful mortal domain. Western Christendom had means to integrate all such tradition with its own feasts around All Saints Day, and the beginning of Allhallowtide (all per Britannica.com).

Think on that hollowed out message as pumpkin lights fade.

All Saints Day v | b | t

So what then of tomorrow? A new day. 1st November 2021 is when our leaders gather in Glasgow to debate our shared fate. To decide what traditions and behaviours we can all dare to change. What sacrifice we all must forsake. What future toil we all are prepared to make. Or what further study we sanction, for further visibility of unbelievable harm. What trusts we deny, and deem the next generation better placed to palm. What risk to the future generations of selves do we therein choose to pass on? What will we all opt out of a 26th time, at CoP26? Forsake, and in our place ask the yet born to take.

Trick or treat?

Treat – more than we can chew

We are now connected. Feasting as we go. All hungry caterpillars upon the one tree. Gestating today. Digesting our yesterday. Cocooning our decisions and letting loose butterfly effects we cannot rewind.

Trick – fooling all including ourselves

Maybe it is time to stop looking to others. Look again at our past, but think upon ourselves as a living influence to the next. The global village is now here whether we like it or not.

Can we look beyond greed?

What is at the heart of our project mission is the pursuit of more. Individually a greater share. But also collectively more for the earth to have to bare. And perhaps it is this that we all need to help stop.

My greed is good?

Adam Smith

Capitalists are not going to stop growing with individualist greed.

Adam Smith was about optimising the output from the land by the few. Labour a resource to factor into such process. The invisible hand that steers individualistic ambition to bring about trickle down growth for all. Nietzsche’s will of individual power.

Our greed is good?

Karl Marx

Communists are not going to stop growing with collectivist need.

The early Karl Marx was about addressing alienation. The hands of the worker having no ownership of what they make. Getting too little of what the few take. The effort of all, the land owned by none but the state. Trotsky’s power of shared will.

Green is good – less greed is better

My point here is not political. Other than to say all our politics, and the nation states that hold flavours of individualism or collectivism at the helm, all amount to more of the same.

Have this at the heart of what is visible. Of the finite resource there is, it is our nation states that must thrive. Regardless of culture and ethics, political sentiment, or personal faith, it is this fact that wills us all to claim a bigger stake. Determines how we each and all behave. Trust becomes easier offered, when yours is the whip hand to extend.

The Earth provides-enough to satisfy everyone’s needs but not any one’s greed

Ghandi

Think therefore upon each of the green solutions being presented. The ways we are being offered to change our behaviours, in all that we do. They each still equate to the same.

We are being shown how to consume more, but in cleaner ways.

Enough and no more

I am not sure any of us has the right to question the needs of another. But I do think we should be able to explain what it is that we need. And what it is we intend to do with what we have. Not in any draconian or anti-establishment way, or as naïve power of love simple life ways. Simply by the questions we ask of ourselves and of each other. And the messages we therein convey.

Some of these first steps then become a little easier. And meaningfully challenging to those that drive growth without consideration to wider cost. Those seem the simplest and easiest first steps for east and west. This is not about ownership and what we can have. This is about service to the future, and what we can be. Take what you need; to do with that what you must. But once you have got there, its time to give something back.

What we give back is time at the wheel – or that spare time is what each of us chooses to steal.

Our hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs explains this well enough. We all need to feed. We all need to breath. We then need safety. Then kinship and personal and societal esteem. Finally, however, we then want to be the best versions of what we can be.

We are many who now sit at this final impasse. This pinnacle of existence but declining to acknowledge that grasp. Instead we keep all. Claiming time left as our own. And taking all of that to the last. Our kinship is retained because we all do the same. We then look around and wonder who is to blame. Why our self-actualisation feels unreached, as hollow as the pumpkin on the doorstep.

The golden rule for all self-actualisation stewards

There seems a golden thread of truth running through our shared history. Requiring us all to consider life from the other side. Perhaps all of those messages combine, and stand now not just in place but also in time.

Ask not what other projects can do for you. Ask yourself what project you can now do for the whole

Globally said from a golden thread

These are then projects | within projects connecting each mind to the totality of our management. Management of the one project we are all now required to play our part.

v | b | t – ask better questions for more insight

In game theory there is a game called Tragedy of the Commons. In it we are each shown to take more from common ground than we should, because the rules said that we could. The game reflects low trust, and shared bad behaviour. The long-game sees us all lose.

The solution starts with checking our own behaviour. But then increasing visibility on the whole, so that all behaviour is seen. In open sight we become compelled to do right. Trust in the shared objective becomes the shared trust in us all. The more secrets we can keep, the more compelled each feels, and entitled to cheat.

Question yourself, and therein question all others

It seems to me clear, that any of us sitting near the top of a hierarchy of needs is required to justify our time. Whether you are a Jeff Bezos or a Sheikh, a pension pot aggregator, or an executive on the make, born of privilege or humble beginnings and self-made. As individuals or as nation states. There are questions we need to ask of ourselves. Towards what, is your next project’s aim? Are you playing more than a zero sum game?

Infinite complexity, ultimate simplicity

The human condition is complex beyond measure. The systems of organisation we represent, a multiple of the same. But at the core there is a simplicity. We are mortal. We are fragile. And we will each always want more.

On this Halloween night perhaps give an extended nod to our forbearers. A moment of thanks to the shared sacrifice all have so far made. But tomorrow, the day we can all be saints, perhaps we each take stock of our time, and no more.

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About Me

In psychology we are required to look beneath the mask. This blog series is attempting to unmask some hidden parts of projects to engender a more collaborative way.

Find my professional mask here: