Friday, 18 November 2011

Embrace complexity, it's the key to growth.

A complex world is what we are familiar with. Complexity is normal. It is something we we have grown to respect. We stand in awe of nature's complexity, from the function of the human body to the incomprehensible marvels of microscopic particles...We fail when we confuse "complexity" with "complication"  To messy minds, complicated things are much easier to construct than complex orderly structures. [Nader, pp. 331-332]

Some tips for embracing complexity from Seth Godin:
"The answer is simple" ...is always more effective a response than, "well, it's complicated."
One challenge analysts face is that their answers are often a lot more complicated than the simplistic (and wrong) fables that are peddled by those that would mislead and deceive. Same thing is true for many non-profits doing important work.
We're not going to have a lot of luck persuading masses of semi-interested people to seek out and embrace complicated answers, but we can take two steps to lead to better information exchange:
  1. Take complicated overall answers and make them simple steps instead. Teach complexity over time, simply.
  2. Teach a few people, the committed, to embrace the idea of complexity. That's what a great college education does, for example. That's what makes someone a statesman instead of a demagogue. Embracing complexity is a scarce trait, worth acquiring. But until your customers/voters/employees do, I think the first strategy is essential.
 You can't sell complicated to someone who came to you to buy simple.


Happiness ensues when we take on ever more challenge,
with commensurate skills development,
whilst living our own values.

Reference
Nader. J. 1999, HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & INFURIATE PEOPLE: A CONTROVERSIAL book for thinkers, Plutonium, NSW, Australia.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Nothing Will Ever Change Until There's a Change of Worldview

...to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motor cycle because it is a system is to attack the effects rather than the causes; and as long as the attack is upon its effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government, but the systemic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There is so much talk about the system and so little understanding. [Emphasis added] (Robert Pirsig, 1974, p. 94)
For change to occur, people need to make different choices in familiar situations. Since values lie behind all our choices, this means people need to undergo a values shift. For a values shift to occur, people's world-view must change. The diagram below shows the main things which shape a person's world-view:



The fastest way of shifting people's world-view is through deliberately provoking a "significant emotive event"--brain washing techniques are an extreme example of this. If you think people would never resort to these techniques, think again! The question we must ask is, are techniques which deliberately provoke "significant emotive events", ethical?
The debate around this issue could rage on for years, however, the debate can be completely side stepped. How? Well it turns out that, though creating significant emotive events is a very effective way of modifying a person's world-view, those provoking the event have no control whatsoever over how the person's world-view will change. If you cannot control the outcome, then what's the point of employing the technique?
How can one be so sure that you cannot control the outcome? It's a basic principle of chaos theory. When you provoke a significant emotive event in a person's life, you create a bifurcation in their meaning-system (i.e. the way they'd made sense of the world until that point in time is broken down--bifurcated!). The brain's system of making sense of the world--it's meaning system--is as about as complex as system as you can get --in fact it might very well be the most complex system in the universe. Chaos theory tells us that when a bifurcation occurs in any complex non-linear system (not just the most complex in the universe) no one can predict the outcome.


So this means, if you deliberately provoke a significant emotive event in a person's life in order to impact on their world-view, you have no control over, nor any way of predicting, what new world-view they will have after the event--how useless then is this as a technique make any change?
What does work as both an effective and an ethical means of world-view modification? The answer: "Use a combination of dialogue, experiential learning, and structural change."
The key to change is gaining real rapport with people. For genuine rapport to exist, people must really know that you are able to see the world through their eyes and thus understand why they have the value priorities they have.


Change = Rapport + Information


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