[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] Indexes: Main | Date | Thread | Author

RE: [ba-unrev-talk] Re: Corporate Morality

What I have determined so far:
1) The situation is universal. William Livingston makes the point that when
you find a certain set of conditions exist regardless of time, location,
resources, culture, or any other variable that can be examined to explain
it, then there must be a control system in place. If there were no control
system, there would at least be random variations. His group has "war
stories" from all industries and cultures over several decades and they all
indicate that an organization will persist in behavior that is demonstrably
destroying it rather then make the cultural changes necessary to survive.
2) The tendency to follow authority as shown in the experiments with
delivering pain to subjects results in cultures that don't question why
things are the way they are or how they could be different.
3) People respond to the actual rewards within the system rather than what
words are spoken. When management says one thing and rewards something
different, what is rewarded is what gets done. As a result, individual
initiative is seldom rewarded, and when that initiative threatens to change
things, it is actively resisted. This means that for the most part, change
in organizations happens from the top down and is linked to changes in both
explicit and implicit reward systems.
4) The stated goals of organizations are generally in terms of accomplishing
some set of tasks and improving in the ability to do them. Individuals
mostly just want to continue to play the game - to come to work, do what
they have been doing, and get paid. So long as that happens, most people are
content with their current level of ability. Getting better at what they do
can cause conditions to change or is inhibited by the people around them not
being able to handle the improvement, and therefore improvement beyond a
certain level gets punished rather than rewarded by the culture. In some
cases this is explicit - "slow down, you'll make the rest of us look bad."
5) Tendencies and predispositions that operate below the level of awareness
and uniformly do not get recognized. This is the fish in water problem -
mostly people are not aware of any signal that is constant and omnipresent.
Whether these predispositions are genetic as "The Blank Slate" contends, the
result of past lives and karma as some new age thought contends, or the
result of ideas that just get "soaked up" from the environment, the result
is the same - people have many activities that they perform with no
conscious awareness, that were never "thought out," but just grew to be that
way. It is difficult to think about something that you don't even perceive.
6) Very few people know how to think or reason. Most of those who can and
will think do so in at most a small area of their lives. Reason doesn't
convince most people of anything. As a result, we form relationships and
organizations with no idea of what we are doing or what mechanisms are at
work. We have never developed any real technology for forming and operating
groups above the clan level. Trying to run a huge corporation in the same
way as a clan in an environment which is subject to market forces is a
recipe for disaster. However, we do not even recognize that there is a
subject there that needs to be studied. Look at the work Stafford Beer did
on the "Viable Systems Model" for some idea of what sorts of design elements
go into structuring any system so that it can survive.
7) We are never really taught how to think or to reason. Our educational
system is as lost as all other large organizations. As a result of having no
stated goal and no technology for evaluating how well they are performing in
achieving that goal (achievement not being part of what the individuals want
nor what the system rewards), they are as big a disaster as any other large
organization. The result is that most of the real achievers are
"undereducated" by current standards. The student who survives a complete
course of modern education with any of the original joy of learning or even
the native ability to think is rare indeed. The system seems to destroy what
most people had to begin with.
8) Since none of these issues are perceived as problems to be solved, there
is never anybody seriously studying the questions. Instead, each group
starts with some notion of how the world works that has never been verified
against the reality of human nature, and decides how thing could be. Nearly
every one of them is wrong. The idea, for example, that a million
non-thinking people can arrive at better solutions than a few very
intelligent, thinking people who study the issues seriously is simply silly.
When we start with such ideas in the face of obvious facts such as the one
that says that only a small percentage of any group such as this one even
participate much less contribute, it is no wonder that we have difficulties.
When your basic notions of the way the world works fail to match the way the
world *really* works, you are doomed to get nothing but unworkable answers.
When you believe that there is no such thing as the "way the world *really*
works," you have no way to proceed. Every utopian ideal is based on some
notion of a change in the nature of human beings to be more as the author
would like them to be instead of their being the way they are. As such, they
are based on false-to-fact assumptions and are doomed to failure from the
9) Once ideas polarize, there is no way to uncover the truth. If your ideas
fail to support one side or the other, both sides will attack you instead of
only one. This is additionally hampered by the belief in, and the search
for, some ultimate or absolute truth. We are finite beings of finite
capacity. Since recognizing an *ultimate* truth requires knowing that it can
*never* be shown to be wrong by future evidence, such recognition would
require total knowledge. The very best we can hope to do is to develop
theories and hypotheses that correctly explain the maximum amount of what we
can align with the world around us, and then work to improve those ideas by
seeking out the boundaries where they fail and modifying the ideas. This
means that we need to develop some real understanding of the so-called
"soft" sciences, since that is where the problems with individuals, groups,
organizations, and cultures are to be found. At our present state of
understanding, even the attempt to formulate appropriate questions is
attacked by various forms of "political correctness," depending on which
power elite get to say what is "politically correct" in any specific area.
This happens every bit as much in areas that are considered to be scientific
as it does in areas considered to be non-scientific.    (01)

>From the above it should be clear that the entire area is in a stage of
complexity, indicating that there is no clear understanding of how it all
works.    (02)

This leads me to the multi-part question that I formulated in my teens and
am still working on:
* What constitutes rationality, how can it be recognized, how can we know
when we are becoming more rational rather than less? What is the place of
emotions and other "non-rational" human characteristics in rationality? This
needs to be formulated in a way that can garner at least some level of
* How can an adult who chooses to do so become more rational over time, and
know that he is making progress? Unless we can get partial answers to this
question, there is no real method of achieving individual improvement.
* How can we raise children so that they stand a better chance of being more
rational than their parents and teachers? The goal is independent thinkers
who can function better in the world than we did. This is the basis of
improvement for the group. We need to teach what we believe we know lest the
students lose the benefit of what has gone before, but they need to be able
to question what they have been taught when it fails to match the "real"
world. To be able to question intelligently rather than just out of
contrariness is a fine line to walk. To be sufficiently independent not to
accept the statement of eminent authority without question while still being
able to cooperate with others in the furtherance of mutual goals is another
fine line.
* How does the organization and presentation of information support the
above? It is clear that some organizations transfer information (knowledge,
wisdom, etc.) better than others, and that an individual must be able to
organize the results of his study in order to do a credible job of
formulating his own beliefs and validating them against his experience and
that of others. This also requires that he be able to walk the paths that
"common knowledge" believes to be dead ends. This is to keep him from making
the same errors or to enable him to question the premises and reasoning
leading to the conclusion that they are dead ends, since not everything that
is called a dead end is in fact one when more information or a different
perspective is available. This is where my passion for tools that support
the individuals ability to organize his own information comes from -
individuals make up groups, and trying to change groups without changing
individuals is a fool's errand. Individuals need to be able to examine their
beliefs and behaviors, understand them, attain mastery of them, and then be
able to perform them unconsciously as a result of mastery rather than lack
of awareness. They must be able to notice when that they do or believe no
longer serves them and to take conscious control to change them.    (03)

I know this is another "tome", but you asked :-)>    (04)

Thanks,    (05)

Garold (Gary) L. Johnson    (06)

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-ba-unrev-talk@bootstrap.org
[mailto:owner-ba-unrev-talk@bootstrap.org]On Behalf Of Peter Jones
Sent: Saturday, September 21, 2002 4:37 AM
To: ba-unrev-talk@bootstrap.org
Subject: Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Re: Corporate Morality    (07)

Great post again. I particularly liked the bridge building analogy.    (08)

> I have been interested for many years in determining how it is that a
> or organization can make decisions and implement policies or practices
> none of its members would consider as individuals.    (09)

That sounds important. Any interesting findings to date?    (010)

I dipped into a book about political economy the other day. From the passage
read it was clear that there was a conflict between what was considered the
optimal economic policy and the political constraints surrounding it. I
get as far as finding out exactly what the author meant by political
I've bought the book, now I just need to find time to read it.    (011)

Peter    (012)