Sunday, 3 August 2014

eZine #55 - True Dialogue--The Only True Path to Peace

An ancient Indian folk tale explains how we each have different perceptions of the world. Some Hindus had brought an elephant for exhibition and placed it in a dark house. Six men, who had never seen an elephant, went into that dark place, one at a time, to see the elephant. Finding that in the darkness, visual inspection was impossible, they felt it with their hands. 
 
On coming out, each explained to the others:
  • The palm of the first fell on the trunk. "This creature is like a snake," he said.
  • The hand of the second lighted on an elephant’s ear. "Oh no," he exclaims, "It's like a large leaf."
  • The third man felt a leg. "I found the elephant’s shape is like a tree," he said.
  • The fourth caught hold of its tail, "Nonsense, an elephant is just like a rope."
  • The fifth man placed his hands on the side of the beast, "It's just like a brick wall," he said.
  • The last man, feeling a tusk, asserts, "You are all wrong, it's like a sharp spear!"

Moral of the Story...
No one sees anything from all points of view.
Only through sharing points of view,
can we come close to "seeing" the whole.

Each of us has a unique view of the world which includes a set of beliefs about the nature of the world in which we live. Beliefs about:
  • The nature of human relationships (hierarchical, collaborative, individual),
  • The nature of human nature (evil, mixed, good),
  • The nature of human activity (being, becoming, doing),
  • The nature of our time sense (past, present, future),
  • The nature of our relationship with the environment (subordinate to nature, harmony with nature, dominant over nature). etc.
These beliefs structure our view of the world. In turn, our personal world-view gives rise to a unique set of personal value priorities. The reverse is also true. Knowing a person's value priorities, makes it possible to gain insights into how a person views the world.
 
Only through true dialogue, in a genuine effort to understand each other's worldview (i.e. understand why they see what we each see and why we each believe what we believe), can we create a peaceful world.
 

 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

eZine #54 - When Your Worldview Changes, Your Priority Values Change

[This was originally published in 2010 as an article in the The Values Journal. The Values Journal seems to have vanished from the web so I decided to republish it as an eZine.]


The values we hold as a priority are sourced in our worldview. As the diagram below shows, many things shape our worldview.

 

Of all the influences, a significant emotive event (emotion), has perhaps the most dramatic impact on one's worldview. For example, when I was 46 (I'm 67 now), my 43 year old brother John was told he had cancer--twelve weeks later he was dead! Like myself, John had a wife and two young boys. John had spend the past few years putting study ahead of most everything else, and had recently graduated with his Masters Degree. In other words, just as John was ready to start being there with his family after having sacrificed so much in order to get his degree, he was taken from us. How did this significant emotive event impact on my worldview?  Well as you can imagine, I began seeing how fragile life was and realised I too may die any day. The way my worldview changed is summed up nicely by the following two quotes:

"One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure its worth watching." [anon.]

"People in the West are always getting ready to live." [Chinese proverb]

It was time for me to start living!

When the Collective Worldview of People in Society Changes, Society's Priority Values Change

For the past 22 years, the Minessence Group have been monitoring people's priority values. Following September 11, 2001 we observed a global shift in priority values. That the shift which occurred was so dramatic, meant September 11 was a global significant emotive event which had resulted in a global collective worldview change. The charts below show the shifts in value priorities which occurred as a result of these worldviews changes:

Following September 11 people placed significantly higher priority on Self-Preservation and Security than anytime in the ten years before the event. A shift in people's worldview to one of fear and uncertainty would explain the increased priority on Self-Preservation and Security. Interestingly, in 2006, people's Self-Preservation and Security priorities returned to their pre-September 11 levels suggesting people were no longer "buying" the politically driven worldview of fear.

September 11 seems to have caused an irreversible change in people's worldview. Initially, the priority people were placing on Family/Belonging values was significantly higher than anytime before September 11. This is possibly explained by people turning to family, and relationships with others, to give them the security and certainty in life which September 11 temporarily took away from them. However, since the start of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008, people began reducing their priority on family and friends, once again turning to the demands of the organization. Though on this latter point, since September 11, people have been placing a higher priority on Self-Actualisation values. This would suggest they are seeking, not just any work, but work which makes their life meaningful.

Despite my analysis, I must stress that, from looking at person's value priorities one cannot tell what is going on inside a their head--that would be mind reading. However, knowing people's priority values gives you a very powerful tool to guide the questions you ask.

"The hallmark of a good leader is the quality of the questions they ask." [Brian Hall]

 


Paul Chippendale, Director of the Minessence Group, has for the past 27 years specialised in developing technologies to support people working with values for personal, couple, team, organisational and societal development. He is the author of several books and academic papers, a Blogger, publisher, researcher, software engineer and keen athlete.

 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

eZine #53 - Leadership in the 21st century

There has been much written about leadership over the years, including my Transformative Leadership Model. Here's a TED video "Leadership for the 21st Century", Roselinde Torres which I believe makes a significant contribution.

As usual, I'm keen to receive your comments, Paul.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

eZine #52 - Valuing support: culture and practice in a person-centred organisation

Thanks to the initiative and hard work of Louise Barry, Merseyside Disability Federation; Jackie le Fevre of Magma Effect Ltd; David Pilgrim, University of Liverpool; Serena Rossiney, University of Liverpool; we have added a new research article to our website.

Abstract

Against a back drop of ongoing reform of health and adult social care in “austere” economic conditions much of the rhetoric in England from politicians, statutory bodies and commissioners appears to focus upon what can not be done and what is “wrong”. Using a case study of a provider of independent living support services, we present a snap shot of what is possible and what can go “right”. Through triangulating the lived experiences of individual disabled people, the personal values prioritised by trustees and staff who support those people and an employee engagement survey we describe the functioning of a medium sized voluntary sector social care organisation. Drawing upon our findings we suggest that, even at a time of significant resource constraint, person-centred practice delivered through a consciously values aligned culture is not an impossible dream but an achievable goal. 

You will find the research paper listed athttp://www.minessence.net/articles/Articles.aspx

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

eZine #51 - Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives

Haidt in The Righteous Mind, identifies five moral dimensions which are characteristic of human behaviour:

  1. Care/Harm - evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of caring for vulnerable children. It makes us sensitive to signs of suffering and need; it makes us despise cruelty and want to care for those who are suffering.
  2. Fairness/Cheating - evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of reaping the rewards of cooperation without getting exploited. It makes us sensitive to indications that another person is likely to be a good (or bad) partner for collaboration and reciprocal altruism. It makes us shun or punish cheaters.
  3. Loyalty/Betrayal - evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of forming and maintaining coalitions. It makes us sensitive that another person is (or is not) a team player. It makes us trust and reward such people, and makes us want to hurt, ostracize, or even kill those who betray us or our group.
  4. Authority/Subversiveness - evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of forging relationships that will benefit us within social hierachies. It makes us sensitive to signs of rank or status, and to signs that other people are (or are not) behaving properly, given their position.
  5. Sanctity/Degradation - evolved in response to the adaptive challenge of the omnivore's dilemma, and then to the broader challenge of living in a world of pathogens and parasites. It includes the behavioural immune system, which makes us wary of a diverse array of symbolic objects and threats. It makes it possible for people to invest objects with irrational and extreme values - both positive and negative - which are important for binding groups together.

Haidt  discovered liberals (progressives) higher positive rank on the first 2, and conservatives on the last 3.

For an explanation of Haidt five-dimension model of moral preferences, see his TED talk:

There is strong convergence of Haidt's work with that of our Transformational Leadership model. Both Haidt's an our model point to the fact that real change can only occur when there is effective dialogue between those people who prefer structure, certainty and comfort and those people who prefer change, uncertainty and blind trust.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

eZine #50 - Transformative Leadership

 

Transformative leadership is a team effort. It requires constructive dialogue between Transactional leaders (the implementers) and Visionary leaders (the dreamers).  It's through the dialogue between these two groups that a new tacit worldview emerges. So who are the Visionary Leaders, and who are the transactional leaders?       

     From when we are born our interaction with the world around us stimulates our brain. We quickly begin to develop preferences for some forms of stimulation over others. By late adolescence these preferences are virtually "set in concrete" and we have developed a preference for one of four ways of relating to the world around us: things-abstract, concrete-things, concrete-people, or people-abstract. Below, each of these four ways of dialoguing with reality are briefly described along with preferred leadership modus operandi.

Things-Abstract [Technical Architect]

These are people who have a preference for using their hands to "tinker" with or to create things and to use their intellect to develop models or plans. They rely mostly on discovering things about the world through thinking about it and intellectually analysing it. They prefer to gather information visually. They are the "accidental leaders" because they will often create a technology which everyone else wants. People such as Bill Gates and the inventor of Facebook are examples. People with this brain-preference are not particularly interested in politics, they are the "corporatists" and would be quite comfortable living a totally privatized world.           
     Those who belong to this brain-preference will be seen as visionary leaders if people like the technology they have created.

Things-Concrete [Quality Producer/Crafts Person]

These are "hands on" people who like certainty and like activities/organisations to be well structured. They prefer things to be down-to-earth rather than abstract and intangible. People with this preference may be athletes, mechanics, surgeons, gardeners, accountants, farmers, etc. They will prefer a political party which gives them certainty and a sense of security. They will also prefer a party which is conservative in its policies rather than one which comes up with innovative new (never-tried-before) policy.
     These people can be fabulous transactional leaders. Those who are masters of their craft will be sought out to teach others the best way to perform their chosen occupation.

Concrete-People [People Servants]

As with the Quality Producers, People Servants like structure. However, their preference is for spending time with and talking to people, rather than relating to the world of non-human things. They will choose careers as school teachers, actors, ethicists, priests/nuns, public servants, value consultants, etc. They will also prefer a party which is somewhat conservative in its policies, however, they will put people ahead of balancing the budget. So, if their party spends too much money on welfare (i.e. caring for those who can't care for themselves), their party will probably be voted out of office and a party supported by the Quality Producers will be voted back in on the promise of spending cuts to bring the budget back into surplus.
People Servants are great facilitators, they are key to facilitating the oft difficult dialogue between the Visionary Leaders and the Transactional Leaders. Without this dialogue transformation is not possible. Understanding the worldviews and values of each group is essential to facilitating effective dialogue.

People-Abstract [Social Architects]

The Social Architects, like the People Servants, prefer the world of people to the world of non-human things. Social Architects are comfortable functioning in a world of uncertainty--in fact it's their preference--too much of the "same old, same old" and they get bored. Social Architects like to create models to understand how people behave, they like designing new social systems. They are the "greens", social-ecologists, social-activists, social scientists, social policy planners, etc. in our society.
     These people are potential Visionary Leaders in respect of societal and/or organisational change. As with the facilitators, to be effective as a visionary leader they must be able to gain rapport with those the desire to influence. Remember, the key is to change is firstly gaining real rapport with people. And, for genuine rapport to exist, people must really know that you are able to see the world through their eyes and therefore understand what they have the values they have.
 
*     *     *     *
In the video below, Matthew Taylor describes just how essential to our future are the coexistence of structure (maintaining world-views/transactional leadership), commitment and cohesiveness (the facilitative leader/mediator),  and innovation (visionary leadership).
 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

eZine #49 - The Entropy Paradox

Nobel Prize physicist Erwin Schrödinger wrote a book in 1944 with the title What is Life? It has been described as one of the most influential books in the history of science. Its object was to investigate the extent to which life could be accounted for in terms of physics and chemistry, despite our 'obvious inability' to define life. He had tow themes--'order from disorder' and 'order from order'. Order from disorder emphasised that life fed on negative entropy, which is a way of saying that whereas the universe as a whole is becoming less ordered (positive entropy) life creates greater order (negative entropy). This is not an exception to the rule of the universe for the rule simply states that, whereas the universe as a whole is running down, there are enclaves where the opposite may happen and one such enclave is human organisms. There is nothing mysterious about this. Living organisms get their energy to do this from the sun. The sun's energy is trapped by plants. Animal get their energy from feeding on plants...
     Schrödinger's second principle 'order from order' was about how information was passed from generation to generation by genes. he predicted the general nature of the gene more than a decade before the structure of DNA was understood. [Birch 1999, p. 4]

Entropy is the only quantity in the physical sciences that requires a particular direction for time, sometimes called an arrow of time. As one goes "forward" in time, the second law of thermodynamics says, the entropy of an isolated system will increase. Hence, from one perspective, entropy measurement is a way of distinguishing the past from the future. However in thermodynamic systems that are not closed, entropy can decrease with time: many systems, including living systems, reduce local entropy at the expense of an environmental increase, resulting in a net increase in entropy. Examples of such systems and phenomena include the formation of certain crystals, the workings of a refrigerator and living organisms. [source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_(arrow_of_time)]

Since entropy is the measure of disorder, we can easily create a relative measure of it for any group of people for “equal priority = no priority = chaos = high entropy”, conversely "strong & clear priorities = strong focus = well-defined values-system (strange-attractor) = understandable order = low entropy". This means all we have to to measure the relative entropy of groups, is to undertake an analysis of their value priorities. High group priorities and only a few  values will be low entropy and a well focused group. Low group priorities and a large number of shared priorities means high entropy and a low focused group. 

The diagram below shows the life-cycle of an organisation or group of people:

OrgLifeCycle

Figure 1. Group/Organisational Lifecycle

  1. At foundation and boom, entropy is low because shared values are few and priorities are high—strong norms which guide behaviour  will emerge
  2. In the period of decline,  entropy becomes higher and higher because shared values become many and their collective priorities are low—a state of anomie exists when norms break down-- many people are doing their own thing—the organisation/group is becoming chaotic
  3. The group/organisation's only chance of surviving and again becoming successful is to rebuild a robust values-system (strange-attractor)--when this is in place the entropy will again be low.

Keeping track of group/organisation's entropy is a way of keeping track of the group/organisation's health. When entropy starts to rise, alarm bells should be ringing.

The Entropy Paradox

While it's important for an organisation's entropy to be low. For individuals, growth depends on them following a regular entropy cycle as depicted in Figure 2.  The top of the diagram represents a person working from their primary brain-preference modes. Here they are most competent and dependable. However, if they never engage the other parts of their brain their development will be stunted. It is important that everyone in the organisation is given the freedom and encouragement to undertake fun activities matching their least brain preference on a regular basis 9at least two hours per week). This will unlock their creativity, and lead to holistic brain development--i.e. their brain becomes more complex, and though they are cycling through low to high entropy, in the long run their brain entropy will be decreasing. Hence the paradox, people need to feed off periods of chaotic fun activities (high entropy) in order to be more creative, more sophisticated (low entropy) individuals.

entropy.png

Figure 2. Entropy Cycle

in summary, people have to be given their space, time & freedom in organisations so they can have fun in their creative mode—the saying, "All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull boy/girl” turns out to be a key principle behind personal development. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his video, http://www.minessence.net/presentations/Happiness.aspx,  gives a few good examples of people who have this freedom. The Australian movie The Dish also gives a good example of an organisation which is maximally effective and successful because its people are continually moving through the entropy cycle.

Entropy should not be a static measurement, rather the conditions should be set so that people can cycle through it. A good  measure which shows if an organisation is “ripe” for  enabling this cycle to exist in an organisation is the leisure/pleasure score in the diagram below:

CFM

Figure 3. The Cultural Field Map

An organisation with a low or zero leisure/pleasure score and a high control/order score would be a low entropy (i.e. orderly and boring) organisation. On the other hand, an organisation with a moderately high leisure/pleasure score and a low control/order score would be an even lower-entropy organisation yet be a fun creative place to work, provided it has a clearly defined values/vision/mission statement based on its people own values, and, encourages teams with a diversity of brain-preference to engage in regular creative mode activities.  It has a lower-entropy than the highly controlled no-fun organisation because it is more complex/sophisticated in its operation--you could say, it's more alive!  The Chaordic Model (Figure 4), in conjunction with the values alignment model of Figure 5,  are designed to create such an organisation.

 

Chaordic

Figure 4. The Chaordic Model of Organisational Development

1234

Figure 5. Organisational Alignment Model

To create a low-entropy high performing organisation, each person and each group in the organisation must give attention to:

  • Concretization. Concretizing their top 10 priority values (using techniques such as: asking VAK questions about each value, concept mapping, and/or Repertory Grid).  "Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." - Carl Jung
  • Purpose. Having regard any published organisational values, formulate personal and group values, vision and mission statements. Make statements which are uplifting and motivating. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." - Proverbs 29:18
  • Will. Each person reflects on their foundation and vision values, and brain-preference. Vision values motivate so, "Will this organisation enable you to be passionate about and motivated by your vision values?" Foundation values can demotivate if they are not satisfied so, "Do you have strategies and skills in place that turn these values into a solid foundation rather than an achilles heel?" "In this organisation/group, are you able to focus mainly on tasks which match your work-mode brain-preferences and priority values?"
  • "How do your top 10 values compare to your group/organisation's top 10 values?" "What common ground do you see?" "If your values are markedly different to the group/organisation's values, can you see a way you could happily live your own values whilst at the same contributing to the group/organisation's values?"  "How does the group energy management profile compare with your personal profile?"
  • Capability. "Do all in our group have the skills, resources and abilities to live our values in our workplace?" SQ = Spiritual Intelligence, EQ = Emotional Intelligence and IQ = intelectual intelligence, "Do we have the knowledge to develop these intelligences within our group?" The group skills profile indicates the skills needs of each group based on the values they all have. "What are the implications of this profile for our group?"
The above program works, and it works very well, because it creates low entropy organisation--i.e. an organisation with a strong values-system (strange attractor) sourced in its people's actual values--self-organisation does the rest.