From the Archives...

The Modern Attitude

[Matt Taylor Journal page 680, January 5, 1985, 7:24AM]
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

There is a modern attitude. This is made up of several parts. Chief among these is:

  • Only the material exists
  • One must be practical versus idealistic
  • The purpose of education is to get a job
  • Power over others is necessary to accomplish anything
  • That a CEO should get paid more than a librarian
  • That making money is the major measure of worth
  • That there is a scarcity of wealth, and some just cannot "make it"
  • That is it someone else's fault (or responsibility, etc.) and I cannot make a difference
  • That great precision & craft is not necessary in most things; "you have to compromise"
  • That spiritual is weak, soft; that physical is strong, hard, effective
  • That practical means short term expediency

This list could go on. These statements represent a set of ideas and perceptions. A set that acts as the hidden design assumption of our work and life. Assumptions that become self-fulfilling. All these assumptions become "true," all are false.

It is not the assumptions themselves--nor their truth or untruth--that is my concern here, but the "modern" attitude that gives rise to these assumptions, and in turn results from these assumptions. It is the self-perpetuating "closed loop" nature of this attitude on which I turn my focus. (see p 671, 29DEC84). The loop is self-reinforcing, that is: new events and ideas are interpreted from this old framework. It results in managers who think they have to make things happen rather than get out of the way and facilitate things happening. It results in the self-fulfilling prophecy of the U.S. and U.S.S.R called World War III.

We have discovered a way in a DesignShop® event to suspend and sometimes break this "closed loop." This allows a group to "think new"--sometimes for the first time. We--as yet--have not established a practice that does this in the everyday work environment. We must do this in 1985 with our client if our client is to successfully complete its transition. We have to understand that we are in a 365 day DesignShop process now--one that we cannot control but must learn to facilitate. We must understand the whole of the client and us our part wisely to facilitate needed change. We must attract the organization to our project management methods. But, above all, we must loosen the death grip that the industrial paradigm has on our client's corporate mind.

To do this we will have to manage the information through the circuit just as is done in a DesignShop process. We will have to build a black box, test it, and use it with feedback correcting our aim. We will have to build a shift paper point by point showing the specific shifts from the old paradigm to the new. We will have to model and test the assumptions on ourselves as we implement change.

Our input to and contact with the client's associates is very small compared to all the messages they get 24 hours a day--messages that reinforce the old paradigm. For us to be effective we must get our message(s) laser-like and aimed accurately at the key points. This includes yet goes beyond the intellectual content of our material; it goes beyond our facilitation & documentation of their work. This includes the total message of all of these function plus what we are. We must show them a high-performance organization of grounded, idealistic, practical, successful, happy individuals.

copyright 1985, MG Taylor Corporation. All rights reserved
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