Motto: On the Sixth Day, God saw everything that He had made, and He saw that it was good, and He said, "Let there be Murphy."Robert Brault
Today I invite you to look upon another potential root of the current crisis – the Controller.
I will start by nominating generically the four basic pillars of any controlling system: 1/ ‘the object’ (that can be also a ‘subject’), 2/ ‘the current status’, 3/ ‘the desired status’ and 4/ ‘the (corrective) action’. The process is of course cyclical, that means that after 4/ we revert to 1/ and so on, hopefully not in flat circles but in progressive spirals. The Controller is then the entity (person, organization, machine etc.) that focuses on a chosen object /subject, has a clear understanding of how it should look like (or function / perform i.e. what the desired result should be), determines how it actually looks like (functions / performs …) and takes corrective action to channel the existing status closer to the desired status.
As you may have guessed from the Motto, I would say that the First Controller appears to have been in all religions and cultures of divine nature. And it proved to be quite efficient, as it was quite well complementing with the best Protector ever - which seems to be our own internal fear.
Anyway, the controlling process seems simple, logical and achievable. To translate it into even simpler reality, let’s take the example of boiling an egg. The cook is the controller. The purpose of the controlling process is to result in a properly boiled egg (depending on the eating preference, it could mean hard-boiled or soft-boiled, with a certain level of softness). For implementing the process we have an egg, a cooking recipient, salt and water, and a heat source. First execution – the egg does not come as desired (either too soft or too hard). Corrective action: take another egg and adjust the process. For example if you tried boiling it in a frying pan you may notice that the egg is not properly covered with water and thus the result is … half yach! If you missed the salt it may happen that the egg brakes in the process so again you have a failure (unpleasant shape). And so on, until the Controller gets it right and obtains the desired result.
As you probably can imagine, I have no intention to blame improper boiling of eggs in the contemporary Europe for the current crisis, so let’s move on. To get to the point of current posting, I will have to take you back a little, to ‘Roots III - the Provider’. I was telling you last year that I believe the perception of State as the ultimate Provider is partially responsible for the moral decay and consequently the systemic crisis we face today. As opposed to previous perception of Family and Community as basic Provider.
Regarding the function of Controller in the contemporary society, the message I want to share with you is more or less the same. We seem to have lost, as society, our self-consciousness, self-control over an ancient set of rules, morality and common sense. I will use today more quotes than usual, for the simple reason that they reflect very well this message and I wish to point out that “we”, in our collective wisdom, previously knew what was good for us, but somehow lost focus in the last years.
‘Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one’ / Chinese Proverb
‘Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that's right is to get by, and the only thing that's wrong is to get caught.’ /J.C. Watts
We have delegated the Controlling function to external bodies which, in our turn, we cannot control. We see now that they do not even prove real understanding for the object (or subject) which they are supposed to control. They cannot set a reasonable course for the desired status or even for properly determining what the existing status is. We are flooded by probabilities, statistical data and averages that usually look as ‘real’ as this:
The average human has one breast and one testicle / Des McHale
We are however controlled in other ways, which we do not require or even expect, such as through behavioral, chemical, genetic manipulation. Even the classic marketing has turned into an instrument of mass manipulation, in the age of Moneyteism and Consumerism.
The world has currently billions of systems functioning in parallel and at the same time interacting with each other, making it impossible to the mortal soul to see ‘the big image’ anymore. Base processes and systems are increasingly complex and efficient, and at the same time their controlling complements evolve into dangerously sophisticated ones. The problem with such systems is that they do not have intuition, morale, they cannot act on hunch and cannot see when there are scammed in a non-conventional way. Everybody that gets a fair knowledge of how the system is operated can then easily cheat both the system and its controls.
Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively / Dalai Lama
Unfortunately, this applies to all kinds of systems – both real physical systems (such as IT, machinery, technology, physics, bio-chemistry, and so on), but also about financial and taxation systems, social welfare and education, health and culture, legal and enforcement systems etc. The main question that should be raised now is how accurate and appropriate are the connectors between the base systems, the controllers, the protectors and the decision-makers.
What seems to linger in the recent months on the financial and political scene is exactly a proper understanding of the object of the controlling process. The world leaders seem to fail to determine the very nature of the problems, in order to produce a reasonable solution or at least initiate steps in a reasonable direction. Perhaps this is also part of the failure equation: given current transparency and media exposure, too many minds are focused at the same time on too many big problems. Previously such crisis were handled by a handful of people behind closed doors. Then the implementation was rather straight forward, as the systems were simpler and easier to handle, without collateral damage on other unforeseen aspects.
On the other hand, not too many people appear to be working on small problems in good faith, with professionalism and enthusiasm. There is a great expectation placed on the generic systems, on the social and financial mechanisms, on the government intervention tools. People seem to have lost interest in doing their own ordinary daily jobs; they prefer to focus on debating and worrying how to solve the world’s global problems.
When, how and why did this happen?
Well… it really seems childish to imagine that humanity could have been spared of overheating and miscommunication. When I was a child, we used to play a funny game called “wireless phone” (yes, in the ‘70s!... ). We were sitting in circle and one of the kids would start the communication by whispering something in the ear of the one sitting next to him/her. The recipient was then whispering to the next one and so on, until the last person in the circle was saying out loud the final message. We had such fun with this game, because it was always a huge difference between initial and final message.
Same breakdown in communication happened to the world and its controlling patterns. Understanding the object / subject of the controlling process is getting more difficult, the statistical measurements sometimes cannot transpose (or may even distort) the reality, the forecasting models seldom have the strength to actually predict future evolutions. With current stage of globalization even the simple translation of the same piece of legislation across different languages and cultures is sometime an insurmountable hurdle. More economists are channeling attention to behavioral economics, in an attempt to improve the predictability power of their models. On the other end of the process, the corrective measures are not restrained to the processes which they aim to improve, but are increasingly impacting on related processes - chain effects difficult to anticipate.
With very new episode of Roots that I put down on the screen, I am starting to question the very idea that we are living a ‘crisis’. I have actually begun to wonder if we are not experiencing a purely systemic change, the beginning of a new global order, which we should embrace and adapt to it. As such, we can start seeking in this new context our own path to happiness and peace, health and prosperity. We can take small but steady steps toward improvement of our microenvironment, within the limits of decency and common sense. This was the message I took with me from my last visit home, as a Christmas gift from my sister. She has been walking already this path for a while and is happy with her choice.
And … ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito’ (Dalai Lama).
Therefore, I will extend above invitation to all my friends, in the beginning of this year. Re-shift your full attention to your own business – on both personal and professional level. Stop trying to solve the global problems of this world, focus instead on controlling your own circle of influence, providing for your own family and support your small close community. Take the necessary steps to improve what you can and prepare yourself for doing this without help from external providential Providers or Controllers. I also give you a strong tool for problem solving, that is available through the generosity, wisdom and lifetime experience of our blog host –Peter.
And I will compliment that with another quote / rule:
Rule #1: Use your good judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules.
(Nordstrom's Employee Handbook)
Take care, be good and allow yourself to be happy in 2012!