Sunday, February 2, 2014

Why Do Management Consultants (& electorates) End Up Teaching (& accepting) The Opposite Of What They Practice?

As Walter Shewhart noted, 88 years ago, management consultants most often fail because they are hired BY executives, to help executives succeed, not BY aggregates, to make aggregates succeed. Walter formally touted the inherent advantage of controlling NET cultural process through dialectic or "context" modeling, rather than only the systemically unproductive ramblings of embarrassingly superficial "capitalist" ideologies. Walter Shewhart coined the phrase "process control" to define the ancient concept he advised us to spend far more time practicing and refining.

Not enough people listened to Shewhart. W.E. Deming spent most of his life simply trying to promote Shewhart's straightforward insights. Others from Toyota Corp to John Boyd applied Shewhart's concepts to specific industries and disciplines. Even today, however, not enough people listen to Shewhart's basic message.

As a result, simply to get paid, the typical management (executive) consultant ends up being dragged into over-training the ambition, grasp and ambition of a "leader" to think FOR their aggregate ... 
instead of ... 
getting transient_context delegates practice at the aggregate's greatest need and a delegated_leader's greatest value: constantly getting an aggregate more practice at running on auto-pilot, and not systemically failing the instant a supposed "leader" has a day of downtime (and isn't there to try to think FOR the aggregate).

And all the while, all of us - even (most) capitalists - admit that none of us is as smart as all of us.

You really couldn't make this up. It's all a cosmic joke on the entire Group-Intelligence of homo sapiens.

How do even supposed experts end up trapped in this way, teaching by default the very inverse of what they were forced, kicking and screaming, to practice, just in order to survive? In effect, we all make little compromises, accept lying to ourselves, and slowly become little Benedict Arnold's, just to avoid being cast aside, as aggregates lurch between continuous firefighting. As a consequence of endless firefighting mode, we tend to accept the myth that delegating management of EVERY succeeding context to a presumed "context-expert" or "process-owner" actually helps. It is NEVER that simple. If it were, the entire paradigm of social species would not work. Instead, we'd be dissociable machines, instead of incredibly densely_engineered works of social art.

Why do we persist in misunderstanding ourselves? Largely because we tend to over-focus on immediate (quarterly?) context, while missing the overwhelming truth, that ongoing reality transects multiple, transient contexts? We are all victims of our own, bad habit, distributed across individuals and aggregate. Is the Fallacy of Scale (or composition) always the chief failure that prevents aggregates of intelligent people from coalescing into a Group Intelligence greater than the sum of it's parts? Is sure seems to be, at least for now.

Yet simultaneously, we all readily admit that even war is too important to be left to the Generals!

In reality, every process is too important to be left to the presumed process owners. Again, you really couldn't make this up. We're playing a stupid joke on ourselves, and it never gets funny to the recipients. It's a chicken-and-egghead joke. Don't bother trying to explain it right now. Let's just leave it behind?

Once we accept lying about and ignoring the drifting conflict between local & aggregate habits - then the bad habit of over-delegating continuous control to presumed process owners (i.e., executives and managers) continues, decade after decade. All because "leaders" fail to practice discriminating the context from the local details? And all because aggregates ALLOW their "leaders" to fail them repeatedly, and simply carry on, voluntarily ceding ownership of their own context management to an endless string of "leaders," following an obsolete process.

And we STILL say that humans are intelligent?

The real heart of personnel system quandaries? Individuals always feel the conflict between personal ambitions and group ambitions.

The solution? Democracy methods.

Yes, I am NOT joking. We've formally known that for over 2300 years, and always knew it, because distributed democracy was always the human condition since the dawn of time. We only pretend to keep dabbling in the lie of delegated contingency management as a permanent solution, as the scale of our contingencies continue to grow.

To anyone familiar with biology, that cycle in social species translates to a quite familiar, ongoing transition in a balance between evolving physiological instincts and emerging cultural instincts. If you look for it, the transition is visible as a gradually changing, aggregate balance between individual and cultural habits.
1) unchecked expression of individual methods for hoarding static assets,

2) unleashed expression of distributed methods for hoarding of aggregate dynamic assets - namely coordination skills.

Our aggregate task, if we're going to maintain a viable nation-state, rather than simply a large, predatory mob? It's simple, really. Just do what James Madison advised. Keep re-developing faster/leaner/newer methods for dealing with constantly emerging factional frictions, FASTER than those unique factions and their unique frictions emerge in every new context (including the context of our own expanding numbers and/or capabilities).

Madison would undoubtedly be appalled that it's even necessary to re-invent this discussion today, 200+ years after he admonished us to never forget the lesson, and even wrote the lesson indelibly into the US Constitution!

If we don't have active methods for discovering, acknowledging, monitoring and ASSESSING every sort of faction and friction that arises, unpredictably, in our diversifying aggregate ... then we cannot even pretend to be exploring our options, or continuing to "make a more perfect union."