Our Signal Document.
My senior “thesis”, such that it was (Penn didn’t require a final paper) was written for a course in Comparative Literature called “The Utopian Imagination.” It was a survey of utopianism from St. Thomas More http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2130to cargo cults. My undergrad major was Economics, so I pondered “how were resources considered in utopian literature?” Through that lens, it was interesting to see how much concern there was for allocation of resources (with the underlying concern for optimizing the net social good, meaning the good of all, as that’s the definition of Utopia, in its most distilled form.)
I’ve been pondering our co-learning efforts against the background of professional development efforts thinking about behavioral and performance optimizations along gradients and wavefronts. Somehow it hit me that was on about the same topic as my putative thesis, all those years ago. One cut through what we’re doing, I’ll asset, is developing a fleshed-out framework for nudging humanity toward something resembling utopian ideals.
I’m not judging this, and I’m sure the effort to write a book of more fleshed-out thesis is in the offing from this. Maybe a background in the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_dismal_science isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Reading The Wickedness Behind Most 21st-Century Leadership Failures-Harvard Business Review Blog got me thinking. In this case wicked is used in the sense of “wicked problem” rather than “wicked witch”.
I will come out an use the e word — evil — to characterize the hyper-rational business practices that prevail and in fact are continually gathering control in the face of a much more abstract plane of commercial ans social interaction. The modern entterprise has devolved into a state where only those discernable facts, which are measureable, are wothy of being managed, and ll other non-conforming facts (like human expression and intelligence) are, ate best, swueezed into confining rows and cells. The modern neterprise is de-naturing humanity for the sake of a kind of rational boundary that doesn’t really exist (See The Black Swan for the reason this is so.) But the hyper-rationalist regime has begun to metastasize into something that serves itself only in a very tight temporal window to the exclusion of the ability to serve any other constituency and any other time frame.
It’s hard to find a spot on the horizon where the hyper-rationalist regime we are living under (in terms of organizational theory) eventually bends back on itself into a kind of true irrationality. This point is important because when the capacity to analyze in a rational fashion breaks down completely, that is the point at which the window for a new analytical perspective, one I’ll call irationality becomes possible. This is i in the sense of the square root if -1. it’s an imaginary rationality, one that only makes sens outside of a fixed Cartesian plane of thinking. How we get there isn’t clear. But there are a lot of bread crumbs on the trail, and it’s the laying of those crumbs that is one of the emerging themes of this blog.