Social System Principles

The invisible Network

A human society, as for all social species, is a network of entangled minds – and nothing more. Yes, human beings comprise a physical entity, but the material individuals you see are only urns of bone and flesh in the cathedral of the brain. The organizational framework itself, the organization chart, is a confection of the mind. There is no physical artifact involved in orchestrating organizational dynamics. You don’t even have to be on the same planet to replicate the social behavior. There is no central control room, no router, no super-omniscient overseer cranium.

Accordingly, social system behavior influence is a mind-only trip of spontaneous opinions. There is nothing material, tangible, or concrete that distinguishes a human throng at the beach from the plumbers union. You can’t tell which is which until they  act. Everything starts and operates via the invisible communications network of entangled minds. In fact, receiving membership status in a social system is, exactly, formal admission to its network. It is the platform of social media.

Because the network of subconscious minds that defines a social system has no mass, it is not subject to those laws of nature, like gravity, inertia and space-time that channel how mass behaves. The characteristic of the subconscious mind that carries the most significance into social behavior is the speed by which it chooses and decides. No act of choosing an opinion, position, or task action takes it more than a few milliseconds and it can go through multiple decision cycles in every second. For the subconscious mind, the cognitive acts of reflection, evaluation, and tradeoffs are impossible to complete within its decision cycle.

Since your imaginations are not subject to the wear and tear of entropy build-up and friction, they do not age. No matter the advances in knowledge, your subconscious delusions remain timeless, intact and equal in validity to the imaginations of everyone else. Losing an argument about your delusions does nothing to degrade your belief in them.

If the human aggregation is not a social system, whatever behavior you predicted will be wrong. If the collective of humans is a social system, you can predict its behavior with unerring certainty. Social systems are fractal. Large social systems, the ones that spawn MitMs, are a consortium of small social systems with identical mechanisms of action (MoA) dictated by groupthink.

If everyone in the particular social system was gunned down except two, the social behavior that triggered the massacre would continue intact. If you added fresh personnel to the twosome, the numerically-restored collective would behave exactly as the original. Social systems are Holographic. Every individual member carries the same template of behavior (invariant human nature and groupthink) into whatever subgroups might form.

There are significant ramifications in the collision between the subconscious (domination) and the conscious-mind network of implementation. The two cultures have different purposes. The divide is by individuals as well as languages, a combination that delivers mutual incomprehension. Those individuals in the aristocracy camp of delusions intentionally lack basic knowledge possessed by the implementers.

Those into zero-sum domination cannot describe the 2nd Law of thermodynamics. They place imagination as content, over method. They reject the noble moral principle that investigation of facts brings things closer to the truth. Desperate to protect ruling-class infallibility, authorities avoid the possibility of objective knowledge. What authorities ought to do is constrained by what their groupthink allows them to do.

The implementers don’t savvy management school textbooks. They instinctively reject humanist rationalizations about why aristocrats deserve the separate treatments of law they enjoy. They take notice that scientists and humanists alike, when they leave their subspecialty, are laypeople and their rate of fragmentation increases with time. When a society has no system-think wisdom to coordinate the authority camp with the implementation camp, collapse is inevitable.

Actionable quality information, AQI, aka ground truth, is the necessary basis of every task action of implementation. Failures to use AQI and system-think are always punished by the conductor of reality. Actions congruent with natural law in implementation are fundamentally moral. Actions incongruent with natural law are intrinsically immoral. Working with the grain of human nature, implementers doing their job don’t concern themselves with perpetuating traditions. Nothing human is alien to MitMs. They know the position of the universe and its laws with regards to human life, including yours and theirs, dear Mother Nature, is clear. Every inch of the billion light years wide space in the cosmos would kill you if you went there.

Put the blocks of the logic together and you have begun to understand the MitM role, absolutely crucial to species success. Simply put, no one but the MitM, free from the cages of groupthink, could possibly serve the integration/translation function. A comparison of the two creeds, producer and consumer, delusion and reality, defines the situation.

Volunteers, the lot

Every member of a human society is a volunteer. There may be all manner of domination ruts, deceptions, and coercion going on, but at foundation bedrock everyone serves society as a volunteer. Everyone knows that charitable organizations using volunteers for delivering client services treat them dramatically better than those on the payroll.

It is a travesty for the upper hierarchy to abuse its workforce as if they were indentured serfs. Social conditioning has enabled the perversion by convincing the lower classes they are unworthy of humane treatment. Deception aside, the fact remains that everyone in a society serves voluntarily and should be appreciated as such. That means the Rogerian Triad should be the template for all network transactions. Notice that “inalienable rights” is entirely congruent with “volunteer.” When “volunteer-think” becomes habitual, you will witness positive reciprocity – so much benefit for so little effort.

Invoking the magic of hyper-learning

In the course of traversing from Plan A to Plan B functionality there are some very significant milestones that measure hyper-learning progress. You will find no mention of these trail markers in the social literature because they are unique to Plan B. During the transmutation, the interventionist issues no imperatives. The MitMs are given no requirements to test the concepts presented in the episodes. No one is criticized. There is no homework to turn in.

The interventionist works tirelessly to establish high-stakes trust with the MitMs in the FLLP, the Platinum Rule, as step one. He avoids jokes and only tells stories of self-deprecation at the hands of his mother-in-law. Laughter is part of every episode because laughter is the lubricant of class participation, a feature of hyper-learning. No joke.

Laughter about the self-deprecating interventionist is the signal that the group is in trust-building mode. Surrounding every episode, the interventionist spends time one-on-one in situ with each MitM. Over time the MitMs learn the interventionist keeps the interaction strictly private. By the time of episode four of season one, trust has accumulated to the point where hyperlearning goes into overdrive.

The signal that the MitMs have reached high-stakes-trust mode is driven by the subconscious mind. The sign is universal and it originates with the MitM. Nothing is scripted. The signal is sarcasm directed at the interventionist, always in a group setting.  When the MitMs feel free to yank on the interventionist’s beard in public, the interventionist knows he’s been accepted into the brotherhood as a member in good standing. He can now make errors and return the sarcasm tit for tat without concern for social status. He will henceforth automatically get the benefit of doubt.

When the interventionist gets this signal, he can ramp up the transfer of developed knowledge. If he overdoes it, the MitMs will tell him so without hesitation. The level of trust is maintained when the MitMs test out in their world what they have learned, on their own initiative, at the last episode. When they find out by themselves that everything promised in the episode to work, works for them, the supercharger of hyper-learning kicks in.

What the interventionist is teaching the MitMs is how to build high-stakes trust with their workforce. The workers know the whole time who is the keystone. When they kid him, they know who has the “power.”

A philosophical note about Plan B

The literature of society has a lot to say about its choice between a defensive or an offensive-based operating policy. The comparison of strengths between defense and offense as strategy is found in:

  • Military
  • Sports
  • Social status
  • Business
  • Government
  • Mathematical physics

It has been recorded for millennia that a strategy of offense (e.g., siege machinery) is significantly more successful that a strategy of defense (castle and moats) in social hostilities. Defensive practice and fixed positions are relentlessly undermined by the 2nd Law while offensive practices are unlimited and readily adjusted by direct experience – the antidote to 2nd Law degradation. Perhaps the football parallel is the place to start.

In football, defense is initially easier to learn than offense.  At the beginning of the NFL season, scoring tends to be lower than later in the season. That’s because it takes time for an offense to hone its skills and coordinate its actions, while a defense can more readily show up and be turned loose to respond to whatever the offense is trying to do.  As the season goes on, scoring increases as the offense begins to improve the coordination of their plays while the defense shows relatively less improvement.

At work, as in football, playing defense is a primarily reactive affair. We typically respond to what is happening in front of us. It’s easier to play defense because we don’t have to think as hard or make as many decisions as we do on offense. When it comes to day-to-day work in the office, defense involves responding to e-mail and requests for meetings from others and waiting for something urgent to grab our attention.  Many of us—perhaps most of us—work in a defensive posture.  We arrive at work and go straight to our desks where we open our laptops, check our e-mail, and respond to whatever the world has for us that day.

Playing offense is different. It is a primarily intentional, proactive approach. It’s more difficult than defense because it requires us to discern for ourselves what our priorities should be and to stick with our plans in the face of distractions and temptations. An offensive posture at work involves beginning the day by reviewing our projects and setting goals for the day before we look at e-mail or text messages or expose ourselves to any other potential distractions.  It also involves allowing urgent but relatively unimportant tasks to go by the wayside (which is much easier said than done) so that more critical initiatives receive the time and attention they require.

In football, defense is more exhausting than offense.  Announcers frequently can be heard saying “the defense is tired because they’ve been on the field for a long time.”  They never say the same thing about the offense.  Why?  Because playing offense is energizing.  We are motivated when we see our plans put into action.  The same is true at work.  When we play offense, we find ourselves energized at the end of the workday, with a sense of accomplishment around what we’ve achieved, and renewed excitement for the next day.  When we play defense, when we spend most of our day responding to noise and distraction, we often leave work exhausted, wondering if we made any real progress and wary of what the next day will throw at us.

Spend more time working and socializing with people who share your goals and projects, because they will naturally encourage us to stay on task. In just our first day of taking a decidedly offensive mindset at The Table Group, we made noticeably more progress than usual and our sense of excitement and anticipation for the future had increased significantly.  We also found that many of the defensive issues that occupied most of our attention seemed to disappear or shrink in importance.  Which gives credence to the old saying, “a good offense is the best defense.”

Plan A follows a strategy of defending status quo in its organization and operations. The Nash Equilibrium, a natural law, serves to erode advances made in any individual factor so disturbances, good or bad, are neutralized as fast as they form

Defensive mechanisms in hierarchical operations are operationalized by psychological mechanisms in each member of the organization. Defense over offense unfailingly delivers the organization into Plan A. It is categorically impossible to displace OD with something better by dealing with individual defense mechanisms. It has never worked because it can’t work.

Accepting the defects in defense as a constraint, the Plan A to Plan B transposition process runs on offense from day one. The FLLP strategy is to displace the defensive mindset with an offensive repertoire of task actions. The policy is proactive rather than reactive. When the offense strategy pays off, defensive mechanisms retreat into the long-term parking lot of the subconscious mind.

The power of offense in attaining Plan B largesse by Plan A defense displacement is measured by direct experience. On the football field the success of offense is validated by points added on the scoreboard.

The practices of offense by the interventionist that work for the keystone are available for keystone use on their revenue crew. For the interventionist, once past the initial silence-breaking therapy, keystones offer little resistance to hyperlearning. For the keystones, his Plan B example will take a few months to build high-stakes trust with his workers, pre-disposed to distrust him based on prior direct experience. Meanwhile the foreman has to endure defensive routines from his workers until the dam breaks and trust can build.

Organization structure factors

By H.S. Dennison 1927

The structural form of an organization affects and alters the spirit which works through it. The spirit alters and re-creates the structure. The running of an organization and the building of it depend upon each other—affect and are affected by each other. The importance of right structure of organization is sometimes undervalued, because with the right men almost any kind of organization can run well. This is true, but is by no means the whole truth.

With the finest of personnel, an illogical organization structure makes waste through internal friction and lost motion; it fails to retain and develop good men and to invite into its membership new men of high quality. Ability, tact, and good purpose cannot be established by law—they can, however, by law be made possible or virtually impossible.

With an able man in charge cities have been run well under the crudest form of political structure; but crude forms of political structure rarely make it possible to get a really capable man to run and be elected to office. The same is true in a corporation. A logical, well-constructed organization invites, retains, and develops good men. The specific purposes which organizations are created to serve are almost as widely varied as their membership. Their purposes influence both their structures and their operating plans, and, in so far as they are known, they affect their members directly in all degrees of intensity from low neutrality to high self-devotion or severe revulsion.

There are, then, within an organization four principal systems of interacting forces:

  1. The members
  2. The operating measures
  3. The structural relationships
  4. The purposes.

The immediacy and intimacy with which interaction takes place among them increases as a group advances from a loose aggregation of people towards full organic unity. When so far along that one would call the group organized, few material changes can be made anywhere in it which do not affect it everywhere.

Outside the organization there is also its environment affecting it and affected by it. As national culture and the church react upon each other, so do community and factory. Working hours determine the ways in which leisure hours are utilized as truly as the uses of leisure hours affect the hours of work. The trade within which a company finds itself has its “practices” which limit that company’s freedom of behavior in its markets; but that company’s behavior is, nevertheless, one of the forces which determine the character of these trade practices.

Sometimes external influences are slight and can be disregarded; sometimes, again, they are of crucial importance. A pervasive element in the calculations of organization engineering is Time. Within the organic world the full responses of effect to cause are seldom immediate; the degrees of lag vary widely. Many of the best results of social changes are of slow maturity; great organisms to be strong, to withstand storms and trials until they are old enough to bear good fruit, must ordinarily grow slowly. An organization, like an organism, demands an appropriate time for the adoption of any innovation or change. Hence, close upon the heels of any decision of what to do must come the decision of when and how fast to do it. In organization engineering the expectation or promise of quick permanent results is often the mark of the tyro or charlatan.

The organization engineer must take into account this considerable variety and intricate interaction of natural forces. But no sort of constructive engineering is free from such complexities; it is only a question of more or less. Most of the material sciences, however, have developed a set of symbols to condense and clarify the analytical descriptions of the situations with which they must deal. As yet, organization problems must employ the less exact and more confusing method of verbal analysis.

The strain and discouragement of frankly facing the complex tangle of motives at work in most human situations tempt everyone trying to grasp them into the errors of oversimplification. Too impatient to follow the tangled skein through, everyone at one time or another—to a greater or a less extent—finds rest and comfort in making believe that things are not so mixed up as in reality they are, and in deducing some embracing theory from a starched and ironed cosmos.

The laissez-faire doctrine and communism alike result from dropping the thread before the end, the communist’ following the human thread—the classical economist the money thread. The earlier profit-sharing plans likewise suffered from this oversimplification. The word profit itself was used too inclusively, and not fully analyzed into interest, savings, and true profits, so that it would be fit to be the basis of a valid scheme of profit sharing. Too often, in anxiety to arrive at some solution of a pressing problem, only a fraction of the motives and influences at work were counted in, and these attributed indiscriminately to the whole personnel.

Intrinsic variety

Many errors in business judgment arise from a more or less careless oversimplification, or as we more commonly say, from a failure to look at all aspects of the case. Goods may please the retailer and result in large and easy first sales, but slow reorders. A cut in the pay roll, posting itself quickly into the profits account, may silently depreciate the unwritten good will account for a net loss. Organization engineering has to face at the outset the fact that the complication and variations of human nature present to it problems which it cannot now hope to solve with exactness. Yet, because these problems are with us in increasing numbers in the life of today, a growing understanding of their fundamental elements must be sought.

The men and women of whom an organization is compounded are not like simple elements, but more like highly complex molecules. No one person is a self-sufficient or consistent whole. Each exhibits some contradictory traits or diverse dispositions in almost watertight compartments, or in frequent conflict. Each man has something of nearly every sort of disposition in him. He is timid and bold, wise and foolish, a Buccaneer and a Good Samaritan.

The proportions vary so widely as to make an infinite variety of combinations, and there are few men, if any, who can be adequately described by one simple label. Nevertheless, in dealing with man it cannot be forgotten that he is one single personality, even if sometimes a complicated and contradictory one.

The diversity of motives in single individuals does not often become apparent in the ordinary management of an organization. In armies the fear of disciplinary measures may suppress the manifestation of other motives, and in business institutions the economic motive is usually supposed to and sometimes does outvote all the rest. But when emergencies arise in business, such as strikes or bitter competitive conflicts, a full complement and confusing variety of dispositions are likely to show up.

Workers have hundreds of times acted “against their own interests,” as those interests are narrowly interpreted by men who can think of workers only as economic machines; they have more than once loyally followed unwise leaders because the need for some sort of leadership was then pressing.

Business managers, likewise, urged by pride or pique, have often taken measures highly detrimental to the economic interests of the company they managed. Neither managers nor men can be adequately understood if thought of as wholly controlled by economic or any other single set of motives. For men do not change their natures when they cross the line from workman to foreman. If they are still working chiefly for money they will still work as men work for money; if for advancement they look to the various ways they think advancement may come.

Fear and insecurity will make them play safe; self-regard will induce them to “make showings.” Jealousies, loyalties, or unrest are all there in some proportions, but get expression in ways quite different from the workman’s. Making allowance for some differential in average character because of the selecting of foremen out from workmen, it is probable, for example, that there is a wholly comparable amount of restriction of output among them. Glenn Frank, in suggestive metaphor, paints our complex natures: Our brain [he says] is the house of life in which we live. It is a very old house. Nature has been countless centuries building it. And, it is haunted.

It is haunted by the ghosts of all the tenants that have lived in it since the beginning of life on this planet, by the ghosts of all the things we have been from the time we were mere animals until we became modern men and women. We carry around inside our heads all the while a lot of the animal, a lot of the savage, and a lot of the child we once were.

We think we are grown up. We think that all of our actions are the actions of grown men and women. We dislike to admit that in our off-guard moments we act from animal motives or savage motives or childish motives. But we do.

There is a sort of New England town meeting going on inside our heads all the time. The animal, the savage, and the child are sitting on the benches, eager members of the assembly. They debate every question that arises. Each wants every question settled his way. All sorts of old opinions, dead doctrine, ancient hatreds, silly superstitions, unworthy loyalties, and foolish fears are also there. But the educated man is the chairman of this meeting in his brain. The effectiveness of every man’s life depends upon his being a good chairman. He must see to it that the animal, the savage, and the child do not run away with the meeting. He must see to it that its real “order of business” for the day is not upset or set aside by the hatreds, the superstitions, the fears, and the outworn opinions that are in the meeting.

On leadership

A century  H.S. Dennison discussed the leadership role as it was being played out in the operational reality. Nothing has changed.

“Most men welcome leadership. Through their desires for self-respect and social respect they want also the “right” leader; but sometimes men will give up a good deal in order to provide themselves with any sort of a leader whom they can look up to and follow.

The necessity of self-direction is one of the most exacting and wearing with which man can be burdened. Without a set routine, or freed from the eye of the boss, the strain of the simplest work is increased enormously. Inspiration may drive the artist to works of genius, but the mass of the world’s work would be undone or would wear men out in the doing if there were no code or no boss to direct and command.

When under self-direction, the strain of the day’s work is greater than when under external control of a boss, a routine, or a schedule; and many men who work well under closer guidance fail in positions of greater freedom and are weeded out. On the other hand, continuous “direction”—persistent bossing—is one of the great wastes of organization practice.

Direction is actually necessary only as new circumstances arise. The boss’ energies, in so far as they apply themselves to the group he bosses, should be expended chiefly in keeping up the potential or intensity of group effort.

Under any social scheme there must be leaders. An important question is whether the leaders shall be chosen by birth, ballot, or battle. A question which organization engineering must raise and finally answer is whether there is not to be discovered a method of choice better than any of these. Right leadership—of its squads, its platoons, and its brigades—is a principal concern of organization engineering.

The variety of good—and of bad—influences a leader can exert upon each and all of those under him is beyond all ordinary estimates. Examples of what men will do under acceptable leadership are sufficiently well known to make its discovery, development, and utilization a primary concern of organization engineering.

The larger business organizations have until recently forfeited many advantages to be gained from qualities of leadership among their sub and sub-sub executives; they have been more often, in fact, suspicious of any signs of it. Those workmen, therefore, who have been balked in a natural disposition to seek some of the satisfactions of leadership in their bosses, have either turned against them or looked elsewhere.

To select as a leader of workmen a man who has not the abilities or qualities of a leader usually results in their finding leaders and a loyalty outside of the organization. At the best the organization then suffers a loss of the strength it might have had; at the worst, it meets actual opposition from within.

The going standards of foremanship a few years ago might have constituted good specifications for Prussian drill sergeants; they were the very antithesis of effective leadership. Our knowledge of what qualities go to make up an ability to lead is very imperfect as yet. The technique of leadership needs still a great deal of study.

We have so far studied chiefly the Great Man Leader and have generally considered him a genius and, therefore, unanalyzable. Much more important in the long run are the hundreds of thousands of minor leaders whose influence is felt hourly by millions. They are not geniuses, and sound rules of behavior and wholesome warnings to help them should not be impossible to work out. The executive duties of leadership are of two kinds: directing and helping. Directing includes pioneering (long-range planning—breaking through routine—risk taking).

There are leaders who know not only how to make leadership palatable but how to create something like an appetite for the duty they require of their men. It is largely a matter of making it evident that the effort called for is demanded by the situation and not by the personal vanity of the officers; that is, it is a matter of making the hard requirement a matter of belief. The ability to meet emergencies is not of the first importance in all leaders, though it has commonly been a matter of boast by business managers. If it has to be called into play frequently because of a lack of ability to foresee consequences, it should be rather a matter for chagrin. Brutality or other methods of arousing fear may be used by a leader, but their use is more often one of his liabilities rather than one of his assets.

Men in positions of power who have no leadership quality use such methods frequently, and thus give rise to the uncritical notion that a leader should inspire fear in his followers. Possibly when they are primitive folk this may be necessary; among highly developed people even the ceremonial appurtenances of leadership lose their significance.

The full effect of true leadership being to release and direct in any given organization energies not otherwise usable, the trappings and methods of a leader will have to be suitable to the situation. Titles, uniforms, and ceremony have proved beyond question their values under their proper circumstances in all military and many religious and fraternal organizations. In organizations held together largely by the economic bond they do not seem to fit so well.

The effect of an executive upon his organization is both institutional and personal; part of it arises from the position he holds and part from his own qualities and abilities. Natural desires to emulate will lead men to copy the behavior and adopt the standards of those in positions of prominence and power. The character of a chief executive will in time do much to determine that of all executives in the organization. Just as a man may be striving for good reputes of several quite distinct kinds, so he may—and usually does—acknowledge a variety of leaders; one in the nation, another in his ward, in his church, his union, and his lodge, all at the same time.

In military service there is seldom such richness of loyalty, and life is thereby constricted, albeit concentrated and simplified. However cordially accepted, a single authority will almost always result in a man becoming irritated or throttled down. His nature demands several loyalties, needs to acknowledge several “sovereignties.” Thus, however splendidly set up and managed, company villages have the failing that the man at home and at work is under the same authority. When, as in some mining fields and textile villages, the company owns the schools, the fire department, the jails, the churches, and the graveyard, there results always irrational irritations, or stultifications.

Any study of practical leadership will involve a study of “followership”—of just what induces men to acknowledge a leader, of what checks them, and of what leads them to mistaken loyalties. Discrimination in following is the companion virtue to wisdom in leadership; and it is of wide importance to the social structure, since in one phase or another of life’s activities practically everyone—even those who lead in other phases—is a follower. This whole field is in need of much practical psychological research.

The only really absolute “control” of men comes from superior physical force. The exercise of such control by an organization is a last resort, since its use is force wasted. Actually, there is almost never any physical compulsion to do something; the most absolute authority merely influences men to choose obedience rather than suffer the physical consequences of disobedience.

Even when a man is under military or legal control he is still choosing to obey orders rather than suffer some definite amount of physical discomfort. What the firing squad is to any army, the police to the administration of justice, or gold to a system of currency, the control of men is to a productive organization—an indispensable possibility, best when least used.”


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