The Conceptual Launchpad of Plan B
Getting Your Act Together
It has taken sixty years of painful and erratic trial and error to nail the most effective starting place for solving the riddles of Plan A dysfunction, developing its Plan B fix, and engineering the A-B transposition. The life-long challenge in praxeology to establish what starting block of work will produce the least errors and revisions downstream involved proof by implementations in the operational reality. This took an embarrassingly long amount of time. Many of our basic assumptions, like top-down change, proved to be fallacious.
While the mathematical physics of the law of optimality makes it clear that you have to start right to end right, and that mistakes included at liftoff are sunk costs, the mountains of evidence doing it wrong do not point to the best place to begin. The engine-of-productivity search reduces to the laborious process of elimination by black-box testing with real human collectives. The only thing you learn from failures with influencing social system behavior in a prudent, positive manner is – what didn’t work for you didn’t work for anyone during its twelve thousand years of history. There is no doubt that changes for the still-better will be forthcoming.
It was this unbroken history of societal rise and collapse that eventually provided the clue that something very deep, very fundamental was bringing this social calamity about. It was an undescribed and undiscussed riddle. In cases like this, having no exceptions to study, the typical root cause of consistent failure is an attempt to defy one or more laws of Nature. While people like to brag about the unique power of man to defy Nature, the truth of the matter is that no man ever did. No one’s doing it now either. Tomorrow is a safe bet
Having convinced ourselves that the collapse of civilizations came from protracted attempts to defy that which cannot be defied, our quest switched to – which law(s)? The riddle defeated our efforts to solve it for more than a decade of serious field testing. The answer came during 2013 when a social system that did not attempt to defy the natural law was engineered. When the search-by-implementation testing finally left a candidate still alive in the basket (2013) and the survivor was shown by more testing to be generic, it became routine practice. Today, it is incontrovertible.
Looking back, riddle solved, we were embarrassed by its simplicity and obviousness. Humbled, we wondered what were we thinking? The law of nature at the center of the carnage is straight from ecology:
In order for the keystone species of an ecological system to thrive, all members of the system have to thrive.
This is the law the human hierarchy and its class distinctions attempt to defy. The top of the hierarchy, in its testosterone-amplified zeal to dominate, cripples the productivity of its workforce ecosystem. Yes, the head shed spends its energy supply shooting holes in its own boat. Just take this tip and look about. The FAA labels the Plan A trajectory as “Controlled Flight Into Terrain” CFIT.
Since everything about social behavior is psychological, an invisible network of psychic entanglements without mass (no inertia), test results are immediate. Recognizing the prime directive, prudence, leads to how humans allocate their efforts, voluntarily selecting their goals and choosing their task actions including how much diligence to apply to each component. Prudence is not hesitation, procrastination, or moderation. It is not driving in the middle of the road. It is not the way of ambivalence, indecision, or safety. Prudence is work for the mind and the back, taking measured risks. Prudence is the immaculate manifestation of applied intelligence.
Developing your intelligence is not how you were socialized. During socialization you were duped to be credulous. You were turned into a stooge in the obedient service of those who depersonalized you. All this without your permission or your awareness. That’s industrial-scale deception!
As a result, if your starting assumptions include risk-informed rational decision-making, and what you encounter instead is a raft of ill-informed, counterproductive commands from dysfunctional potentates, you’re stuck in a bumpy ride to calamity city. There is no fix to hope for. The Plan A organization cannot cure itself. None ever did. CFIT
To best understand the mechanisms of action for allocating human effort with probity, it is necessary to grasp:
- How the choices for going from as-is to Plan B and their application intensities are made by your autopilot error-producing allocation factory, the imprudence and lack of probity of your genetically-endowed intellectual apparatus
- How the objective of the efforts is chosen and specified, what “Done” looks like
How the individual nodes of the social network set collective goals, make task-action choices for themselves within it, and determine the intensity and duration of effort, all acts of volition demand reality-informed intelligence to succeed. This is the enduring critical success factor.
As everyone is genetically endowed with the same thinking apparatus and born free to choose, everyone is shaped by the biases and prejudices built-in to those “minds” by their genome. We carry the biases of our experience into every choice we make. The distortions of reality and defects in information validity are various and non-trivial. If you don’t know what they are and don’t make allowances for them, you are perforce captive to your imprudent task-choosing machinery on autopilot, your awesome subconscious mind. In short, you’re screwed. Remember:
- You are the choices you implement.
- If you don’t know how you make the choices you implement, it is not you who is making those choices.
- Beyond self-discipline, you cannot trust yourself.
- The chances that the unknown source of your choices is selecting what’s best for you are essentially zero.
- The chances you follow up a bad choice with another bad choice are essentially infinite.
- This self-reinforcing cycle is the Genesis of poverty.
- Since Nature is indifferent, you are always responsible for the consequences of the choices you implement.
The only parameter in your way of life you can consciously control is your effort. Categories of that capability include:
- Viability husbandry, internal, problem-solving
- Construction, producing excess for trade, external
There is no easy way, no straight path to make the right choices of task action. In the Stone Age there was intuition, evolved to perpetuate the species. In the setting today, Stone Age intuition has proven to be a choice-making disaster. As our allocation of our effort determines our way of life, how we choose to allocate this finite resource is paramount to our wellbeing, our psychological success. Your subconscious began controlling your external-world efforts two hours after you were born. You were already choosing who to trust.
There are invariant intellectual attributes that lead to fallacies made predictable because they cause systematic errors. The genome-inspired biases are built-in to the task action selection process of Homo sapiens in goal-seeking mode. The biases that ruin your personal affairs are augmented by your biases that wreck your social affairs. Biases automatically channel task action towards imprudence. This is not the stuff of thriving ecosystems.
The dimension of compulsion has only recently been hypothesized, by us, as an executive cognitive function, able to deal with the other two “minds.” It is not part of established science. Its evidence is empirical. While some books on fortitude and determination brush against the third mind idea, there is nothing in the literature that tackles executive compulsion head-on. Your compelling purpose can even override your endocrine system. We are running experiments to test this hypothesis. Your thoughts are appreciated.
There is no way to intervene to purpose in the unknowable subconscious decision-making process. The only control available to you is unilateral veto power regarding your cognitive and physical efforts. While Brainiac is making instant choices nonstop, your firewall guardian must be in place to triage automatic implementation of Brainiac’s imperatives. Then, you have the tool of compulsion, which overrides both your conscious and subconscious minds in effort allocations. You might think these two “minds” would fight back, but they seem to get with the compulsion, organizationally neutral. We should know.
How do you know when you’ve been imprudent, credulous? You fail to attain your goal. When you attain your goal, prudence is automatically conferred by the material evidence of success. The domain of prudence is practical living, solving real problems with sagacity, and getting things done with probity. All else is out-of-scope. To be or not to be prudent is a free choice.
…it happens in all human affairs that we never seek to escape one mischief without falling into another. Prudence therefore consists in knowing how to distinguish degrees of disadvantage, and in accepting a less evil as a good. Niccolò Machiavelli
Repeating for emphasis, social behavior is orchestrated by a network of entangled subconscious minds. Network functioning aggregates and homogenizes the individual choices into one. There is no overlord mastermind super-brained creature using its authority to compel social behavior. Social systems act like they do, prudent or imprudent or compelled, by network choice. Amalgams are impossible. If you think that your task action choices, how you allocate your efforts, are entirely under the control of your conscious mind, always rational, automatically prudent, and in your best interests, we will pray for you.
The prudent man always studies seriously and earnestly to understand whatever he professes to understand, and not merely to persuade other people that he understands it; and though his talents may not always be very brilliant, they are always perfectly genuine. He neither endeavours to impose upon you by the cunning devices of an artful impostor, nor by the arrogant airs of an assuming pedant, nor by the confident assertions of a superficial and imprudent pretender. He is not ostentatious even of the abilities which he really possesses. His conversation is simple and modest, and he is averse to all the quackish arts by which other people so frequently thrust themselves into public notice and reputation. Adam smith
The launchpad situation
Hierarchical society quickly acts to establish class distinctions. Top classes have an ancient, rigid culture where dominating the lower classes is paramount. The groupthink dictum is to amplify the distinctions that justify the class-based society orchestrated by human nature. The ruling class rapidly rigs a two-level legal system where the top class can operate with impunity and the producing people have to obey the rules or else. Nothing protects the working classes from this tyranny. In most cases the atrocity is expected and accommodated as the natural order of things, as inculcated by social conditioning. Goodbye freedom to choose.
With the legal arrangement in place, the ruling class recognizes the lower classes only as property, their property. Depersonalized, the lower classes are regarded as incapable of having human rights. They are groomed stooges of the authoritarian class whose interest in social status is at stake. The non-personhood designation (e.g., deplorables) means open season on their exploitation for ruling-class benefit. POSIWID This self-defeating chicanery is hardly conducive to a thriving ecosystem.
Since the law mostly concerns the activities of corporations, its notion of ‘personhood’ can become quite elastic. Not all humans are regarded as persons and not all legal persons are regarded as human.
- Intelligence (Ashby)
- A sense of time, of futurity, of the past
- Capability of relating to others, concern for others
- Exercising inalienable rights of the human species
- Control of existence
- Capable of change
- Balanced rationality and feeling
- Neocortical functioning
To exclude the organizational workforce from personhood is completely irrational and taken by those depersonalized as a hostile act. Ca’canny is instant. Meanwhile, the MitM keystone is the ex officio guardian of inalienable rights of the workforce. The ruling class or its lackeys can never be guardian.
This is the context of social behavior and its choice-making in all tall hierarches. Urbanization amplifies the tyranny on the workforce until the city society goes bankrupt. The law of ecosystems is not defied.
The sociotechnical science
Daniel Kahneman published an engineer’s manual on personal choice-making. His 2011 masterpiece, a best seller, derives the fundamental mechanisms by which the standard-issue genome of the individual corrupts choice-making in today’s society. We are indebted to his contribution towards predictive power and sustaining a flourishing way of life.
Unaware that a Plan B could exist and be readily attainable, the professor had no reference framework for prudence and no black box test opportunities, as we do, to measure that Plan B life greatly and favorably impacts individual and collective choice-making. Most of the effort allocation biases he describes simply do not manifest when prudent Plan B is operational. The genetically-endowed biases don’t disappear, of course, but their effects are quickly caught and corrected as errors by the Plan B ideology. That is why Plan B cannot be corrupted. In contrast, imprudent Plan A, run by dupes, brain-hijacked stooges, can’t avoid corruption. Human history makes that clear, still.
As our scope of work is tuned to the behavior of hierarchical society, discussion of overlap with Kahneman’s spectrum of choice-making is strictly limited to those choices which fuel Plan A, the choices that sustain Plan B, and the choices that deliver the cultural phase change from the A domain (ice) to the B domain (steam). The phase change, transferring more allocation control from the subconscious to the conscious minds, is entirely reversible – with the same organizational chart and roster. Building towards Plan B takes a couple of months to establish a beachhead. Going from Plan A to Plan B, is going against the grain of the decision process of Homo on subconscious autopilot and it is effortful.
To relapse from Plan B back to naturally imprudent Plan A, do nothing. The dirty work is over in a centisecond.
Introduction to the three characters of mind
It is now well established scientifically, Nobel prizes and all, that the “intelligence” Nature bequeathed to man for choosing his action is exercised through two disparate information processing systems housed in the cranium. Since these “thinking engines” seem to act like people, very different people, we use nicknames to keep the two imaginary “characters” separate. Kahneman refers to these confections of the mind as “System 1” and “System 2.” Not knowing any better, we grew up calling System 1 “subconscious mind” and System 2, “conscious mind.” When social behavior is irrational and self-destructive, we refer to System 1’s persona as Brainiac, he’s mulish and extreme in proficiency for doing good, like running your endocrine system, and spreading the evils of GIGO.
At first, we labelled System 2’s persona “Indolenta” because she appears to be lazy, as Kahneman ascribed. Our experience with conscious mind dynamics indicates to us that most of what appears to be indolence actually derives from a fear of social status repercussions from changing for the better. Her current nickname is Prudentia.
The third “intelligence” of compulsion, as override of the two scientifically-established minds in the literature, is a theory so new to our scope of testing it hasn’t yet been given a nickname. The hypothesis is nowhere in the massive literature.
The GIGO corollary for prudence is: if you feed fiction into your effort allocation process, your allocation will be impoverished as well. Using fiction to base your choices can’t even solve fictional problems.
For understanding purposes, Kahneman’s System 1 is the operational, peer-compliant you. His System 2 is your delusional self-image of award-winning rationality. Ignoring the antics of your subconscious mind and following its imperatives is to abandon hope. Plan on prudence without deliberately engaging your conscious mind and you’re toast. Prudentia is the cognitive resource in the brain capable of prudence and She has to be prodded into action by extracting her fear-driven bias. She requires copious amounts of internal energy to function and her energy supply is limited by several factors, including fear. Not all compulsion is rational.
Effective choice-making for goal attainment depends on applied intelligence
As intelligence is appropriate selection (William Ross Ashby), intelligent allocations of effort will be objectively consistent with attaining stated goals. At that junction, your intelligent allocation of effort is demonstrably prudent. There are, of course, infinitely more ways to make ineffective allocation choices than there are goal-seeking-appropriate choices. If the way a human allocates his efforts does not advance him towards his stated goals, his wellbeing, when he is free to do so, he cannot also be labelled intelligent/prudent. That is why, exactly, rule-based benchmarks, e.g. company policy wedded to the past, are always imprudent for choosing efforts. The best choices, like the future they face, never stand still.
The selection process by which a human allocates his internal energy is inherited via his invariant genome, the one evolved over millennia for harmonious tribal living. The specialized, invariant genome is an invitation and pathway for the Establishment to sabotage your way of life. It promotes social class distinctions over performance towards the objective. Surely you’ve noticed.
If you don’t know your destination, you can’t get lost.
If you don’t your know your purpose, you’re going to end up somewhere else.
If you don’t specify where you’re headed, you won’t recognize success when you pass through it and you’ll still be lost.
If you don’t know where you’re going, optimism will make things worse.
You can’t make progress towards your goal when your unsupervised selection process keeps making intuitive choices, imprudent, that return any gain in productivity back to status quo or worse. To start learning about Plan B, learn how to engage the method by which you make goal-seeking choices of action. Otherwise your intuition on autopilot sabotages attainment of your goals. The doors to prosperity never slam open to apathy.
Since it is not recorded in your experience, you have no benchmark of the attainable high-performance society to serve as your GPS, your destination coordinates, what “done” looks like, and you have insufficient knowledge about the pitfalls of making choices of action on automatic dupe. The combined knowledge deficits about prudence, the prime directive of a happy life, guarantees you will stay confined in your place. Brain hijacked, the Establishment is content.
Because of the gross mismatch in basic paradigms for choosing effort, it behooves the individual to understand the mechanisms of action in play and learn the effective paradigm of prudence. Attaining a flourishing way of life depends on it. The pleasant shock from getting your prudency act together is how easy and second nature it becomes. The payoffs stream on automatic. Several times a day we stop and ask ourselves, “Why doesn’t everyone do this?”
The biggest surprises of our long adventure in social system functioning came after we started working above the mentor line. If it wasn’t so easy to demonstrate, we still wouldn’t believe it. Below the mentor line, the issues of life are taken and dealt with at the same level of “system” where the consequences became manifest. As Einstein said a century ago, “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we observed them.” This blindspot is characteristic of the disciplines and sciences of humankind. They make believe their scope includes all there is, so there’s no reason to consider higher-order systems.
What surprised us is that what we encounter high above the mentor line is errors and dysfunctions on the big structural issues. The factors and functions that form the launchpad of our way of life are counterproductive. Human society deludes itself that by pretending these structural factors don’t exist, so there’s no reason to study, discuss, and improve them.
For example, born free, you become the cumulative effect of your choices through time. You are shaped by the task-action choices you make as you encounter the vicissitudes of life. Surprise! The subject of choice-making itself is missing in science and its literature. A million books on management decision-making and nothing on the choices that went into the decision.
Corrupt choice-making cannot lead to good decisions.
Putting knowledge to work
There are, of course, infinitely more ways to make ineffective allocation choices than there are ways to make goal-attaining task action selections. If the way a human allocates his efforts does not advance him towards his stated goals, his wellbeing, when he could choose to do so, he fails the definition of intelligence/prudence/probity. As intelligence is appropriate selection (Ashby), your choices of effort will be realistically aligned with attaining your goals. Your intelligence and your allocation of effort are in concert.
For all goal-seeking efforts, there are two decision arenas in tandem:
- Selecting and specifying the goal
- Selecting and specifying the means by which the goal is to be attained.
Don’t start work until you know what done looks like. Fail this maxim and there’s nothing you can do to recover the losses from starting wrong. They are sunk costs. Ron Prichard (2003)
Massive project experience teaches that in 99% of the goal-seeking initiatives to solve problems, the goal selected does not address the casual engine. When the goal is mismatched to cause of the consequences, allocation of effort towards attainment of the wrong goal becomes immaterial.
When goal selection is spot on, the spotlight shifts to allocation choices for expending goal-attainment effort. Unlike goal selection, the goal attainment process can be self-correcting. Run, break and fix (RBF) with early error detection, does wonders in keeping things on target. All spacecraft are equipped with systems for making midcourse corrections to their trajectory.
You can’t make progress towards your goal when your selection process keeps making wrong choices of action that return your gain back to status quo or worse. To start learning about Plan B anywhere but leveraging the method by which you make effective goal-seeking choices, is choosing to fail. It behooves the individual to understand the mechanisms of action in play and learn the effective countermeasures to the subterfuge.
Just review your own social experience with choice making honestly and objectively and you will see that the choices made by the collective were seldom in accord with stated objectives. If you don’t make risk-informed rational allocations of effort, goal attainment becomes impossible. You can no longer reach psychological success. Once you master the ropes of triaged choice-making so that allocated efforts are aligned with goals (intelligence), you can no longer fail. It’s as simple as that.
Elaboration of the core concepts of prudent effort allocation are presented in the NEXT page in this gallery.
If you only understood the Plan B concept, your heart wouldn’t break so bad. Jealousy or revenge wouldn’t be your ambition. Stepping on others to raise yourself up wouldn’t be a goal. Competition would be left on the playing field, and your freedom from what other people think about you would light the pathway out of hell. Shannon L. Alder