The state of affairs in 2012
Before 2013, progress had stalled and all attempts to advance further, based on our basic assumptions, were all failing to gain traction. Trying to promote our work in damage prevention, we kept running into the top-down barrier. This rant is as far as we got working below the mentor line.
Pre-Plan B ignition
The practitioner’s hallmark is incontrovertibility. It is the Plan B goal in perpetuity, his shield against irrational veto, and his ticket to Maslow-grade self-actualization. Practitioners understand the difference between Plan A’s fetish about infallibility and Plan B’s preoccupation with incontrovertibility.
The defense of infallibility as the foremost functionality that characterizes an institution was formed when the first institution appeared. Infallibility is the oxygen institutions need to exist. Almost as ancient is the objective questioning of the logic of that ancient claim. No matter how your reasoning about the matter of infallibility takes place, sooner or later you end up at rank absurdity. Because infallibility is ad infinitum, the 2nd Law drives infallible to ruin. Remaining fixated on infallibility while expectations remain in flux is a shortcut to extinction. It always was.
Over time, legions of logicians have shown; through many separate routes, that the concept of infallibility is fundamentally and logically false. Alan Turing was the first to show the natural law connection that makes it so, but the concept was published centuries before Turing elucidated the mathematics of T2. Since the institution absolutely requires the concept of infallibility to function, to exist, the scene is set for a head on collision with the approaching future. By materializing and enforcing the culture of infallibility, institutions drive their inhabitants to cognitive dissonance. The loyalists can be logical and objective or they can defend infallibility. Since these two matters are in a joint restriction, institution man cannot do both. The problem arises in where to draw the line. If you can be irrational about infallibility, you can be irrational about anything. In this way, the required defense of infallibility progressively turns honest citizens into public liars.
The central “Design for Prevention” (D4P) theme is incontrovertibility, not infallibility. Intelligence developed through the exploitation of fallibility power – the RBF (run, break, and fix) ratchet – is the chreod. Unlike infallibility, which has to be defended with tenacious mendacity and eternal vigilance, incontrovertibility cannot be defended at all. The claim of infallibility must be taken on faith. It cannot be questioned or challenged. The claim of incontrovertibility is not established by fiat but by the endless auditing efforts of those having no part in making the claim. To destroy incontrovertibility, all it takes is to identify one legitimate controvertible issue.
The auditor is given the claim statement and the scrutable connections to natural law that comprise it – hard transparency. The framers of the incontrovertibility claim take no part in the audit. It’s up to the auditor to locate a controvertible in the declaration of incontrovertibility. If none is found, the claim holds by default. The auditor cannot claim controvertible without indicating the specific material defect in the scrutable connectivity. If he challenges the natural laws upon which incontrovertibility must rest, he risks public ridicule.
One situation where incontrovertibility has clear practical application is in litigation. In effect, the opposition has the same predicament as the auditors. Since subjectivity cannot be transformed by credentials and authority into objective fact, the incontrovertible side cannot lose. This exact same predicament automatically applies in any setting of any audience where one side is there to benchmark the other. Even though the drive to incontrovertibility was developed by practitioners specifically to neutralize the veto power of authority at turnover, it applies globally anywhere the conditions are met.
It is helpful to recognize that the power of incontrovertibility takes effect at a level of cognition above the normal level of social intercourse. The incontrovertibility attribute is never discussed directly with the participants, for several reasons including the inference gap. To the population, the incontrovertible is something that is felt and reacted-to, like the Argyris Syndrome, rather than understood. Known by the practitioner who set the stage, the people are unaware their behavior is being shaped by forces beyond their ken and anyone’s control. This is the same situation, now familiar, when performing tests of Starkermann’s theses, also incontrovertible. The actors themselves are fully replaceable without a bump in the scenario. The social system behaves the way it does because it has to.
Some engineer/designers double their productivity by knowing what information to save and what to jettison. Anybody can. The Establishment is proficient at providing façades, snares and diversions to waste your time and get you off the track. Why would Yin want to make exposing the fiction of institutional infallibility easier? Practitioners are routinely awed by the amount of information that can be thrown away with zero risk of missing something relevant to goal attainment. Few realize just how much of the information flood is either toxic or intermediate trivia.
Using practitioner experience as the gauge, at least half the amount of information that is circulating about the institution has no useful purpose and it is often counterproductive.
When practitioners gather, sometimes we wail, sometimes we laugh. What we cry about is the utter lack of an alternative to the RBF ratchet. The piles and piles of data, information and knowledge that have to be gathered and evaluated at considerable and painstaking effort – point nowhere. After the design answer is in hand, the process used to get it seems, looking rearward, circuitous and erratic. No one can figure a sensible way to straighten out the path before the fact. That is why, to an outside observer, the Yang Gang doesn’t seem to have its act together, like a drill team. Pumping the RBF ratchet is a sweaty, messy, unpredictable, discontinuous affair. Maybe that’s why it’s fun to a MitM.
Fallible R Us is the ticket to intelligence alright, but it entails a learning process that is rarely direct. One thing for sure, thanks to the 2nd Law, is that expectations will forever remain in flux. They never solidify.
MitM/practitioners on a case have no intellectual chaperone. The field of ignorance is always larger than the estimate. Reliable information comes only the hard way, i.e., knowledge development, and the hard way also entails error. Requisite knowledge integration is communal. It is importing additional, new knowledge and synthesizing existing internal knowledge. It is hard messy work.
Meanwhile, worshipers of infallibility enjoy all the acclaim the public can muster. The troops need the illusion of infallibility just as much as the hierarchy. It’s the only glue that allows something to get done at the work face.
As the Establishment makes heroes of catastrophe’s first responders and crisis managers, there will never be a shortage of calamities. By contrast, prevention is seen as the dull discipline, without rewards commensurate to the great personal effort to meet I.1. People involved in prevention are seen as meddlers with the livelihood of the fire fighters.
What we laugh about, to ourselves, is the various ways institutions deal with issues beyond their reach and grasp. You couldn’t make these stories up. Although no two institutions ruin their viability account (and accelerate the increase in entropy) in exactly the same way, it all ends at the same head-on crash with reality. That we don’t talk about because it is proof positive of mismatch-caused attractor operations. Mismatch is repetition of the same distinctive “insanity” practitioners know only too well. It is knowledge they cannot lose.
The benchmark for Plan A behavior is set at the swearing-in ceremony. The culturally congenial buy the image of Yin and stamp it on themselves. To be enrolled, each individual must take an oath of allegiance to its ideology – business as usual.
Coupled with obedience to policy and the rules of its culture, the individual is required to commit to defend that which he obeys as infallible. It’s not enough just to be loyal to company procedure and policy. You must hold the chain of command incapable of error. No institution can remain viable without the obedience/defend-infallibility combination. For this, the organization has no plan B. Dilbert attests to the fool’s bargain on a daily basis.
The willingness to ruin the institution in order to sustain the illusion of infallibility, in the face of all manner of the obvious, is no longer an interesting phenomenon – too many specimens to fit in the display case. Since no lessons are ever learned, why bother. After crisis response is spent, there is no next play in the corporate gamebook. It’s always back to business as usual – the efficient cause of the crisis. No one dares to notice.
You do not become a practitioner just because you, creatively maladjusted as you are, decide one day to take up this extraordinary calling. For building your esteem from society, it is a profession with nothing to recommend it. You are thrown into it by your moral sense of responsibility to humanity, the instinct of workmanship, and a preference for truth. You are exiled from the Yin structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well and ends with branding as a heretic. If you’re not aware of the condition and take precautions, what you get for your troubles is a quick, one-way trip to the stake. Yes, it helps to be an adolescent.
It does no good to be concerned about institutional strategy. Truth be known, if you were given free rein to align institutional culture with your vision for serving society, you would not know where to begin. Nash Equilibriums cannot change from where they are at a slice in time “up” to a level where everyone’s payoff is higher. The jostle of life relentlessly pushes the NE towards the lowest-payoff form of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Settling to the bottom is only a matter of time. 2nd Law. Remember, men with high IQs are doing this to themselves.
The universal Yin stratagem is not a display of the criminal mind, but the forced incapacity to build intelligence at all – a dear price for preserving infallibility. Like Adams’ Dilbert, transpose the ubiquitous mismatch tragedy into comedy and leave it at that.
In what no self-respecting institution could possibly want, technological advance creates stakeholder wealth and weakens political stability at the same time. The source of this outrage is the warren of those who practice engineering design.
The response of the world to a Yang Gang is schizophrenic. All practitioners note that the wider your reputation for solving tough problems, the less likely the institution will be interested in your services until after it has made a horrible mess. When you manage to pull them back from the precipice, they run you out of town.
By now it is apparent to the attentive that the Design for Prevention is really about the fundamental process of engineering design, of complex problem solving, of running a business. The methodology composing the D4P Standard of Care (SoC) is of extreme generality. For the big issues, like energy and health care, it is easy to identify institutions “in charge” in over their heads. Nothing improves with time, courtesy of Nash and the 2nd Law. Nash holds everything still and in place while the relentless 2nd Law hammers it to death.
The use of prevention in the title is to establish an important functionality as a tangible benchmark for the generic process. Since no institution wants to prevent damage to stakeholders, it heralds something alien to business as usual – which it is. The designer of a prevention system can design anything.
The incontrovertible Standard of Care in the D4P is the winning template for business success as well. While several unflattering remarks have been made throughout this book about business, to be sure, a business that embraces the D4P Standard of Care cannot fail to reach its objectives. The same strategy that brings success to complex problem-solving engagements is no less competent in navigating a business through challenging times. It’s quite obvious currently that a lot more is involved in making appropriate business decisions than CEO charisma.
The record now being laid down by business management locked in mismatch is obscene. Prospects for the future look even worse. In less than two decades, corporate executives managed to fall from second place in public esteem to ninth – and still falling. They will not regain the lost esteem in your lifetime. It is futile to be optimistic about the impossible. It is a stall tactic for losers.
In mismatch, the ones who give the commands are surprised, puzzled – why the results are as they are. Their response to the self-generated cognitive dissonance determines the fate of the project. The usual choice is to increase discipline of the subordinates. This selection seals the project in the death spiral. There is no escape.
If management and leadership training operations are so knowledgeable and learned, it’s not showing up in the performance record of their alumni. Look what business leaders did to Deming and Hammer. The important point here is that an incontrovertible strategy for business management success exists and you are competent at it.
Management’s connection with the concern is essentially transient; it can be terminated speedily and silently whenever their private fortune demands its severance. Instances are abundant, more particularly in railway management, where this discrepancy between the business interest of the concern and the private business interest of the managers for the time being has led to very picturesque developments, such as could not occur if the interests of the management were bound up with those of the corporation in the manner and degree that once prevailed.
From the considerations recited above it appears that the competitive management of industry becomes incompatible with continued prosperity so soon as the machine process has been developed to its fuller efficiency. Further technological advance must act to heighten the impracticability of competitive business. As it is sometimes expressed, the tendency to consolidation is irresistible. Modern circumstances do not permit the competitive management of property invested in industrial enterprise, much less its management in detail by the individual owners. In short, the exercise of free contract, and the other powers inhering in the natural right of ownership, are incompatible with the modern machine technology. Business discretion necessary centres in other hands than those of the general body of owners.
In the ideal case, so far as the machine technology and its business concomitants are consistently carried through, the general body of owners are necessary reduced to the practical status of pensioners dependent on the discretion of the great holders of immaterial wealth; the general body of business men are similarly, in the ideal outcome, disfranchised in point of business initiative and reduced to a bureaucratic hierarchy under the same guidance; and the rest, the populace, is very difficult to bring into the schedule except as raw material of industry. What may take place to accentuate or mitigate this tendency is a question of the drift of sentiment on the matter of property rights, business obligations, and economic policy. So far as the economic factors at play in the modern situation shape this drift of sentiment they do so in large part indirectly, through the disciplinary effect of new and untried circumstances of politics and legal relation to which their working gives rise.
This discipline falls more immediately on the workmen engaged in the mechanical industries, and only less immediately on the rest of the community which lives in contact with this sweeping machine process. Wherever the machine process extends, it sets the pace for the workmen, great and small. The pace is set, not wholly by the particular processes in the details of which the given workman is immediately engaged, but in some degree by the more comprehensive process at large into which the given detail process fits. It is no longer simply that the individual workman makes use of one or more mechanical contrivances for effecting certain results. Such used to be his office in the earlier phases of the use of machines, and the work which he now has in hand still has much of that character. But such a characterization of the workman’s part in industry misses the peculiarly modern feature of the case. He now does this work as a factor involved in a mechanical process whose movement controls his motions.
It remains true, of course, as it always has been true, that he is the intelligent agent concerned in the process, while the machine, furnace, roadway, or retort are inanimate structures devised by man and subject to the workman’s supervision. But the process comprises him and his intelligent motions, and it is by virtue of his necessarily taking an intelligent part in what is going forward that the mechanical process has its chief effect upon him. The process standardizes his supervision and guidance of the machine. Mechanically speaking, the machine is not his to do with it as his fancy may suggest. His place is to take thought of the machine and its work in terms given him by the process that is going forward. His thinking in the premises is reduced to standard units of gauge and grade. If he fails of the precise measure, by more or less, the exigencies of the process check the aberration and drive home the absolute need of conformity. Thorstein Veblen 1906
Philosophy and Strategy
A high purpose of the book is to document knowledge about the practitioner weltanschauung in hard copy To Whom It May Concern. The book records, for the first time ever, what is already operational in I.1 engineering. Accordingly, every concept within is transparently demonstrable and locally testable. There is no bent to teach or persuade. Practitioners already know this stuff. Others only need to know that the D4P Standard of Care is incontrovertible – no act of faith necessary. Every claim is locally demonstrable.
Nature certainly enforces its laws, but nature herself has no goal for her force fields to reach. Nevertheless, the Yin attractor, viewing the Yang attractor through the lens of infallibility, concludes that the Yang goal-seeking practice is diabolical, contrary to Nature’s will: unnatural. Meanwhile, the Yang attractor carves its fundamental approach standing upon Nature’s laws, always revealing the sublime. Attractors do not pre-exist or represent the real. Attractors connect the real and hold it in a place setting.
Because the daily news bombards us with institutional folly, the incessant drumming of the standard mismatch scenario has created a cottage industry for criticizing institutions – “Ain’t it awful!” This artificially fabricated prejudice is unwarranted. Never lose sight of the fact that if the issue takes a team of more than four to six individuals to handle, Yin is the option. Be vigilant in maintaining a ruthlessly objective view of the two attractors. Remember, they are opposite and complementary in a joint restriction, comprising a whole – a whole that a civilization requires to survive. It is purely and simply a case of allocation; “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” Pursuing the impossible is always a waste.
While work continues in recognizing patterns and sets in the arena, steadily reducing complexity as tested knowledge accumulates, the staircase of inferences stubbornly resists material reduction. Because of the highly-efficient socialization process, the essential principles continue to orbit high over the heads of the population. The inferential “gap” is not the only natural barrier to understanding and adoption. If divine intervention reduced the number of inferences to fit the general population, the subject matter, as it begins to be understood, overruns the tolerance level limits of m2R change set for the population.In designing prevention systems, nothing can be done to reduce the number of disciplines in the arena. Discipline ramification is relentless. As complexity mounts, discipline split and spinoff is spontaneous. Specialization is an institutional ally, a neutral and non-threatening mode of self-development. It fragments autonomously, unstoppable, in a direction opposite to the chreod of goal-seeking. The group integration assignment for the multi-disciplined practitioner is one of the most challenging functions in engineering and certainly the least appreciated. It has little to do with their disparate guilds but much to do about the particular cauldron of cognitive bias.
In this breach, the constraint of inference is backed up by the inertia of culture. Few can bear the mental-model demolition and reframing process of their habits of belief. Lifelong misconceptions will generally be preferred to the pain of change and the social rebuff that attends it. For the barrier of cultural norms, divinity is helpless. The comprehension gap is best taken as operational reality, as read.
The veteran practitioner fabricates the structure of the relevant knowledge library before getting into its contents. The D4P is, for the most part, induction. It is the main process for adding knowledge to the project library. Deduction merely explicates what is already known, a process called scientific inference. Since deduction rests upon the inverse proportionality of the extension and comprehension of every term, it acts as a barrier to ascending towards universals. The results of these ascents
The population has been socially conditioned to believe that primitive forces, like a natural law, require human consent before becoming operational. That is, to ignore a natural law is the equivalent of neutralizing it, keeping it safely parked in its garage. This hallucination invariably leads to attempts at defiance of the natural laws that were initially just ignored. The problem with defiance mode is that it makes matters worse at a runaway pace.
Pragmatic foresight aspirants are good at seeing ahead to the implications of this received knowledge. The unwelcome epiphany with reality is called the “Giveup Wall.” While different pilgrims crash into this wall at different steps on the inferential staircase, the crashes themselves are identical. In the instant of collision, it is seen that practitioner power comes at a price. The choice to continue towards Everest or not is made on how much the individual values the “cost” of reframing his perceptual models – not on the value of benefits enjoyed only by practitioners.
As there are only negative social impacts, it is easy to understand why practitioners, in general, grew up perceived by the cultural conditioning system as eccentric and nonconformist. Credentialed citizens invariably choose to remain inmates of the Yin attractor so as to quietly harvest retirement benefits. Yangs have no employee benefits to lose.
Practitioners believe the pursuit of the impossible is unbecoming of a professional. The practitioner knows that getting an attractor to act outside of its ideological sphere is a waste of energy and often counterproductive. He knows that motivation and incentive have absolutely nothing to do with attractors. The ideology of the Yin attractor, a Nash Equilibrium, is the impetus.
The institutional/hindsight/Yin attractor is the only attractor that comes with an emergency response function – the last page of its operations manual. This function of the general staff is to deal, separately from the producers, with the disturbances triggered by the consequences of business as usual. Conversely, it would be odd indeed if an attractor dedicated to preventing damage had a SWAT team. For what?
Firefighting is apart and linear. There is no feedback from the responders pertaining to prevention. The only viable choice left to the institution after crisis response has been spent is straight back to the very same efficient cause of the crisis. Decades ago, if you wanted to study examples you had to go to the library. Today, examples come at you in all directions and you can’t turn them off. Deepwater Horizon is no different from Challenger.
The responsibility conundrum
Stanley Milgram was the principal investigator who, without having such as his goal, experimentally validated attributes of the Yin attractor binding forces. It is a small step from Milgram’s notorious work on obedience to authority over to the Turing Thesis. As Stanley’s research established, submitting to authority held as infallible requires indifference to both goals and consequences. Any facility for building intelligence is demolished.
There is no such thing as delegating responsibility for results, for operational consequences. There is a pagan ritual, a stage play that makes believe such is viable and everyone has, at one time or another, been given a part in that play. It is a tragedy. No matter how you look at it, it’s an immoral act. The target of the ritual, the one given “responsibility,” is being forced to lie under oath. He’s dead meat and he knows it. Loser.
The ones giving the command do it with scienter, since they also know it’s a fallacy that can deliver no other end than damage to subordinates and stakeholders. The despicable act is done to buy time. By the time project reality goes volcanic; those administratively given the responsibility have clothed themselves with seven layers of CYA. The all too familiar circle of finger pointers is formed and the stakeholders get the bill. Losers.
Hierarchy can only give duty to procedure – a work order. The only level where the taking of outcome responsibility has any cash value is the immediate workplace. All else is eye wash and obfuscation to narcotize the stakeholders, dependably socialized to take the bait. This is a bright line in the scrap heap where practitioners make a stand.
When it comes to preventing preventable damage, the only person who is in a position to fulfill his taking of outcome responsibility for I.1 has acquired the knowledge for the effective intervention of the particular. Every system has unique focal points where intervention for prevention gets the highest payoff. The significant intercession points are rarely obvious. With complexity, professional judgment is so consistently and embarrassingly wrong, it is best banned from entering the arena. You’ll learn.
There are several subtle advantages for the practitioner when he voluntarily takes responsibility for results. Foremost, he cannot lose. He will face Yin flak on a daily basis and encounter gratuitous roadblocks that would make a Saint furious. His reward for success is for both his project and himself to be erased from memory. Still, he cannot lose.
He avoids all the wasted resources associated with risk transfer games. Personal responsibility for operational consequences eliminates any duty to persuade anybody to do anything, including encouraging others to persuade others. After you have taken the ultimate responsibility of fitness for the application, a duty that cannot be delegated, what is there left to hassle you about? You’re free to make it happen. For the practitioner, autonomy is as good as it gets.
Making good on responsibility for results requires intelligence (appropriate selection) in rather large quantities – precisely the attribute considered heresy in rule-based operations – even on a small scale. Developing the intelligence to drive system entropy to zero, mission success, is the product of a progression of mini-failures, each used to inform the succeeding work cycle (don’t go there). Knowing you can reach success only on the back of fallibility and malfunction, when the succession of ratchet pumps stops improving things, it is your message from the artifact that the end has arrived.
The MitM standard of care
There is one MitM common denominator and it is the fountainhead for everything design. The Standard of Care, a chreod that awards you with an “incontrovertible” diploma is the goal-seeking benchmark. Simple.
Never let anyone or anything sway you from the fact that the incontrovertible Standard of Care for I.1 is unsurpassed on every and all project dimensions.
Pragmatic foresight scores best on:
- Accomplishment towards the goal
- Cost of accomplishment
- Schedule of accomplishment
- Quality/safety of accomplishment
As your experience has shown, Plan A will discount the D4P as a project vehicle on those very measures where pragmatic foresight shines. The methodology will be rejected out of hand. Fine.
Thinking that something must be sacrificed to do the job “right” is a defense of institutional infallibility. “Ethics is too expensive.” Since this ploy is phony, it is always enacted by the pulling of rank. Respond with silence.
Do not be persuaded that the D4P is sacrificing one dimension to excel in the others. When it is in match, Yang is wildly superior to Yin on all counts. Yin in a mismatch, measured by the standard project indices, is a total disaster.
In an engagement, the delusion that the D4P is extravagant is one to extinguish early on. Just run one of the tasks that exposes the information disgrace that defines institutional operations. Then, loudly proclaim that there will be no more talk about cost or schedule – or you threaten to go public with the facts of fallibility. In every case, so far, the threat has worked.