A newsletter story from the Corporate Strategy Board on "consequent markets" got me thinking about the impact of possibilities on decisions (see last post).
If we perceive outcomes as not possible--such as surviving cancer or traveling back in time--we dismiss them, naturally, from our decision processes. As new outcomes become possible due to science, technology, or social changes, we should reconsider our trusted assumptions. Many of us have neither the time nor inclination to do so.
I believe CSB membership may be required to see the whole story. Let me know.
According to Wiki, "A consequent is the second half of a hypothetical proposition. In the standard form of such a proposition, it is the part that follows 'then'."
John F. Kennedy is attributed with getting the U.S. into space and setting the stage for decades of innovation and betterment.
There is a story that he could imagine he was looking down on the people in the room. This allowed him to speculate--without his own biases, “What do they want?” “What are they thinking?”
The Cassini orbiter spacecraft is sending stunning photos from Saturn and its moons and other objects. This is the ultimate mental detachment from Earthbound concerns. I wonder if it could set the stage for the next renaissance, if only we look up (or is it down?) ___
Cassini is named after the 17th century French astronomer. The orbiter's narrow-angle camera took this first-ever high-resolution photo of Saturn's moon, Iapetus, on Sept. 10, 2007 at a distance of 73,000 kilometers (45,000 miles). More photos at this link.
It’s the time of year again when thousands of black birds descend on the trees behind my house. Although the days are still long and warm, the birds are gathered together to go south. I tell my young daughter that they chatter to each other about this collective decision using a language we can’t (yet) comprehend. She laughs, charmed by my innocence.
I have lost how to think for myself. I trust the opinions of strangers more than friends. Like millions of others, I bought a book called The Wisdom of Crowds. I rely on top-ten lists and Google rankings. I check Consumer Reports before buying any major appliance. (I always go with brand names.)
I feel my decisions have been vindicated if I must wait in long lines for theater seats or for store doors to open. I miss the maze of velvet ropes in my bank lobby and hearing the teller call out twenty times, “Next!”
I drift towards bookstore shelves posted with ‘staff picks.’ It's okay that
Amazon.com won’t let me check out without chiding me with what others have bought instead.
I ask the computer at the Chinese buffet to pick my lottery number. I pay a coach to help me prioritize my goals and a therapist to tell me its okay to mourn my brother. I hope I never have to decide on my own to see a doctor if an erection were to last more than four hours.
I have become such a dependent idiot… but I am not alone.
Like Blanche Dubois, I have come to depend on the kindness of strangers. Maybe in some way they depend on me. Should I ask the birds out back where I should go this winter?
______ 1920's photo of people in line to view the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin, Red Square, Moscow.
Here is a calming and thoughtful way to end the week.
If you look past the fancy image transitions and new age music, this short movie is just a simple photo album with words, telling a basic story about the natural world and our role in it. I posted earlier this week, here, about picture stories. This is a good example. Check it out at this link. ___
We are immersed--and sometimes drowned--in too many choices; I am always alert to stories about dealing with such vast selection.
Friday night I experienced the musicianship and charm of Ricky Scaggs and his touring band, Kentucky Thunder. We were sitting near the stage of a local roadhouse, called the Birchmere, surrounded by 500 experienced listeners and friends of bluegrass and old time country music.
Ricky is a master musician, entertainer, and devoted father and husband. He chatted with the audience about family moments, divine inspiration, and Christmas shopping. He is a last-minute shopper, meaning that he usually waits until after Christmas, when the stores are a bit quieter. When he told us how much easier it is to shop when there is less on the shelves, a quiet laughter rolled through the hall. ___ Skaggs' bio; Birchmere
Maybe it has to do with the fighter jets that keep thundering over my office every five minutes, so fast I can only glimpse their silver bodies banking and fading. They look like two-seater roadsters with dorsal fins. Their throaty growls pitch and wane as they throw their tail pipes around before rumbling away like a summer storm.
Five minutes is almost enough time to forget, but then there's another one, or maybe two. This has been going on for an hour. The sky is clear of the usual orderly jet traffic in and out of National.
I have no idea what is going on. There is nothing on the news. CNN, the Times, and the Post are still headlining yesterday's horrible stories: of a Yankee pitcher who flew his plane into a building; a report of unimaginable numbers of Iraqi civilian deaths; of the Amish tearing down a schoolhouse.
Maybe it has to do with the gorgeous autumn day, the distant fire alarms, the memory of smoke from the burning Pentagon.
People are a paradox. On the one hand, we want to control our lives and
make our own decisions. On the other hand, we yearn for freedom and
less responsibility. Our compromise is to accept decisions that others have packaged for us into bundles.
A graph showing the baby boom looks like a snake digesting a pig. The "bulge" of Americans is not only large; its members are bonded by life experiences: civil and womens' rights, the environmental movement, and of course, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Through sheer numbers, the boomers will impact economics and society for at least another 40 years.
A graph showing the number of decisions each of us makes would show a bulge starting in the 1600's. The decision boom was triggered by the invention and widespread adoption of communications technologies and greater literacy, as well as the dramatic expansion of scientific knowledge, greater individual freedoms, and the consumer culture.
The age of individual decision-making is ending, at the same time many baby boomers are living longer, and would appear to have more to decide.
Aristotle said, "the greatest thing by far is to have a command of metaphor." In the realm of decision-making and choice, I argue that metaphor alone is not sufficient because it exists solely in the imagination, and not in the larger world of actions and consequences. (UPDATE 9/28: I say 'larger' because I really do believe the world is bigger than anything we can imagine. This is what makes living so exciting.)
If metaphors are the greatest things by far, then the leaders we entrust with decision authority need to use them with much greater precision and clarity.
The dictionary says metaphors "involve figures of speech or symbolism and do not literally represent real things." "Command" means to direct or control. To have command of metaphor is, in some sense, to be master of illusion.
Goodness knows, we are drowning in a sea of illusion. Leaders say things like "stay the course" and "weather these difficulties." (What course should we stay? Are we expecting a bad storm?)
They re-arrange the deck chairs before urging us not to jump ship, even as they welcome new folks on board and make sure nothing terrible happens on their watch.
Is anyone else confused by these voyages of speech? Would it help if I laid out the ground rules or showed you my roadmap?
What these expressions really mean is,
I give up. I have no idea what I am talking about. Think I'll go sailing.