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- News of the Best of Times and the Worst of Times - Living in Paradox
HETERARCHY: The Secret of Japan, Inc.
Future Positive — Timothy Wilken, MD writes: In 1983, the major success of Japan, Inc. was serving to focus international attention on their ways of doing business. The Japanese were employing organizing strategies that produced the highest productivity and quality of work-life in the industrial world.
Their success appeared to threaten the viability of many American corporations. This threat was leading to the careful examination of the Japanese way by numerous individuals. Their findings revealed the major focus of the Japanese was long-term and wholistic. This was in striking contrast to most American corporations where the focus was short-term and particulate.
As the world’s business corporations sought to compete and survive in the late 70s and early 80s, they sought the most powerful organizing strategies available. Who would be right — the Japanese, or the Americans?
Should businesses have wholistic concerns or particulate concerns? Did the recent major success of the Japanese prove they had the right system? What about innovation, creativity, and originality? How do they fare under the Japanese way? Many American business leaders were forced to decide without really being able to predict the effect of their decisions.
William Ouchi is best known for his work, Theory Z, which was published in 1981 when American businesses were still scratching their collective heads in trying to understand the Japanese advantage. Dr. Ouchi pointed out that advantage, which was revealed to be a Japanese commitment to democratic leadership that resulted in increased quality, increased productivity and decreased costs while making workers at all levels full partners in business. …
Synergy science has identified conflict as the major obstacle to efficiency, productivity, and quality of work-life within all organizations. While Hierarchy clearly has some major strengths, its problems with conflict create the greatest of liabilities. If human organizations are to survive into the 21st century, it is crucial that conflict be eliminated. …
The Japanese reduce conflict by using heterarchy in their systems. In many ways, the basic structure of Japanese business appears no less hierarchical than our own. However, the Japanese have introduced heterarchy into their systems in at least three significant forms. (05/24/11)Co-Operative Trusts
CommUnity of Minds — Timothy Wilken, MD writes: Today, most humans solve their problems as individuals or at best as nuclear families. They meet their individual needs with individual actions. At best they may meet the needs of their nuclear family through family actions, but this is rarely more than a husband and wife both working. The extended family is an organizational pattern rarely seen in modern society.
This focus on individuality results in a massive loss of opportunity to co-Operative strategies that could result in greater efficiency and economy.
Even though we humans are an interdependent class of life, we choose our actions based not on what we are, but on what we think we are. Today, modern humans are convinced they are an independent form of life. This deep belief in human independence means that most modern humans seek to meet their needs as individuals and make their choices independently of their fellow humans.
In our present culture humans meet their needs by purchasing products and services as independent individuals. In today’s fair market there are providers of products and services and there are consumers. Both the providers and the consumers for the most part think of themselves as independent and make their choices without great awareness of what others are doing.
In today´s marketplace, the providers and consumers meet only in the retail space. They have little or no direct relationship with each other. In this ignorance, both are, for all extent and purposes, blind and ignorant. The provider doesn´t know his consumers, let alone what they might need or when they might need it. And often the consumer don´t know the providers.
Let us imagine an aerial view of our community on an average evening at 10:00pm. Looking down we notice that within one square mile there are several small convenience stores open from seven to eleven. These small stores are all competing with each other as well as with larger supermarkets now staying open 24 hours in order to compete with them. At this hour of night there are only a few available customers to be divided up among all these providers.
Each store is paying one or more clerks to staff the store, plus the costs for lighting and heating each store. From our view above our community, it is obvious that most of the clerks could be sent home and most of the stores closed and still allow every customer seeking products and services at that hour to get what they needed. This would also produce enormous savings for this group of providers. To all stay open, the providers must pass the costs of doing business on to their customers, so this means that the prices in all of these stores is higher to subsidize this inefficiency.
Why is this happening? In today´s world we mostly ignore each other. After all, we are all independent. Each individual is supposed to look out for himself. So there is little communication between provider and consumer. The providers are keeping the stores open in hopes that someone will need something. If they were communicating with their customers, they would know when to be open and when they could close. They could then operate much more efficiently.
Now imagine that this same inefficient process is going on with many different kinds of products in every community in our nation and you start to sense the enormous amount of wasted time and energy.
Let’s return for a moment to our bird´s eye view of our community. Only this time let us imagine a time lapse video camera above our neighborhood. Imagine a family of four, two adults and two older teenagers in local college, having four automobiles. If we focus the video camera on the garage and parking area next to their home we would discover that there are times when there are no cars at home. This means that the family has four cars in use. Sometimes there is one car parked, so three cars are in use. Sometimes there are two cars parked, so two cars are in use. Sometimes there are three cars parked so only one car is in use. And sometimes we will find all four cars parked, so on these occasions this family has no cars in use.
Now careful analysis of our time lapse photography will reveal that this family is, on average, making use of only only 1.8 cars. This means that on average 2.2 cars are parked and not in use. Yet this family is making payments on four cars, paying insurance and taxes on four cars, and experiencing depreciation on the value of four cars whether the cars are in use or not. And, this is without considering the expense of operating the cars. Since most modern humans solve all their problems as individuals, they have chosen the most expensive solution possible.
Now if we move our time lapse camera higher, we discovery that this same phenomenon is occurring at every home in the neighborhood. If we examine all the homes within just a few blocks we discover that there are always cars in the neighborhood that are not in use.
Now, as we continue to watch from above, we see that often times the members of this neighborhood are going to the same place. They all go to the same supermarket. They all rent from the same video store. They use the same post office and drug store. As we watch we discover that often one individual will make the same trip to the same place maybe only a few minutes earlier or later than a neighbor. Again, we see that solving our problemsindividually means that we have chosen the most expensive option. We are doing this because in our neutral culture we don´t even know our neighbors let alone what their transportation needs are.
Now, if we move our aerial time lapse camera high enough to see the entire community, we can now see the parking lots at stores, supermarkets, shopping centers, places of work and schools. And again at any one time most of the cars are parked.
We also discover that one individual living at the north edge of the community is driving to the south edge of the community to his work in a retail store, while another individual is passes him going in the opposite direction, this individual lives on the south edge of the community and is driving to work on the north edge of the community to a similar job. Of course neither individual knows the other, or even how similar and paradoxical their situation is.
We could also analyze these same neighborhoods and discover that each garage contains a lawn mower and numerous tools that are only being used once every two weeks and all of these tools are expensive and require maintenance. I would imagine that in the neighborhood I live in, that on any given moment, ninety five percent of the tools in our garages are not in use.
Our current reality requires that we meet our needs as individuals. This guarantees that we will pay the highest prices for the products and services we need, and with the greatest waste of time and energy.
In any average week, if we total the time and expense involved in making multiple trips to the grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store, nursery, dry cleaners, video shop, post office, etc. etc. etc…, remembering to include the cost of individual transportation with each of us acquiring, maintaining, insuring, and operating our own cars, it would be hard to imagine a system that could be more expensive and inconvenient than our present reality. (05/24/11)What Is the Polyvagal Theory, and Why Should You Care?
Nexus — An Interview with Dr. Stephen Porges by Ravi Dykema: What if many of your troubles could be explained by an automatic reaction in your body to what’s happening around you? What if the cure for mental and emotional disorders ranging from autism to panic attacks lay in a new understanding and approach to the way the nervous system operates? Stephen Porges, Ph.D., thinks it could be so. Porges, professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and director for that institution’s Brain-Body Center, has spent much of his life searching for clues to the way the brain operates, and has developed what he has termed polyvagal theory. It is a study of the evolution of the human nervous system and the origins of brain structures, and it assumes that more of our social behaviors and emotional disorders are biological—that is, they are “hard wired” into us—than we usually think. Based on the theory, Porges and his colleagues have developed treatment techniques that can help people communicate better and relate better to others.
The term “polyvagal” combines “poly,” meaning “many,” and “vagal,” which refers to the important nerve called the “vagus.” To understand the theory, let’s look at the vagus nerve, a primary component of the autonomic nervous system. This is the nervous system that you don’t control, that causes you to do things automatically, like digest your food. The vagus nerve exits the brain stem and has branches that regulate structures in the head and in several organs, including the heart. The theory proposes that the vagus nerve’s two different branches are related to the unique ways we react to situations we perceive as safe or unsafe. It also outlines three evolutionary stages that took place over millions of years in the development of our autonomic nervous system.
The bulk of Porges’s work is now conducted in the Brain-Body Center, a 24,000-square-foot, interdisciplinary research center at the University of Illinois. At the Center, professionals in the fields of endocrinology, neuroanatomy, neurobiology, psychiatry and psychology work together. They study models of social behavior and develop treatments for disorders such as autism and anxiety. Porges’ polyvagal theory is becoming art of thet raining of bodyworkers, therapists and educators. An example is last summer’s national Hakomi conference held at Naropa University, where Dr. Porges was the keynote speaker. (Hakomi is both a system of bodywork and a system of body-centered psychotherapy.) Here, Porges speaks about the polyvagal theory and its significance with Nexus publisher Ravi Dykema.
RD: Please tell me about the theory you have developed, polyvagal theory. Isn’t it an innovation on the theory of the two nervous systems?
SP: Let me clarify. Historically, the autonomic system has been broken into two branches, one called the sympathetic, and the other parasympathetic. It is an organizational model that came into place in the late 1800s and the early 1900s. Over the years, this model has taken on a life of its own, although we know more now. Essentially, it linked the sympathetic system with the “fight or flight” response, and the parasympathetic system with ordinary functioning, when one is calm and collected.
This model of the autonomic nervous system has evolved into various “balance theories,” because most organs of the body, such as the heart, the lungs and the gut, have both sympathetic and parasympathetic innervation.
Most of the parasympathetic innervation (nerve energy) comes from one nerve, called the vagus, which exits the brain and innervates the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, heart and abdominal viscera. However, the easiest way to conceptualize the neural pathways that go through the vagus is to think of the vagus as a tube or conduit. Conceptualizing the vagus this way forced the scientist to notice that various fibers in the nerve originated from different areas of the brainstem. For example, the neural pathways that go through the vagus to the lower gut come from one area of the brain, while the neural pathways that go to the heart and to the lungs come from another area.
RD: Is that relatively new information?
SP: Yes. But the theory is that the system reacts to real world challenges in a hierarchical manner, and not in a balanced manner. In other words, if we study the evolutionary path of how the autonomic nervous system unfolded in vertebrates—from ancient, jawless fish to bony fish to mammals to human beings—we find that not only is there a complexity in the growth of the cortex, (the outer layer of the cerebrum, which is the largest portion of the brain), there’s also a change in how the autonomic nervous system works. It is no longer just a sympathetic/parasympathetic system in balance. It’s actually a hierarchical system. (05/24/11)Modeling Language
BBC Robotic Science — Robots are developing their own language to help them navigate and improve their intellectual ability. The Lingodroid research project lets robots generate random sounds for the places they visit in both simulations and a real office.
The “words” are shared and the robots play games to establish which sound represents which location. The lexicon has proved so sophisticated that it can be used to help robots find places other robots direct them to.
The machines are being allowed to generate their own words because human language is so loaded with information that robots found it hard to understand, said project leader Dr Ruth Schulz from the University of Queensland. “Robot-robot languages take the human out of the loop,” she said. “This is important because the robots demonstrate that they understand the meaning of the words they invent independent of humans.”
One set of the trials with Lingodroids sees wheeled robots fitted with a camera, laser-range finder, and sonar used to map their world - roaming around at an office at the University. The robots also have a microphone and speakers onboard so they can communicate with each other.
The wheeled robots travel about and, when they reach a place that does not have a name, they generate a random combination of syllables that represent that place. When that robot meets another robot it tells it about the places it has been. Slowly, as the robots travel and talk, they narrow down their lexicon of place names until a mutual gazeteer of their world has been generated. The robots generated place names such as “kuzo”, “jaro” and “fexo”.
Each location was broadly tied to the sensory horizon of the sonar and laser-range finder they have on board, said Dr Schulz. Each chunk of territory was typically a couple of metres in diameter, she said. (05/24/11)UK Green Bank to Open in April 2012
BBC Environment — The UK Green Investment Bank, one of the major policies of the coalition government, will begin operating in April 2012, according to Nick Clegg. He said that some of the bank’s early targets would be “offshore wind, waste and non-domestic energy efficiency”. The deputy prime minister added that legislation would ensure the independence of the institution.
In March, MPs warned that the bank would suffer if ministers compromised on their promises. “Investing in a greener future is an ambition that combines an ethical duty and an economic duty,” Mr Clegg said.
He explained that the first investments would be able to be made from April 2012, which was likely to be before the necessary legislation had made it to the statute books.
The Liberal Democrat leader said that more details about how the bank would operate before it was enshrined in law would be provided by Business Secretary Vince Cable on Tuesday.
He added that the establishment of the bank would be a “world first”.
“Most countries have a development bank, but the UK will be the first country to have a national bank dedicated to the green economy,” he said. (05/24/11)Geometry Just Makes Sense
BBC Anthropology Science – Tests given to an Amazonian tribe called the Mundurucu suggest that our intuitions about geometry are innate. Researchers examined how the Mundurucu think about lines, points and angles, comparing the results with equivalent tests on French and US schoolchildren. The Mundurucu showed comparable understanding, and even outperformed the students on tasks that asked about forms on spherical surfaces.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The basic tenets of geometry as most people know them were laid out first by the Greek mathematician Euclid about 2,300 years ago. This “Euclidean geometry” includes familiar propositions such as the fact that a line can connect two points, that the angles of a triangle always add up to the same total, or that two parallel lines never cross.
The ideas are profoundly ingrained in formal education, but what remains a matter of debate is whether the capacity, or intuition, for geometry is present in all peoples regardless of their language or level of education.
To that end, Pierre Pica of the National Centre for Scientific Research in France and his colleagues studied an Amazon tribe known as the Mundurucu to investigate their intuitions about geometry. “Mundurucu is a language with only approximative numbers,” Dr Pica told BBC News. “You don’t have a lot of geometrical terms like square or triangle or anything like that, and no way of saying two lines are parallel… it looks like the language does not have this concept.”
Dr Pica and his colleagues engaged 22 adults and eight children among the Mundurucu in a series of dialogues, presenting situations that built up to questions on geometry. Rather than abstract points on a plane, the team suggested two villages on a notional map, for instance. (05/24/11)
News of the Best of Times and the Worst of Times – Living in Paradox
Happy Jesus of Nazareth Day!
Future Positive — Timothy Wilken writes: In his sermon on the mount,Jesus of Nazareth taught: “Love our enemies, do good to them that hate us, bless them that curse us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgement. Go be reconciled with thy brother.”
Jesus of Nazareth may have been the first human to embrace synergy. His words seem to capture the very essence of synergic morality.
Synergic morality is more than not hurting other, it requires helping other. Jesus was the first human to state the fundamental law of synergic relationship. It is known as the Golden Rule: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law.”
What would you have others do to you? The best one word answer I can find for this question is help.
“Help others as you would have them help you.”
Whether you believe Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ fortold in the Old Testament, or just a man, his words bring wisdom to all humanity. (12/25/11)