26 February 2009

Someone Get This Woman a Job on Sesame Street

An absolutely delightful answer sung by the marvellous and talented Glory Liu to the question, "what is nano?" part of a contest sponsored by the American Chemical Society.

The Nano Song from nanomonster on Vimeo.

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25 February 2009

Stephen Lewis: "No funding for peace talks unless women are at the table"

Stephen Lewis is a brilliant and truly inspiring individual. This is the text of his recent address to the 10th Annual Policy Forum of the Institute for Inclusive Security.
As I read through the avalanche of briefing notes that Jacqueline O’Neill sent to me on behalf of the IIS, two things struck home. First, the simple, unvarnished truth that men make war, and women lead lives without resorting to violence, so it makes unassailable logic to have women at the centre of peacemaking and peacebuilding initiatives. They are indispensable to negotiating peace agreements that last, and indeed, will never be sustained without the leadership of women.

But the other item was in a way transformative. In a Christian Science Monitor op-ed back in October, 2007, written by Carla Koppell, Director of the Initiative for Inclusive Security, she argues, and I quote “We could reserve seats at the table for those who have not borne arms but have a stake in peace. Most radically, mediators could invite non-belligerents to the table first and have them set the agenda for talks.” It means, says Carla “ … that those who haven’t picked up weapons get to choose priorities.”
Read the entire article - it's worth it.

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And Water Isn't Wet, Either

Don't you just love it when someone from a BAH organization says something publicly that is so incredibly inane, yet says it with such sincerity that you'd swear that they believe it themselves. And what's even better is when they construct their own little system of logic that makes it true for them, and preserves the integrity of the BAH system to which their identity is inextricably hooked. And, like all good BAH systems, their BAH system cannot be wrong (otherwise, it's identity crisis time).

So it was the other day with the sincere, but inane, statements from the Canadian Police Association and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, calling for increased use of Tasers by saying, "To date there is no evidence, either scientific or medical, that a conducted energy weapon has been the direct cause of death ... on any person."

Technically speaking, that's probably true. There have been hundreds of studies done, most of them sponsored by Taser International, or performed by hired consultants for Taser International, or both, that demonstrate that the "conducted energy weapon" - the Taser - has not been the direct cause of death. But that's like saying there has been no instance in which a "firearm" (gun) has been the cause of death. That's a technically true statement. You see, it's the bullets that cause the damage, not the gun. And even bullets themselves have never been the direct cause of death, technically speaking. All persons that have succumbed subsequent to an incident involving the acceleration of a projectile from an individually targetible contained chemical explosive device have all experienced either extreme vascular tensivity or sudden organ failure that contributed to their deaths. (Translation: everyone who has died of gunshot wounds either bled to death or had their insides blasted to smithereens.)

You see, to say anything else about Tasers, to deny the myth of Excited Delirium, is to admit that the BAH system is wrong, that decisions taken for what seemed to be valid reasons were actually inappropriate, ill-advised, or poorly thought out. It is to admit that there are indeed police officers who exhibit latent sadistic behaviour, and some who succumb to their own frustrations and weakness of character. And, above all, a BAH system cannot, under any circumstances, be shown to be wrong. Any such revelation will compromise the premises upon which the BAH system is built, namely the infallibility of its intrinsic processes.

And on this topic, kudos to Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who has taken a reasonable and responsible approach to Tasers, essentially treating them in the same category as police officers' service revolvers.

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24 February 2009

Like Baking Bread

I had the opportunity this morning to share my No Educator Left Behind keynote with the Educational Developers Caucus, whose annual conference was taking place today and tomorrow at Durham College. A great audience, a lot of good feedback, engaging questions, and a number of valuable and interesting conversations. In response to one question, I happened to come up with what I think is a useful metaphor for higher education: baking bread.

You take a bunch of organic components, combine and knead well, working the mix with a firm hand. You let it rise on its own - then punch it down and knead some more. Let it rise again - and punch it down again. Finally, you let it rise to its full height, filled with the organic activity of living elements (and a bit of gas), and then let it bake on its own until the room is filled with the sweet aroma of a magnificent creation that can be shared with all who choose to partake of the goodness and value of what has been produced.

As an adult educator, that metaphor seems a lot more satisfying than any of the industrial, gotta-succeed-in-a-competitive-world metaphors that are often used by administrators and policy makers.

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23 February 2009

Resigning From CUPE

I am - or at least was - an unwilling member of CUPE local 3097 that nominally represents Graduate Assistants at OISE. I have disliked the union for some time, especially since they have repeatedly tried to obtain benefits solely for its members that would have had the effect of jeopardizing benefits for those students who are not members, that is, who do not have the privilege of holding a GA. Further, I believe that unions in the context of a privileged workplace are anachronistic, an artefact of the Industrial Age, that enables management intransigence and dysfunctional regimes of imposed controls. However, I went along, engaging in vigorous conversation with unionist colleagues from time to time, because the academic environment is the place for vigorous conversation (note that I didn't say "debate").

But not any more. Yesterday, I submitted a letter of resignation from CUPE Local 3097 after hearing about the resolution put forward by the academic wing of CUPE at its meeting in Windsor over the weekend. The resolution calls for "members at Ontario universities to boycott working with Israeli institutions doing research that benefits that nation's military," which is essentially any and all Israeli institutions. As part of its "academic investigations" into "human rights violations against Palestinians," (the quotes are from correspondence from one of the vice-presidents of the union at OISE) the CUPE local supports such activities as the so-called Israel Apartheid Week, a celebration of hate and discord that does nothing to foster meaningful conversation among all those wronged by the violent partisan stands of many Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

I identify with Israel because it is part of my heritage and my history. My identity includes the experience of walking through Yad Vashem to bear witness to the thousands upon thousands of towns and villages wiped out in the Holocaust, hearing news of relatives and friends maimed and killed by actions of both war and terrorist attacks, and actually being able to throw a stone into an Israeli field from a former Syrian sniper post on the Golan Heights that was once used to target with high-powered rifles relatives who were working in that field. I deliberately took my children to experience the pre-1967 borders on the West Bank, so that they could viscerally understand how perilous Israel's existence was during its first two decades. I also showed them the absurdity of separated Palestinian villages, and we experienced a very small taste of the harassment that Palestinian workers face when attempting to eke out a meagre living.

I do not agree with all of the Israeli government's policies; I do support and identify with Israel.

In the same way that I was not anti-American when decrying the egregious policies of the former Bush administration, I identify with and support Israel even though I am aghast at the stated policies of the incoming Netanyahu government, propped up by Avigdor Lieberman's radical, ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party. I believe that such policies actually promote hatred against Israel, and by extension, put Jews throughout the world at risk of antisemitic attacks.

Nonetheless, I must separate my identity from association with a union local that seeks to ostracize academic engagement with Israeli institutions because of the policies of a particular set of political factions. This union did not actively seek a boycott of United States academic institutions during the Bush years, although that government is responsible for orders of magnitude more deaths than those that befell the pitiable residents of Gaza. They are not seeking boycotts of many other Middle East nations that routinely engage in horrendous violations of human rights. No, it is solely Israel that is the target of their self-righteous stance nominally in support of social justice. Such action is, in my view, the logical endpoint of a discourse that began centuries ago - a way to indirectly justify that which is unacceptable in the open.

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A Gift from Canada to President Obama

Barack Obama is truly an inspiring leader for the entire world, as I've said before, the first UCaPP President. Accordingly, a group of high school students at Weston Collegiate here in Toronto produced this video, drawing from his inauguration address. A fantastic piece of work, and a perfect example of collaborative construction that is fundamental to the UCaPP generation.

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18 February 2009

Violence and Identity

My blog posts are usually automatically sucked into my Facebook profile as notes. This is a case in which I was updating my status and felt drawn to "export" those Facebooky thoughts into a blog post.
Mark Federman is contemplating McLuhan's observation, "When deprived of his identity, man becomes violent in diverse ways. Violence is the quest for identity." 2 seconds ago

Mark Federman at 11:32am February 18
And the obvious probes: In what diverse ways do we collectively and systematically deprive people of their identity (especially in organizations)? What are some of the diverse ways in which that violence might be manifest? And in both instances, how are the respective ways of violence constructed so as to seem acceptable, normal, and perhaps even desirable?

In geopolitical contexts, I think McLuhan's observation-cum-probe is easily understood on its face - one need only consider the various liberation movements scattered throughout modern history among numerous countries to see how violence and the quest for identity are intimately linked. But my attention is focused on organizations, and in particular, organizations in transition or those facing cultural change. Identity is one of the five valence relationships that I have identified as being fundamental to the emergence of organization.

Throughout my research, I am finding that the identity-valence seems to hold a special place in relation to the other four valence relationships (economic, socio-psychological, knowledge, and ecological). Especially when confronted with organizational change, people struggle with issues that connect directly with preserving their individual construction of identity. Sometimes, this manifests as preservation of (or gaining improvement on) a title – the bureaucratic “office” through which proxy authority is conveyed and exercised. In other cases, it manifests as preservation of scope of responsibility, akin to a more primitive, predatory instinct for territoriality. One participant describes behaviour after a merger as a “feeding frenzy” during which individuals competing for what they perceived as scarce, rivalrous, identity-preserving resources would deliberately withhold information necessary for colleagues/competitors to perform their own job functions. This form of violence not only had the potential to damage those suddenly perceived to be competitors, but also the company’s effectiveness as well; an odd set-up for any company to create, but especially for one that subscribes to the modern myth of the knowledge economy.

Even more troublesome is the circumstance in which the framework used by individuals to construct identity within an organization changes. Not only are people’s constructed identities threatened; their previously learned ability to construct identity is also ripped asunder! As most people – especially in corporate environments – have been socialized to construct identity via external markers of status success (creating an “exo-self” as I have described elsewhere), the prospect of a restructuring that affects those external markers is threatening enough. However, when confronted with a shift in organizational culture as significant and traumatic as transforming from BAH to UCaPP, in which wearing those external markers of status, class, and privilege are no longer considered as being acceptable behaviour, the identity-construction framework itself changes. And that is undoubtedly a provocation to violence, manifest in diverse ways, ranging from resignation to active mutiny against the leadership.

One of the key lessons to emerge from my research is directed towards the leadership process (in a UCaPP organization, leadership is not embodied in one, or even several individuals, but in a complex process from which the organization’s impetus emerges): When attempting to effect an organizational change of any sort – but especially when that change is culturally transformative – it is vital to focus on helping people through the psychological apparatus of preserving, or reconstructing (or both) identity. This is doubly true if the changes affect the apparatus itself, as when moving from a status-based recognition system in which divas are lauded, for example, to one in which collaboration is valued and spotlight-seekers are shown the door. Leaders fail in this critical aspect at their own violent peril.

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17 February 2009

The Necessity of Speaking With One Voice, or the Problem of Speaking With One Voice?

One of my research participants observes,
if nobody’s asking questions, that implies to me that there’s not enough thinking being done ... because anybody who thinks that a business should be one big harmonious family has never had a family.
I've found that more-UCaPP organizations tend to question more, and do not see questioning and "a culture of inquiry" (as another participant described it) as a threat. In fact, they take quite the opposite view! If a decision is made and it is not a consensus decision, more-UCaPP organizations tend to come back to those decisions, and if they are problematic, tend to reopen them in a fashion that seems to be more organically responsive to the circumstances among the various members with which the organization has valence bonds. On the other hand, more-BAH organizations insist that once a decision is made the issue is closed, and all good members should "sign up" for that decision. Dissent is seen as weakening the fibre of the organization; those who continue to question decisions are seen as negative and accused of not being team players. In point of fact, they aren't team players, and that is always problematic in a BAH environment. BAH needs teams; UCaPP needs collaborators, and that makes all the difference.

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10 February 2009

Open Seminar Tonight: What Haven't You Noticed Lately

Tonight, I'm giving my talk/playshop, What Haven't You Noticed Lately: Achieving awareness in a complex world, at Derrick de Kerckhove's Mind, Media, and Society graduate course, and it's open to anyone who would like to join in the fun. I'm planning to do is an overview of Marshall McLuhan's thinking frameworks, with a special focus on the Laws of Media tetrads and advanced applications. This is essentially the seminar I gave at the Agile conference last summer which was selected as one of the Best of Conference, with some added activities and more advanced applications. If you want to understand what I mean when I refer to reversals, obsolescences and retrievals (the other one is enhancement/enablement) you should come.

This seminar is open to all, and takes place this evening, Tuesday, February 10, from 19:00 to 21:00, in room 400, Alumni Hall at St. Michael's College at University of Toronto, 121 St. Joseph Street.

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08 February 2009

What to do When the Methodology Isn't Quite Working? Have a Zen Conversation

I'm taking the "philosophy" part of "Doctor of Philosophy" sort of seriously as I continue my thesis work. As regular readers will know, I'm working way down at the philosophy-theory layers, more than the theory-practice, or praxis layers. Through the tremendous and fortunate inspiration of Pam, I discovered the philosophy of Nishida Kitaro, and the concept of basho - that metaphysical place from which relationship emerges. From basho comes the ba-forms of the valence relationships that comprise a major component of the centrepiece of my thesis.

I have also decided to use fictional narrative conversations between a Zen master named Nishida and I to capture the aspects of my process for the thesis. These will be interstitial chapters, if you will, that are sprinkled among the more rigorously academic thesis chapters. The chapter in which I describe basho and Nishida's work will be one such chapter; "The Problem of Knowledge" and musings that I captured in my post asking for the word to replace that special [something] that tacitly connects people will be another. Last week, I was contemplating a problem with a limitation I am finding in my use of Grounded Theory methodology. The answer was a conversation with Nishida about mountains:
“Why do you climb the mountain?” he asks.

“Because it’s there?” I reply.

“No so good a joke, but an acceptable answer for some. But why do you climb the mountain?” he insists.

I ponder that simple question. Why do I climb the mountain? We sit in silence, meeting one another in basho, he more confident than I that the key to insight is on that metaphorical mountain. Of course!

“Because…” I begin, “because the key to insight resides with the mountain.” I am careful to be as non-specific as befits a student of his particular brand of philosophy. I continue: “There are insights to be found at the base of the mountain and among the surrounding foothills. There are insights scattered along the way that leads from the well-explored flatlands to the slope that I intend to scale. There are insights at the summit, perhaps the best view of the overall insights to be seen.”

“And?” He waits, with that slight smile crossing his face indicating that I am indeed on the right path. The right path!

“And there are insights that can be discovered on the mountain path, on the journey up the mountain itself.”

He frowns. “What of the journey downward? Are there no insights on that path? Is it the same path up as it is down, even if there seems to be but one path?”

Now it’s my turn to frown. Just as you can never step twice into the same river, it’s not the same path up as it is down. I missed that one, and it is so obvious – in retrospect. “No, sensei. The path downward is a different path than the one leading upward. Each direction provides its own insight.”

“If your intent is to explore the paths, then you are right. The direction matters. If, however, your intention is to explore the mountain, why are you distracting yourself with the path?”

Busted! Never, ever try to outsmart your sensei.

“Why do you climb the mountain?” he asks again, very calmly, very patiently. He waits. Again, the smile.

“I climb the mountain to discover the insights that reside with the mountain.”

“Then why do you insist on climbing it? If you find yourself at the summit, you can discover what you seek by descending. If you find yourself in the meadow, your quest for discovery will lead you to ascend. When you are on the mountain path itself, you must travel by both ascending and descending to complete your journey. Only when you can reconcile the various directions and the unique insights they reveal will you uncover the knowledge you seek.”

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07 February 2009

Flying Solo Again: A New Type of Leadership

A few months ago, TVO launched their Flying Solo series in which very short excerpts from conversations between the person, and producer Wodek Szemberg, are posted online, and broadcast as TV interstitials. My first one was on belief that I blogged about here. In the second Flying Solo excerpt, I muse about a new type of leadership that has been exemplified by now-President Barack Obama. (I recorded this conversation in March, 2008, long before he was even a confirmed Presidential candidate.)

Referent leadership is indeed the most powerful form of leadership and, in my view, the only form that is truly consistent with a UCaPP world. Leaders who must be infallible, decisive (meaning coming to a quick, independent decision), and always consistent (thereby "proving" their infallibility, taken as a proxy for credibility) are artefacts of Industrial Age thinking. By creating the right conditions in a UCaPP organization, collaborative leadership is not only possible, but - according to some of the findings of my research - remarkably efficient, effective, resilient, and yes indeed, referent with respect to those who would be led and inspired.

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04 February 2009

A Letter to My MP, Copied to Ignatieff and Harper, Concerning SSHRC Funding in the Budget

Dear Dr. Bennett,

I have recently been made aware of a proposal in the budget bill currently before Parliament concerning funding provisions for the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Specifically, the wording appears to stipulate that the temporary additional funding for an additional 500 doctoral, and 1000 master's scholarships be "be focussed on business-related degrees," (unless the wording is taken literally as written, which would direct ALL SSHRC grants to business-related degrees – I cannot believe that any Canadian politician would be that short-sighted with regard to the future of Canadian research).

My concern is that the such a stipulation would, with one broad brush, prejudge the usefulness and innovation of research that is conducted throughout the academy, that happens not to be located in business schools. My own case is illustrative. I am now completing a PhD in the department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Technically speaking, my degree would not be business-related. However, my specific research, "A Valence Theory of Organization," is fundamental to the future of all business and management education, and has great potential for reconceiving the basic premises of business management and leadership itself. (I essentially ask and answer the question, "why haven't we updated the foundations of management education, and principles of leadership, motivation, innovation, etc. for over 100 years?") Details of my research can be found on my weblog (address below) under the label "Valence Theory of Organization." I am currently publishing aspects of my research, even prior to completing my thesis, and have been invited to speak to many audiences, including international audiences of CEOs, and other business leaders.

Under the proposed provisions of the budget, it seems that my research would not be eligible to apply for the additional SSHRC funding, since my degree is in education, although my research is not. Similarly, there is considerable research performed throughout other social science disciplines that are not strictly related to "business degrees," yet have direct applicability to the future wellbeing of Canadians, and Canadian businesses, communities, governance, and our collective ability to thrive in a complex, contemporary world. What is needed - indeed, demonstrated and supported by my own research - is more extensive and diverse approaches and thinking, that will in turn create the most success, innovation, and ability to appropriately react to complex challenges. Narrowly focusing SSHRC funding to favour business degrees is an example of "Industrial Age," deterministic thinking – the type of thinking that is entirely inappropriate and counterproductive in our complex world.

I urge you, as the Member of Parliament who represents me in Ottawa, to work with your Liberal caucus colleagues to remove this limiting provision of the budget, now that it is in committee.

Mark Federman, Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
OISE, University of Toronto

Resident of St. Paul's riding.

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Open Seminar on McLuhan Analytics Next Tuesday - You're All Invited!

I've been invited to give a seminar to Derrick de Kerckhove's Mind, Media, and Society graduate course next Tuesday evening, and so you're all invited, too. The seminar I'm planning to do is an overview of Marshall McLuhan's thinking frameworks, with a special focus on the Laws of Media tetrads and advanced applications. This is essentially the seminar I gave at the Agile conference last summer which was selected as one of the Best of Conference. If you want to understand what I mean when I refer to reversals, obsolescences and retrievals (the other one is enhancement/enablement) you'll want to join in the fun.

This seminar is open to all, and takes place next Tuesday, February 10, from 19:00 to 21:00, in room 400, Alumni Hall at St. Michael's College at University of Toronto, 121 St. Joseph Street.

On a related note, I just found an article that I wrote last summer in the context of presenting this seminar at Agile: What Haven't You Noticed Lately? An Introduction to Applied McLuhanistics, available in PDF form for your downloading pleasure.

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03 February 2009

Philips Customer Care Apparently Doesn't

I have a Senseo Coffee Machine, made by Philips. It is a great coffee maker - a perfect cup every time, complete with a crema-like foam on top. Although it uses coffee pods, they're easy to make with my choice of coffee (currently, I'm drinking Second Cup's Sumatra Mandheling for everyday). It also has a plastic lever that engages and releases the locking mechanism.

Occasionally, a vacuum forms (particularly if the grind is too fine or it's tamped down too enthusiastically), and the lever is difficult to lift. The instructions say that it might take some force to release. Unfortunately, a week ago that force ended up breaking off one of the axle connectors on the plastic lever.

I downloaded the service manual and disassembled the head assembly in five minutes. The lever part number was in the service manual, together with a Philips Customer Care phone number. I called. After I explained that I wanted to find out how to source the spare part the polite attendant put me on hold while he went to find that information. He came back and told me that he did a Google search and could not find how the replacement plastic lever could be obtained. A Google search! The same one that I did (he found the service manual). He advised me to take the machine to an independent appliance repair place (typical minimum disassembly charge: between $75 and $100). "From where," I asked, " would they get their spare parts?" He didn't know.

I then went online to Philips Customer Care website, filled in the web form with all the details, including the part number, and the fact that I had already disassembled and diagnosed the problem. Their response? "Contact our Customer Care phone line." I wrote back, once again relating the complete story, including the fact that I had already gone through the Customer Care call centre to no avail. Response two: Our Customer Care Manager will investigate and contact you within 2 to 3 business days.

It is now 5 business days later, and no word from Philips. I ask you, how difficult is it to call the Service Depot and arrange for what must be a $2 part to be sent out to a customer? Philips might make some great products (like the Senseo), but their Customer Care is minimal and frustrating in my experience.

Epilogue: I do recommend Loctite Super Glue All Plastics for hard plastic repair. I've never had good luck in the past bonding hard plastic that had to take a lot of pressure, torque, or heat. The broken part of the coffee maker lever has to take all three. I used the Loctite product, let it sit for a day, reassembled the Senseo, and had great coffee this morning.

Yay for Loctite! Boo for Philips!

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In Memoriam: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, "The Big Bopper" Richardson

Today is the 50th anniversary of The Day the Music Died. Some musical tributes to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

And, of course, we can't forget that classic anthem to The Day the Music Died by Don McLean.

Fifty years gone, yet the inspiration of their gifts lives on among countless musicians and fans.

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02 February 2009

Finally, An Explanation for Donald Trump

Not to mention most of the people who comment on Globe and Mail articles! Principles of the American Cargo Cult offers some guiding principles to explain the simplistic, causal, and self-centred approaches that often (mis)inform public discourse. Here's a taste:
  • Certainty is strength, doubt is weakness: Admitting alternatives is undermining one's own belief; changing one's mind means one has wasted the time spent holding the prior opinion.

  • The end supports the explanation of the means: A successful person's explanation of the means of his success is highly credible by the very fact of his success.

  • You can succeed by emulating the purported behavior of successful people: To enjoy the success of another, just mimic the rituals he claims to follow.

  • There is no long term: Don't miss an opportunity.
And there are a bunch more!

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01 February 2009

TO City Council is Obviously Drinking Water Directly From the Lake

Otherwise how can you explain the absolute lunacy that this news represents?
In the short term, the best option appears to be installing a vinyl curtain around the Sunnyside swimming area to keep out dirty water from the Humber. Bids are now being invited for firms interested in installing a curtain, in time for this summer's swimming season, to enclose an area about 200 metres long, and up to 30 metres offshore, just in front of the Sunnyside Pavilion. The winning bidder will also have to install a small water treatment plant to keep bacteria within acceptable levels inside the curtain (i.e., they're going to chemically treat the lake water). The cost of the project is estimated at $1 million over three years.
In other words, the Toronto City Council is tendering a $1 million project to install an in-lake swimming pool, complete with a mini-treatment plant to purify a miniscule fraction of the lake water. And, they're also planning to "remove existing sand at the water's edge and replace it with clean sand."

The effect is, as I said, an in-lake swimming pool in a location that already has quite a fine swimming pool, except for the fact that the City claims that it can't afford to keep swimming pools open! Hello? City Council? Here's a newsflash: Try taking that $1 million and putting it into keeping existing swimming pools open!


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How to Theorize (and potentially respond to) Market Changes

I realize that this post will elicit a "yeah, so?" response from many of you. It's obvious. But, as Marshall McLuhan noted in his very cool book, From Cliché to Archetype, "In retrospect, all great discoveries are obvious."

My friend (and new mother), Leigh Himel, mused among her blitherings that "reinvention is the new black." She tells the story of how Hermes shifted their business from making saddles to producing high quality, hand-crafted, leather bags when the demand for saddles declined. In conventional business-speak, they leveraged their core competencies to respond to shifts in market demand. (I shudder even to write that absurd lingo.)

How does Valence Theory explain this shift? Among the key consequences of Valence Theory is the principle that everyone that shares multiple valence relationships are legitimate members of the organization (although some may have stronger relationship bonds than others). This means that the constituency known as customers, who might share economic, identity, and socio-psychological relationship connections with an organization, are de facto members of that organization. Combine this idea with the consequence that if you change the members, or the nature of the relationship, or both, you change the organization, and therefore, you change the purpose (mission, vision, but not necessarily the tactility) of the organization. By considering what aspects of the relationships change by understanding the feedforward dynamics at play, members of the organization can help a new purpose to emerge.

In the case that Leigh relates, there was no change to the knowledge-valence relationships among the members, nor the identity-valence relationships between members and the organization itself. Clearly, the economic-valence relationships changed, with fewer saddle purchases. However, certain members' identity- and socio-psychological valence relationships shifted as owning automobile began to signify a certain status and prestige that parallelled the status and prestige previously acquired from being a member of Hermes' valence organization. Change the nature of the relationships, and you change the organization - especially its emergent purpose.

Some might say that the Hermes story is obvious in retrospect (see the McLuhan quote above). It certainly isn't obvious to the entertainment content industry. Interestingly, it isn't obvious to the education industry, the government industry, and most management schools. Among the things I like about Valence Theory (you know, besides the facts that it comprises the core of my doctoral thesis and I invented it) is that it provides a thinking framework for those members of organizations who want to understand the complex dynamics of their enterprises in relation to the world that we all share. It helps them anticipate change, respond in a humanistic and helpful way, and maintain their awareness of the effects they create: who do they touch, and how are they touched, each day.

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