Posts Tagged ‘politics’

I have the privilege of working as a representative in an exciting, new kind of governance body – a ROUND TABLE. Now when I say “NEW”, the historians amongst you may bristle, and point to the early twentieth century origins in Britain. What Wikipedia doesn’t show is the current use of ROUNDTABLES as more than just a form of academic discussion, but a new way of bringing governance to an often diverse group of stakeholders.

I have been participating on the Core Committee of the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable. The process of forming the Roundtable took years and evolved from the Coquitlam River Watershed Strategy.  When the Roundtable officially formed, it was defined as ” a multi-interest body with members representing various sectors with interests in the watershed. Governments and government agencies are represented on the Roundtable, which is an independent entity, not under government direction. The Roundtable does not have authority to make decisions related to the jurisdictional authority or legislative responsibilities of governments or government agencies.”  Now my initial sentence, states that the Roundtable is a governance body, and ultimately, by having all the stakeholders together, with common goals and common values, it is my belief that the Roundtable will drive decisionmaking through its collective strength. After all this is my BLOG, I can say what I believe without censure.

Ultimately, what I want to comment on at this juncture is that this process is working, and working brilliantly. On a subcommittee tasked with revisioning the website, stakeholders have donated hours of time on a regular basis to work through goals, visions, beliefs and ideas to achieve consensus. This is no small feat. Yet, outsiders working with the group, see us as homogenous.

I see the subcommittee as a diverse group of experienced community leaders, each with a view of the Watershed and the world, willing to share and debate, but even more willing to achieve harmony. Our enemies are time, constraints on our creativity and assaults on our cohesiveness. Yet these very things, perhaps like all opposing forces, only serve to bring us closer. I have great respect for each member of this group, for everything they bring to the table.

How lucky I am to have the luxuries of time, creativity and consensus-building skills so I can participate fully. As I participate, thinking (Roger’s Innovation Adoption Curve) I have spent most of my life as an “Innovator” or “Early Adopter”, and seeing many of the other members as “Late Majority” or  later, I find myself delighted that we are working in a modern process style and exploring extremely innovative ideas. Diversity, when given opportunity and nurture, can point the way to new and successful paths.

My previous post on Monday, August 22, 2011, about Jack Layton, was written before Layton’s final letter to Canadians was released to the media. His words, and media’s response to those words, changed and softened this past week. Jack wrote:

 

My friends, love is better than anger.
Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair.
So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.

 

I am currently listening to Simon Sinek‘s book entitled, Start with Why, and Jack was one of those “why” leaders, akin to Martin Luther King as discussed in Sinek’s book. The publisher writes, “Why are people loyal to some leaders, but not others? Starting with WHY works in big business and small business, in the nonprofit world and in politics. Those who start with WHY never manipulate, they inspire. And people follow them not because they have to; they follow because they want to.” (Watch and listen to Sinek –TED TALKS)

Jack Layton, an inspirational leader, began his career in politics knowing WHY, sharing WHY and explaining WHY. It was only logical that the words he left to be read after his death stopped everyone in their tracks. Those of us already on board smiled and were inspired anew. The naysayers stopped criticizing instantly. They stopped wondering aloud what would happen to the NDP party left leaderless at this critical time. Gobstopped they were. The mainstream media reports of a leaderless ship immediately ceasedwhen those words above were released. Our prime minister, after some consideration, changed his plans. Oh, Jack, you are legend already! I am so saddened by your loss but so proud that you knew just what to do, just when to do it.

As the timid worry that the party will not be strong because you are no longer here in the flesh… I will take it upon myself to remind them!

….and on FACEBOOK I wrote in response to the fear that we have no leader….for now – we will all step up – for the secret IS UNITY, the secret is that we are UNITED. His mission was accomplished in his leadership – brilliant man – one inspired, positive, charismatic leader can pull the party together for decades. We have many, great potential leaders but what they need is all of us, carrying our bit of Jack within, to stay together, to stay positive and to know that the time for social justice and ordinary people has once again come to the fore! Not maybe, but certainly!

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Jack Layton (1950-2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

My tenant and sometime attendant, Geoff, provided the salient points from a book he was reading entitled  Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David D. Burns. For those who suffer from depression, Dr. Burns identified what he saw as the root cause…twisted thinking. I see twisted thinking as a manifestation of the modern world; too much time for thinking perhaps? Dr. Burns identified ten categories of twisted thinking. When I first saw them, I quickly summarized them and shuffled them off by email to everyone I thought would take the time to read them. Brilliant work, Dr. Burns! If intelligent modern humans can recognize their twisted thinking, they can surely alter the course of their thoughts.

Then there is Groupthink…

Groupthink is also a pathology, much as the depression that is linked to the twisted thinking identified by Burns. Some of those appearing below influence the situation surrounding the politics of our tiny village.

Irving Janis devised some symptoms indicative of groupthink (1977).

  1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  2. Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
  3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
  4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
  5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”.
  6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
  8. Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

Groupthink, resulting from the symptoms listed above, results in defective decision making. That is, consensus-driven decisions are the result of the following practices of groupthinking

  1. Incomplete survey of alternatives
  2. Incomplete survey of objectives
  3. Failure to examine risks of preferred choice
  4. Failure to reevaluate previously rejected alternatives
  5. Poor information search
  6. Selection bias in collecting information
  7. Failure to work out contingency plans.

Twisted Thinking – Burns – the individual’s view

  1. All-or-nothing thinking… look at everything in all-or-nothing terms.
  2. Over generalisation… view a negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  3. Mental filter… dwell on the negatives and ignore the positives.
  4. Discounting the positives… insist that accomplishments or positive qualities ‘don’t count’.
  5. Jumping to conclusions…
  6. bullet Mind reading – you think you know what others are thinking
    bullet Fortune-telling- you know what will happen and you know it will be a bad outcome

  7. Magnification or minimalization… blow up things out of proportion or  shrink their importance inappropriately.
  8. Emotional reasoning… You reason from how you feel:  “I feel like an idiot, so I really must be one.” or “I don’t feel like doing this so I’ll put it off.”
  9. Should statements… You criticise yourself to other people with ‘shoulds’ or ‘shouldn’ts’.  ‘Musts’, ‘oughts’ and ‘have-tos’ are similar offenders.
  10. Labelling… using words like “loser”, “troublemaker”, rather than saying the person made a mistake
  11. Personalisation and blame… You blame yourself for something you weren’t entirely responsible for, or you blame other people and overlook ways that your own attributes and behaviour might contribute to a problem.

Combine these two flawed thought processes and there is a cauldron of trouble. The individual works on the twisted forms of thinking and brings them to Groupthink as truths. Information is not gathered, assumptions are not challenged, an illusion of unanimity is created by a vocal few.

Can awareness that these are the processes taking place steer our tiny ship in a new direction? I often comment that the population of our village is no larger than many strata corporations. yet we are a municipality with many responsibilities and important decisions to make. When we abandon twisted thinking and Groupthink we may actually move forward in positive ways. I am ever hopeful.