Sunday, November 9, 2008

Where's the Healing Belief?

[This case study shows one successful example of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)]

Sophie (all identifying details are changed) complained one evening about her disappointment that specialists couldn't operate on her ears to end her stuttering. I perked up, and told her I am a Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). I have used NLP to help people heal allergies, performance anxiety, dyslexia, overeating, tobacco addiction, and the inability to experience orgasms. I shared a few stories about my work and offered to trade sessions: her motivational interviewing skills for my NLP skills.

Warning! Don't start that way—my bragging may have incited her, unconsciously, to "knock me down a peg." A better path would have been to direct her to articles on NLP and stuttering for her to evaluate before agreeing to my help.

We agreed to trade four sessions. My sessions with her were difficult. She really believed in the numbers and diagnoses offered her by western medical science. For the third session I came ready with a method to try. She only went through the motions without imagination, intention or investment. She smiled as we finished as if to say, "Is that the best you have?" and admitted that she really hadn't been into it.

Here I paused for a long time. She believed that experts shouldn't have to stop and think (remember that poor start!). I defended my right to think, and kept thinking.

Something very powerful sat behind that smile. She said she felt her problem had a biological cause, meaning that it was permanent and unchanging. Yes, that was the belief. Thus the desire for surgery because that would be a biologically-based intervention.

But, she had already mentioned two counterexamples (instances when the problem didn't occur). I reminded her, "If, as you say, it is biological and something that never changes, then you should stutter all the time. The biology should prevent you from talking fluently to animals or fluently when imitating someone."

Her turn to pause. She admitted that was right. She said I had destroyed the belief structure she had built her whole life around. I apologized for destroying her belief (this time remembering to stay one-down and cautious). That ended the third session. We never had a fourth.

When we crossed paths two months later she spoke fluently. I stood amazed. "I want to thank you. I've gone from about 70% fluent to 90-95% fluent. And I was totally resistant!" she beamed. What made the difference? "When you helped me realize that it wasn't biologically based."

Many people limit their ability to permit a change (that is, healing) because their belief about their suffering only includes a few ways a change process might work. Bringing the client face-to-face to times when the belief does not hold true may be the only key she needs for her transformation.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Everyday Leaner

Anything done more than once can benefit from kiazan-taking a few moment to think about how to eliminate waste. Normally conducted by a group, anyone can look around for ways to streamline their work. For one of my projects I had the task of summarizing five winning proposals in a contest to suggest transforming our health care insurance mess. That's another area full of waste but not a topic for today.

For the first 40 page proposal I tackled I followed these steps:
1) I read through the proposal and made margin notes appropriate to the five sections of my final summary: Executive Summary, Financing, Delivery System, Management and Migrating the System.
2. Went through proposal a second time and typed in what I had found into a computer. Each heading had a page and I moved back and forth in the file to the appropriate page as I moved through the proposal.
3. Edited my document for formatting, spelling, readability, grammar, etc.

This process took 9 hours, an hour more than the 8 hour my client and I had estimated. I felt mentally wiped out.

As I sat in kaizan, I saw that most of my time was spent sorting and placing sentences in the right section. I also noticed I had to work my way through the proposal twice. In a previous project I had discovered the one click paragraph sorting function in modern word processing programs.

What if, I imagined, I dealt with the proposal just once. To do that I had to sit at the computer and enter sentences as I went. And, if I let the computer do the sorting, I just needed to make a table and put a symbol in the first column. So X would show a sentence that would go in the executive summary section, M would later find its way to the management section, and so on.

I could see a need for one more column for a secondary sort (showing if a sentence should be closer to the top of the summary or nearer the bottom). The outer columns served as scaffolding and would ultimately be removed.

My next proposal, just 20 pages, took just under 4 hours using this scheme. Makes sense if the first one took 9 hours and was 40 pages. But it felt much easier and I ended up with my mental juices still flowing. Actually, parts of me disbelieved I'd actually done the work right because it felt so easy.

So the new steps became:
1. Read proposal and type notes and quotes in one long three-column table.
2. Highlight the whole table and sort on the first and third columns. This put it in order by section and within section.
3. Remove first and third columns.
4. Convert from table to text.
5. Continue with editing and finishing steps.

As I type this I can envision a system that eliminates the use of tables. This would be an advancement as then I could compile a summary in any text program or even email and later sort it all using my word processor.

Office tasks are the next frontier for the application of lean concepts. With this project, the first 40 page document took me about 9 hours, the other four, including a 200 page book, took about 4 hours apiece. From a potential total commitment of 45 hours lean thinking shrank my work down to a total of 25 hours, an improvement of almost 45 percent. Looking only the 4 I applied my lean thinking to-my work withered from 36 hours to 16, a savings of 56 percent. And preserving my mental health was a surprising bonus.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Soft? Skills

I've deconstructed my reaction to "soft skills." Partly, I dislike people labeling other folks work in any less than equal status terms. Who gets to do such labeling? It's disrespectful.

Semantically, hard has two antonyms

HARD <---> SOFT
HARD <---> EASY

If both Soft and Easy have the same antonym then subliminally

SOFT = EASY

So soft skills must be easy skills, not worth paying attention to, much less paying for.

With all the emphasis of the privileged 'hard skills' like math and engineering we drift further from sheltering everyone and openly celebrating our interdependence. Perhaps this imbalance is silently dissolving the love that binds us to each other and all living things.

Never to criticize without offering an alternatvie, we can call these skills what they are: people skills, communication skills, negotiation skills. Human skills. Loving skills.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Daily Lean

I am an self-taught when it comes to Lean Production. This is one of the names given to the revolutionary (still) insights generated by the Toyota car company beginning in the 1950s. It is also called Toyota Production Method (TPM) and Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), Just in Time, and other names.

One part of the philosophy of lean is try out the small adjustments, if they work, keep them until more adjustments occur to you. Here's an example.

I ride my bike as transportation. I have enjoyed this activity in two cities. I have to lock the bike whenever I leave to have a good chance of seeing it when I return.

This requires a lock and key. The key hangs on my lanyard along with my whistle around my neck. When I use the lock the cord wraps and hooks sometimes around anything available, causing frustration and delay.

So, I get a new bag that has a two-part key chain. The type where you can detach the keys from the ring.

Enter creativity :: I moved the detachable key ring to my lanyard.

Now, it's very easy and I had to adjust to the change (remember to use it).
That was success for about three weeks, when more creativity :: I could delete the detachable key ring and use the lanyard clip that's been there all along.

Now I lock my bike and there's no tangled lines and accessing the key and replacing it takes just a few seconds.

Monday, August 25, 2008

This Page Intentionally Left Blank

Sometimes I get formal material in the mail purporting to give me information I need to make some complicated decision like how to vote my six shares of a stock. As I slog through mind numbing financial/legalese I come to a mostly blank page with this right in the middle ...


This page intentionally left blank.



And my head reels. This page isn't blank at all—There's a sentence right in the middle of it! Another example of how we drive ourselves batty. A better way?:

On this page?
Just three lines.
Now, go on.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Double Yes, Part II

After writing my first blog on the double yes syndrome (July 6) I have begun to notice it's effects on other areas. One is pooled money: when a group has contributed dues/taxes, etc. into a common pool, the fiduciary managers of that pool of cash act in ways collectively (which means by vote or consensus of the separate individual leadership group) that most of them would not behave privately. Often this means spending the groups money at a higher level than they would with their own funds.

Another instance of the double yes (DYes) is when a decision is made by a group. In Single Yes (SYes) micro-cultures the members participating in the discussion put their best thoughts out ahead of the decision. They attend to the accepted process and work within it. This is the intent of Roberts Rules of Order and other parliamentary systems.

But watch with the DYes: the group decides, and then continues to hash out the decision! Say a condo meets at its annual meeting and decides that a longer ladder for accessing its flat roof would be wise. All quickly agree. One of the members, not necessarily on the board, continues with the research of the ladder and locates a modern ladder that could serve. Suddenly there's a flurry of concerns about unauthorized access. In DYes micro-cultures that is perfectly acceptable and not a cause of friction or notice even. For those raised with a single yes this is troubling as it shows once again that a decision in DYes culture is the START of discussion, while a decision in SYes cultures ENDS discussion and starts action.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Go Ahead, Plan All I Want

Productivity?

Ha, despite my considerable efforts to find just the right way to "get things done" my time, own body and flow of events conspire to make that something that floats away like so many clouds.

Due to that, I have come to a conclusion that I cannot precisely plan beyond a day, day and a half, perhaps two. What I need to do gets done. i know because I find my old lists and see that lots of the items can be checked off. I know a pending due date looms, and here I am at a bar enjoying happy hour.

Dangest thing, I feel/know rather than think/know this is the right thing to do. Tomorrow will be productive. Or, so that's always the lure and promise.

Right now, for example, this is happening:
I have an application due to King County Procurement on Tuesday 7/29/08 at 2 PM or sooner, no exceptions. They make a bid deal about that, but the unfairness, if any, creeps in under door sills, not by letting anyone slide on the due dates.

To get said application in I need to check my draft (spelling and grammar mostly and the writing can be utilitarian), make changes and then
Print out the Original
Make five two-sided copies (4 for the appl, one for me)
I'm pitching for three sections, so I do this three times,
prepare the cover sheet for each stack
copy my final files onto a CD
prepare the package
double check everything
get it downtown the day before/the day itself is a failsafe option.

Five days later I have a workshop on Insider Change I'm facilitating. So ...
Finish my Powerpoint and handouts (entails making some decisions about the flow and what to put in/leave out).
Make 25 copies of the handout. Wild guess this one.
Update website to reflect the workshop and some tweaks to bring it up to what I envision it to be. Most of the text is ready, so it's a matter to formatting and remembering what little I understand of CSS and using it.

The website will take about 8 hours/one full day. It will be a psychological study, with my hopes pushing me to try things my meager skills can't deliver. I'll need lots of rest, and time to review the manuals and other stuff to figure out things. Finally, I'll have to settle for something because time has run out, and off it will got to the web. And I'll make a note to make more changes later.

Sunday, 8/3/08 I'll have to make circles on my calendar to take the time off.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stand

"Yes, I've taken a stand, and my peers who took the other position will fall into their customary tactic of name calling, put downs, and attempting to falsely associate my actions to other parties that are independent of myself and make their own sovereign decisions. These shameful schoolyard, childish maneuvers have no place in our [organization, town, city, state, nation, world].

"As they may seem unable to limit or control their bitterness, meanness and thinly veiled violence by words, I ask everyone to help place a cushion of concern around them and what they say.

"Let them speak. Finish what they have to say. And, by not agreeing nor disagreeing with their content, point out the wickedness of their manners. Show up the attacks, list them. Then remind them of the affirming choices they have the option to make to remain constructive members of our common community.

"I caution myself, and those who work to sustain a working common area where we speak and talk as mature adults, that finding support among enough of us to discourage this behavior will take time. We ourselves will become the focus of a full load of their venom, that's for certain.

"Prepare yourself, know what you intend, and stick to the issue of etiquette and manners.

"I suspect this tragic pattern developed when we learned two behaviors in our youth. One, under the watchful eyes of our parents, teachers, coaches, and other responsible adults, taught us polite behaviors. If we were well raised, we learned how to disagree without being destructive or disagreeable.

"The other, out of sight of adults, had very few limits. Those behaviors unleashed our meanest sides as we teased, scratched, kicked and otherwise fought each other seeking to dominate one another. Over time, as the rest of us fell silent and watched, the remaining children seeking dominance kept fighting each other.

"We left childhood with a split personality. Now we see the price we paid, the majority of us who fell silent, for our withdrawal. Our space in the middle where we ought to be able to come and talk as peers and respectful equals is soured over with behavior no kindergarten teacher would tolerate for a moment.

"As we grew older, then it appears we have allowed our tolerated social behaviors to grow younger. As 'up we grew down we forgot,' to quote ee cummings.

"Unlike the notion in physics that nothing stops unless acted upon by an outside force, in our human world we can apply brakes by acting from an inside force. You and I know our feelings, we can not let our capacity to uphold a workable public zone be allowed to drift without someone minding the rudder. Indeed, we can step up to the helm and within ourselves, as a first step, commit to support positive public discussion of controversial views. We can make it known in advance by letter and when offered a chance on the media channels that we look forward to counting the positive ways things can be discussed. We will note the negative manners that are a throwback into immature schoolyard tactics.

"Once you have that first inner decisiveness to uphold a positive common arena, look to find another that shares that hope. Find a small action to begin with and experiment.

"This is vital community work. The space where we come to debate and decide we hold in sacred trust. We seldom speak of it in those terms, but consider that no one person "owns" it, and when it we honor and protect it we receive in return mutual acknowledgment and support for participation.

"We know the rules: lets list them and abide by them:
  • Attack the problem not the person.
  • No putdowns.
  • No disrepecting.
  • No personal attacks."

Virgin Mobile Update

Got a call from VM a few days after the 4th of July. Turns out, they approved a refund and I could expect a check within 5 weeks. Opened my mailbox today and, viola! my check! Took 9 working days.

Well done, Virgin Mobile.

In the meantime I got my new cell and number and we're back in (mobile) business.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Beware of the Double Yes Syndrome!

The double yes is a communication phenomena. It's two or more people making an agreement, and making the same agreement again. For example:

Person A: Let's have lunch next Friday, at 12:30 at The New Great Cafe.

Person B: Yes, let's do that.

[a few days pass]
[Late Wednesday or Thursday B send an email message to A]

B: "Are we still on for lunch on Friday."
A: [reply]. "Yes."

What just happened? If you think this is a single agreement to have lunch you will sometimes find yourself in a confusing conflict (for both parties) with someone who sees this as a double agreement.

Look again in slow motion ...

Person A: Let's have lunch next Friday, at 12:30 at The New Great Cafe.

Person B: Yes, let's do that. Alert! This is an agreement or promise. With a person needing only a single "yes" this completes the planning. With someone unconsciously using a double yes pattern, this just starts the planning.

[a few days pass]
[Late Wednesday or Thursday email from Person B to A.]

B: "Are we still on for lunch on Friday." Alert! Too little time left. Person A may be busy, distracted, or away from email. This is B's effort to complete the planning.

A: [reply]. "Yes." A is replying a "confirmation" but is confused because he or she already felt that the lunch appointment had been made and settled.

Can you see how this pattern can wreck havoc? What if A misses the email yet still goes to the restaurant as agreed. B doesn't show. When asked later, B says "well, you didn't confirm."

That's just two people, this pattern can ring throughout a board, team or organization.

Most rules of order, such as Robert's Rules of Order (RROO) and Consensus decision making, rely on a single yes philosophy. The streamlined pattern (for RROO) is motion, second, discussion, amendments, voting. The assembly has made its decision: basically it passes (yes), or fails (no). There's no provision for additional "confirmations" of the vote.

I live in Seattle, a city particularly prone to the "double yes syndrome." Many people who grew up here or anywhere along the west coast live with the yes-yes pattern. People from single yes cultures like the South, Midwest and Eastern parts of the USA find themselves intermittently clashing with their yes-yes colleagues, friends and neighbors.

What's going on here? I finally found my answers (I'm a single-yes guy in a double-yes town) in a Wiley Business paperback I snagged for one $ at the Exchange (salvaged stuff from the town dump) on Orcas Island. The book? I Wish I'd Said That by Linda McCallister, PhD.

She has three main communication styles I'm going to rename Direct, Complete and Comfortable (her names were Noble, Socratic and Reflective). The Direct style translate in this case to the single yes camp. These communicators seek to quickly "cut to the chase," state their feelings and opinions briefly and expect the same candor from you, will vigorously argue a position until a decision is reached then implement (whether won or lost), and consider talking about details a waste of time.

The Comfortable style of communicators are the double-yessers in our little fable. This communication style prefers to help other people feel cozy in the exchange, skirts conflict, and will smile and agree though inwardly in disagreement. So a first yes means "sure, I'm comfortable making this plan." The confirmation step is when Comfortables get real, "Do we really intend to do this?"

To round it out, the Completes talk to every point and leave nothing unstated. They enjoy ideas, and don't want to think anything has been overlooked. This means they are likely to be a single-yes styled person due to the completeness of the initial discussion. something like ...

A (Direct): Let's grab lunch downtown on Friday and catch-up.
B (Complete): Hm, will there be any games that day snarling traffic. B imagines likely complicating factors.

A: Oh, Not sure, let's meet then in Capitol Hill, I need the exercise anyway.
B: Might rain. Perhaps A has not thought about walking uphill in the rain.

A: Rain or shine. How about meeting me at Tres Cool Cooks, they do a fabulous lunch.
B: All right, see you there 12:30?

A: Deal.
B. See you then.

What to do?

Myself, being a Direct, would have everybody communicate yes once, record it in their calendars and then show up. I'm always forgetting the double-yes pattern. When I can remember I verbally make the first communication the completion of the plan: Okay, you are sure you can make it? As far as I'm concerned this is the confirmation right now because I'll be there.

If you are a Comfortable, you will have to learn that telling people the truth will not send them running from the room never to speak to you again. Let's say in this scenario you may need to use that time for a project, but you don't want to upset your friend. Here's a hint: people are never disappointed with the truth at the planning stage. You're not showing or using a lack of confirmation as a plea to explain not showing up could trigger unpleasant reactions in others. Something you know you want to avoid.

Assume when someone proposes a specific activity, date, time and place they mean it. Take out your calendar or imagine how you anticipate that day working for you. Take a breath and decide whether you can do it or not, right now, not later. If you can't do, say so, and propose a different arrangement. [Geez, I have to be in an important meeting at work that we haven't found a date for yet. It could fall on Friday. Tuesday will work better for me.]

If you like to keep your options open, inform the other person you will take the initiative and confirm by a particular time.

B: I'd like to confirm this on Thursday, I don't know how that Friday will work out.
A: Well, I'm in meeting all day Thursday. If you change your mind, it helps to both call and email me. I don't always check email after a long day.

B: All right.

More resources:

A blog entry on these styles (with the names McCallister used)

Publishers information on the book

Enjoy finding out whether you are a single or double-yes agreement maker and let me know the results in the comments area.

John

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Customer (dis)Service?

I'm in the middle of a common issue with a large corporation. There's a problem. Relatively small for both myself and the billion dollar corp. It matters not exactly what it is. The attitudes and options of all parties is what interests me. But for clarity, here's my letter to the CEO of Virgin Mobile which I sent along with my non-working cell and copies of the relevant receipts and instruction booklet.
_______________________________________________________________
John Perkins
5201 22nd Ave NE #201
Seattle WA 98105
206 524.4496

June 27, 2008

Mr. Dan Schulman, CEO
Virgin Mobile USA
10 Independence Blvd
Warren NJ 07059

Re: Balance Held by VM
Phone #:*** ***.****
Customer names: Julene Weaver/John Perkins

Dear Mr. Schulman:

I have been a customer of VM since November 2005. The service has been superb.

I have run into a problem and you may be the only person who can solve it.

Relationship summary:

Date Activity

11/05 Purchased VM Kyocera phone/service from Radio Shack (RS).

08/07 Purchased a top-up for one year @ $90.

06/08 Phone malfunctions, troubles begin.
±$60 balance remaining.

The phone no longer works. Try it. I returned to RS to discover they needed my vkey/PIN. The short of it is that the salesman at RS (at time of purchase in 05) entered the online information and mistaken told us the wrong number to pay attention to as our vkey/PIN. Human error. We have entered over 30 variations with no luck trying to guess this number. Frustrating. I send you copies of our paper documentation.

I'm asking you, as CEO, to authorize VM to return my balance. You may need to re-examine your no refund policies before approving this.

In all fairness,



John E. Perkins, III
________________________________________________________________
Dealing with VM is a dance of frustration. To call in to the customer service number means working past about 6 or 7 steps with their automatic voice responder. Each time.

Then I go over the history, each time, and they invariably say what's the answer to the Question, in this case favorite pet. We don't know as we never entered that. Then, they say well, nothing we can do. So I point out they are holding my $60 and I would like it sent back. And we start at the top again about needing the pin/vkey, etc.

So, next I called into the headquarters on a toll number and got the identical run around. But, get this, when I asked who the CEO was so I could send him a letter the CS rep (and after a pause, her supervisor) said send it to the customary complaint address I can find on the web. This is a slip on their part for two reasons: 1. the name of the CEO is easily found via other means. So give up the name. Or send the Money. And, 2) The usual complaint route will have the same rote response as I'm getting from the phone in Customer Service. Like I want more of this!

The following day, I got a call from D. who eventually said that the phone I mailed in would probably make its way to him and he'd take a look. I had told him I would most likely get another VM phone (price is the best for my needs, still). He said he'll see what he can do to make me whole because he didn't want to have a customer for 2.5 years to continue with a bitter taste in his mouth. The right attitude, at last. Can he come through? Stay tuned.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cross-cultural dialogues

After mentioning that two current movies (see recent posts) would be good for cross-cultural discussions, I reminded myself that not everyone would approach these matters in a productive way. Sometimes these conversations "just happen" and given the relative skill level of each person in the conversation the experience can range from crappy to lifechanging. A random method is not one I would recommend.

Why? Ongoing relationships and the building of mutual good will sufficient to continue a discussion over time sometimes suffer when people talk without sharing a culture of what is "too far" or provocative. Especially if someone hurt during the conversation has no means of asking for a change in the rules or norms and also may be viewed as vulnerable or weak relative to the other discussants (who stay a bit one-up due to not revealing any vulnerability).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Two Movies Worth Checking Out

Over the past week I have attended two exceptional movies. Both are "mainstream" but take viewers to the edges of our understanding of what we can do to, with or for one another.

Towelhead

As part of the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) I got to see Alan Ball's first directorial pix: Towelhead. This from Time:

By mid-August, audiences should be ready for something provocative enough to jar us out of our special effects-induced stupor. Enter Alan Ball, the Oscar winning writer of American Beauty and Six Feet Under, the George Lucas of the dirty-little-suburban-secrets genre. For his directorial debut, Ball adapted a novel by Alicia Erian about an Arab-American girl growing up and coming of age in Texas during the first Gulf war. Newcomer Summer Bishil plays the lead; Peter Macdissi is her strict father, Aaron Eckhart an Army reservist whose head is turned by his young neighbor. Towelhead has all the makings of the best of Ball: precocious teens, narcissistic parents, uncomfortable sexuality, cutting cultural commentary. And, in this summer movie, the aliens who teach us about ourselves aren't CGI.

And this from Apple:
TOWELHEAD follows the dark, bold and shockingly funny life of Jasira, a 13-year-old Arab-American girl, as she navigates the confusing and frightening path of adolescence and her own sexual awakening. When Jasira’s mother sends her to Houston to live with her strict Lebanese father, she quickly learns that her new neighbors find her and her father a curiosity. Worse, her budding womanhood makes her traditional and hot-tempered father uncomfortable. Lonely in this new environment, Jasira seeks friendship and acceptance from her neighbors Mr. Vuoso, an Army reservist, and Melina, a meddling but caring expectant mother. Thrown into an unfamiliar suburban world, Jasira must confront racism and hypocrisy at home and at school - and at the same time struggle to make sense of her raging hormones and newfound sexuality. Her boyfriend, Thomas, though a few years older, provides some comfort - but even that relationship causes problems when her father discovers that Thomas is black. Surrounded by adults who are just as lost as she is, Jasira yearns for understanding, even amidst often brutal acts.
Summer Bishal aced this role. Alan Ball came to Seattle for this showing to a packed Egyptian Theater. He said she walked in during the first week of the call for this role. She was 18 but looked 13. Her "character arc" takes her from pawn between her divorced parents to a "somewhat in charge of herself" person. Hard to do at 31 much less 13 and as a minor. She begins to make choices amidst steady swirls of decisions made for her.

I grew up in a family with strict rules among a community with families with strict rules. Parts of the ending don't read fully likely to me, but there's a lot of variety out there in the secret lives of suburban families. Could be as vital for cross-cultural conversations as Crash was a few years back.

The Visitor

My comment about Towelhead being useful for cross-cultural dialogues applies equally strongly to The Visitor. Interestingly enough, the actor who played the father in Six Feet Under has the lead in this sleepwalking-white-guy-awakened-by-a-little-bit-of-soul movie. From Matchflick:

'The Visitor' is an extraordinary film, able to captivate an audience with its simplicity and humanity. It stars the terrific Richard Jenkins as Walter Vale, a widowed college professor still deeply saddened by the death of his beloved wife. He no longer seems to care about anything, especially not his job; but he is called to deliver a paper at a conference in New York, so he leaves his suburban home in Connecticut and flies to the Big Apple, where he has an apartment he rarely stays in. He finds it is occupied by two illegal immigrants, Tarek (Haaz Sleiman), from Syria, and Zainab (Danai Gurira), from Senegal. Kindness compels him to let them live there until they can find another place, and he befriends the extremely amicable Tarek. Zainab is not as trusting, it takes her a while to warm up to Walter, and what helps that process along is a shared love of music. Tarek is a musician, and introduces Walter to exotic African drum beats, and Tarek helps Walter overcome his self-imposed introversion, by introducing him to new people and injecting some joy and fun back into his life.
Tarek gets arrested on the way with Walter to play drums in Central Park. He then enters the Kafkaesque world of immigration prisons, lawyers, and limited legal rights. The facility where Tarek is taken, Walter learns, is in a distant area of the Bronx, run by UCC, United Corrections Corporation (fictional company based on private prison corporations). A visual reference to the privatization of correctional work. To the director's credit, no verbal reference is made to this fact. The building is windowless and Tarek in a later scene says UCC's idea of "outdoors" is one of the cells with the roof cut out.

Though Walter had begun to make the transition to African Drums the movie's pacing still felt European Classical. Still, the frustrations of dealing with a "justice" system that is clearly "unfair" shows up the tragic ironies that the abuse of powers sprout.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Announcement: Facilitating Change by an Insider

Come attend the best kept secret for professional development: The NW Facilitators Guild of the ICA (Intercultural Affairs). On Saturday, August 2, I'll be the featured presenter.

FACILITATING CHANGE BY INSIDERS

Description

Is it possible for organizations to live up to their own highest ideals? YES!-with the right approach. Come learn how the same four-stage method that insiders used to lead Quakers to abolish slavery and major league baseball to integrate can be applied to achieve change in any organization. As facilitators, we can help people rekindle their passion to see their values in action. This presentation will include
  • Discussions on how to support and coach for change by our clients (who are insiders by definition).
  • Details from two historical references demonstrating how to use this method.

Bio
JOHN PERKINS, Ph.D. is a Solution-Focused Consultant and a founding partner of Keep the Change. He has a B.A. in Economics from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in Organizational Change from Union Institute. Safeco Insurance Company awarded him a Rudy Award in 1994 for his ability to "cut through the fog and get the job done." Keep the Change Press released his latest book, Get Off the Dime!-Courageous Board Governance Through Sensemaking, in October 2002. He is currently working on a book about the interweaving of powers and loves in our lives and communities. He is a long-time member of the ICA Facilitators Guild. You can reach him at 206 524.4496 & johnp@ktchange.com.

Time and Date: 10 AM - 2 PM, Saturday, August 2, 2008

Fee: $5

Other contributions: Bring food or beverage to share for the potluck lunch.

Location: We'll be meeting at the 2100 Building, 2100 24th Avenue South. Seattle, WA 98144-4632

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

BarCamp Topic: Bringing Insights from Game Designers into the Workplace

It happens that I attended my first BarCamp over the weekend of June 14 & 15. One session I attended is the title for this entry. But to zoom out a level, BarCamp itself has the quality of a "game" of the infinite variety, not the finite kind. What are finite and infinite games, you ask?

Words I once used to describe the infinite game characteristics of Open Space Technology can apply equally as well to BarCamp. BarCamp builds the context for an entirely different type of game: an infinite game. As James Carse says in Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility (1986), "A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play" (p. 3). BarCamp has many of the attributes of infinite games. Plus, the experiences Carse attributes to infinite game players could as easily be described by participants in BarCamp.

Finite games have ranks, levels, winners, losers. Infinite games have enjoyment, laughter, learning. Finite games are played to win, infinite games are played for the joy of playing.
Quotes
It is an invariable principle of all play, finite and infinite, that whoever plays, plays freely. Whoever must play, cannot play. (1986: 4, emphasis in original)

Infinite players cannot say when their play began, nor do they care. (: 7-8)

While finite games are externally defined, infinite games are internally defined (: 8).

Infinite players play best when they become least necessary to the continuation of play...The joyfulness of infinite play, its laughter, lies in learning to start something we cannot finish
(: 32). An interesting feature of Open Space and BarCamp is that the organizers and facilitators are noticeably casual and laid-back. They can be seen comfortably talking with others while the event is in full bloom.

To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as though nothing of consequence will happen. On the contrary, when we are playful with each other we relate as free persons, and the relationship is open to surprise( :19).

everything that happens is of consequence (: 19).

In infinite play one always plays dramatically, that is, towards the open, towards the horizon, towards surprise, where nothing can be scripted (: 31).

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Keep the Change Blogs Pre-Release V. 1.0

This becomes a step in renewal my web "brand." I am going with all diligent speed to construct a new web site. Current idea is that my web page will be my own construction to start with, and it will be an iterative project, that is under constant little tweaks and improvements.

I must straddle the space between my innate need to create and innovate and recognition that in this medium, honey, don't even try. It's not my chosen field, for one. Writing and consulting are. And, two, the bar is much to high & technical. I would need of machinery I have neither the interests or means to acquire. And lots of classes teaching me more than I need to know and how to do things I will never do. And, see, I want just about everyone to have an easy experience with my sites and blogs, so if I can decipher how to construct them they'll probably stay fairly simple.

I have two concerns right now, can I delete a message? Can I go back and edit for corrections I notice down line?