Perhaps when it comes to helping us understanding how our custard-like brain works, how mind and brain relate, what an odd phenomenon consciousness is and so forth, the brain is just being shrewd . . . crazy like a fox . . . intuitively sensing just how bizarre this whole subject actually is. To my knowledge, no one has made this “bizarreness business” more entertaining than science fiction writer Terry Bisson. One of his Omni Magazine stories contained this exchange between an alien explorer who has just returned from a visit to Earth and his commander. Apparently, several versions of this dialogue have shown up on the Internet, but this is the one I like best:
[Explorer] They’re made out of meat.
[Explorer] There’s no doubt about it. We picked several from different parts of the planet, took them aboard our recon vessels, probed them all the way through. They’re completely meat.
[Commander] That’s impossible. What about the radio signals? The messages to the stars.
[Explorer] They use radio waves to talk, but the signals can’t come from them. The signals come from machines.
[Commander] So who made the machines? That’s who we want to contact.
[Explorer] They made the machines. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Meat made the machines.
[Commander] That’s ridiculous. How can meat make a machine? You’re asking me to believe in sentient meat.
[Explorer] I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. These creatures are the only sentient race in the sector and they’re made out of meat.
[Commander] Maybe they’re like the Orfolei. You know, a carbon-based intelligence that goes through a meat stage.
[Explorer] Nope. They’re born meat and they die meat. We studied them for several of their life spans, which didn’t take too long. Do you have any idea of the life span of meat?
[Commander] Spare me. Okay, maybe they’re only part meat. You know, like the Weddilei. A meat head with an electron plasma brain inside.
[Explorer] Nope, we thought of that, since they do have meat heads like the Weddelei. But I told you, we probed them. They’re meat all the way through.
[Commander] No brain?
[Explorer] Oh, there’s a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat!
[Commander] So … what does the thinking?
[Explorer] You’re not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat.
[Commander] Thinking meat? You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat?
[Explorer] Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you getting the picture?
[Commander] Omigod. You’re serious then. They’re made out of meat.
[Explorer] Finally. Yes. They are indeed made out meat. And they’ve been trying to get in touch with us for almost a hundred of their years.
So Archie Bunker turns out to have been a sharp-eyed neuroscientist, after all!
What is the bottom line, the moral, if you please, for this clever piece of sci-fi dramaturgy? How about this one: whether you are on the outside looking in (Sisson’s alien) or on the inside looking out (us Sisson meatheads), the brain is always central to understanding what’s happening, no matter discombobulatingly circuitous the route between what’s out there and what we actually conclude is happening. It may be meat but as Dr. Steven Hyman, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, observes, it’s a choice cut. “The human brain,” he says, “is probably the most complex structure in the known universe.” Its one hundred billion neurons are, or would be were they to be struck end to end in a continuous thread, more than two million miles long.
Neuroscientists suspect that each neuron is directly connected to an average of about ten thousand other neurons. Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine, notes that this makes the brain home to about one million billion of these links. “The number of possible ‘one-off’ patterns of neuronal firing is immense, estimated as a staggering ten times ten one million times (ten to the millionth power),” he marvels.
More than that, we’re stuck with the brain’s “my way or the highway” centrality to what’s going on. Edward O. Wilson, the renowned pioneer of sociobiology and biodiversity, reminds us, “Everything that we know and can ever know about existence is created there.”
Wilson continues, “The human brain bears the stamp of 400 million years of trial and error, traceable by fossils and molecular homology in nearly unbroken sequence from fish to amphibian to reptile to primitive mammal to our immediate primate. In the final step the brain was catapulted to a radically new level, equipped for language and culture. . . . The result was human nature: genius animated with animal craftiness and emotion, combining the passion of politics and art with rationality, to create a new instrument of survival.”
Thinking about how best to help you perform in dolphin-thinking waters, we need to do a reality check on our views about human nature. Older theories about human nature are proving tenacious in the pre-dolphin-thinking mind, but in the minds of people paying serious attention to what we are rapidly learning about the way the world really works already know better. One of our key assignments as dolphin-styled thinkers is to utilize the full powers of our new ways of thinking about human nature becomes second nature.
As readers of this blog, readers of my books, participants in any workshop longer than 30 minutes that I’ve designed and anyone who has ever asked me who the most seminal influencers of my career have been know, I have an outsized regard for the intellectual skills of a most remarkable, if often underappreciated, researcher and theorist named Clare W. Graves. He was a psychologist, and a very unique one.
Like another iconoclastic psychologist of his generation, the late George A. Kelly, in the 1950s, Clare Graves was coming to suspect that the differing psychological systems of the era were multiplying rapidly because “the people who developed them were focusing their attention upon somewhat different events.” (Kelly often referred to the theories of psychoanalysis and behaviorism as the Conventional Wisdom of the Dominant Group, a designation that one of his followers later shortened to COWDUNG!)
I’ve also been a fervent admirer of the work of two of the most competent academicians using Dr. Graves’ theory in their personal research and writing: Christopher C. Cowan and Dr. Natasha Todorovic, of Santa Barbara, Calif.
DR. CLARE W. GRAVES
(Photo courtesy of Christopher Cowan; used by permission)
Cowan was the primary creative wellspring behind the writing of a tour de force
for academicians and other serious scholars attracted to the Graves theory: Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership and Change/Exploring the New Science of Memetics
(co-authored with Dr. Don Edward Beck), published in the mid-90’s. Cowan was a confidant and close colleague of Clare Graves in the final decade of his life and for nearly forty years has done extensive applied research into uses for the Graves model.
If not the first, Dr. Graves was one of the first visionary actually to see and to cite hard evidence of a revolutionary new way to describe human nature. In doing so, he was one of the very first challengers of the late Abraham Maslow’s idea that there was a ceiling to we humans’ psychological development, one that Maslow called “self-actualization.” Once fully self-actualized, we supposedly had nothing new to add to our mental, emotional and spiritual toolkit of personal developmental possibilities. Graves torpedoed that idea by doing research that turned up people who, as he phrased it, had made “a monumental leap.”
I once asked Cowan and Todorovic what we should expect to see in the way of personal characteristics in individuals who are approaching the point where they might be candidates to make that Gravesian leap, and they provided this list:
• Relativistic: situationalistic and context-dependent behaviors.
• Attracted to religion (again).
• Many alternatives and each to his own.
• Many alternatives—choice made on the basis of feeling, not knowledge or rules—service to others.
• Considers intellectually, but conclusion does not follow logic.
• Negative sensitivity to control by authority; sensitive to peer group and situation.
• Tendency to criticize but not cynically or snidely in a way to lead to change.
• “Each to his own, others have their way, we have ours, not mine to judge.”
• Chameleon-like character: when I FEEL this way I do this.”
• Centrality of life is people and friends.
• Superficial approach to solving problems of the world (they go away).
• Shows negativity around only one thing—hurting other people.
• “Things should be different, but I’m not the one to change them.”
And here’s what the Santa Barbara researchers say they would expect to see in someone who has made the leap:
• Relativistic: situationalistic and context-dependent.
• Conclusions follow logic.
• Do not stop from doing something even if it may hurt someone’s feelings or people are hesitant.
• Matter of fact responses which describe reality of what “is” in a detached though interested and concerned manner.
• Allow other person his/her point of view and still have his/her own point of view.
• Impulsivity and compulsivity are absent.
• Absence of fear.
• Ability to be critical without rancor.
Few things are more inspiring than listening to the great man himself as he described what he believed he was seeing in folks who have made the transition to this new level of maturity. Here is a snippet of his observations on how ethics change for us when, as we like to say around Brain Technologies. one of us succeeds in entering dolphin-thinking waters:
“Ethics that are good for man in his life, not after life; that are good for him, not his superior; that are good for him, not his group; that are good for him, not his ego … no bowing to suffering, no vassalage, no peonage. There will be no shame in behavior, for man will know it is human to behave. There will be no pointing of the finger at other men, no segregation, depredation or degradation in behavior… a foundation for his self-respect, which will have a firm base in reality [in an] ethical system rooted in human knowledge and cosmic reality.”
From Chris Cowan, firstname.lastname@example.org:
Wow . . . And thanks! You continue to impress with your generous tone and writing, Mr. Lynch.
Looking at the word Wow—probably a mind worm wriggling—likely came up because we returned last week from the WOW5 conference at the U. of Indiana: “Workshop on the Ostrom Workshop #5″. It was a gathering of political scientists, many social game theorists, who assemble every five years to compare notes. Most were trained by Elinor (Nobel prize in economics) and Vincent Ostrom at the Bloomington school. We . . . found that all these global scholars tend to miss the human factors in analysis. They look at ethnography and demographics, but do not delve deeper into why participants in social games make the strategic moves they do. An exceptionally collegial and welcoming bunch.
We were invited to attend by [a Brasilian consultant] who did a couple of our courses and whom we let use assessments to see if there was a relationship between game performance (most of theirs are build around CRP—common resource pool—decisions such as managing a fishery, distributing water rights, dealing with forests, now atmospheric carbon, etc.) and levels of existence. Surprise! The more F-S [Level 5, or shark] the more collaborative and willing to compromise for win:win solutions. The more D-Q [Level 4, or carp], the less willing to bend. They’ve been largely discounting the personality dynamics of the players and are now scrambling to fill in the gap in their analyses.
If you missed out on our initial roll-out and are wondering what the hubbub is about, you can find a quick fly-over introduction to our new soft-skills-building training format here and here.
What has really been rewarding about our unveiling of a new “play book approach” to using dolphin thinking insights and methodologies in times of declining corporate training budgets has been the spontaneous upwelling of approval and enthusiasm the idea and our approach have generated. It turns out some of the friends of “59 Minute TeamBuilding” are new to the scene; others go way back. Some we’d lost touch with. And with a good many, we were never in touch to begin with personally, at least not until now.
To those below and the others who have volunteered their thoughts, please know that you have our profound gratitude for getting in touch for the first time and/or staying in touch:
DR. GIUSEPPE PLATANIA, creator of the Ideodinamica brief-therapy method and professional life coach, Turin, Italy, www.ideodinamica.it
Today I finished reading your awesome book. I want to express my sincere admiration for the importance, completeness and usefulness of this work. The learning process is designed with extreme care and attention in order to protect the investment of money and time spent by the participants. It has absolutely practical applicability, distinguished from too many theoretical courses that plague the world!
GARRY ADLER, Owner, TEBU TeamBuilding, Sydney, Australia, www.teambuildingactivities.com.au
I think Strategy of the Dolphin was one of the first books I bought and it sits on my bookshelf. I still pick it up the book and read it from time to time and enjoy the read. It has stood the test of time!
DR. SEAN BROPHY, Organizational Behavior Consultant and Life Coach, Dublin, Ireland, www.seanbrophy.ie
Congratulations on your scholarship and the enterprise revealed in your innovative approach to team building. I’m enthused to find so many useful slants on the various instruments, especially on PathPrimer. Aside from team building, your guide is excellent as an adjunct to a coaching engagement. I wish you continued success with all your endeavours, you mighty man!
DAVID PATIENT, Owner, Empowerment Concepts, Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, South Africa, www.empow.co.za
We have used Strategy of the Dolphin for years. It is a brilliant tool. In a South African context, it is even more relevant today than it was 20 years ago.
RUTH LOGIE, Enterprise Architect at Standard Bank of South Africa, Johannesburg
I’d first like to tell you that Strategy of the Dolphin was a mind-opening book for me, and I thank you for that. There is an enormous amount of work that has gone into this [new] concept.
ADAM LINDEMANN, Managing Partner, Mind Fund Ltd., Venture Capital and Private Equity, Hong Kong
I first read Strategy of the Dolphin as a young man of around 20 years old. It was funny the other day, an entrepreneur said to me that he was initially not sure whether I was “New Age” and then he realized I was too practical to be so, but that he realized that I was not a selfish or a predatory shark. I explained confidently that I was a Dolphin and showed him the stuff Dolphin in my office. For now, I would just like to say thank you from both sides of my Dolphin mind and my human heart for helping me to demonstrate that a Dolphin can not only succeed in the world, but that indeed the future of civilisation depends on us succeeding.
Cartoon courtesy of Thomas Karlsson,
Agile Coach at Softhouse
If you yourself aren’t involved in big-time software development or don’t, say, have a serious client or close friend who is, you may not be aware of some of the latest organizing concepts in this highly influential technology sub-specialty.
I’m referring particularly to the kind of ideas that often travel under one (or all) of these identifiers: lean, agile or scrum.
You’ll get a far more nuanced introduction to these buzz words and the sacrosanct workplace practices they represent from people who closely track them. Sinan Si Alhir, who blogs here, is a worthy example. Consider this enthusiastic sentence he uses to introduce the agility model to his blog readers:
We live in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world where we are challenged to be thriving on chaos in an age of discontinuity — where the past is plagued with incoherence & inconsistency, the present is plagued with chaos & ambiguity, and the future is plagued with unpredictability & uncertainty!
Alhir also has an excellent PowerPoint presentation I’d recommend to any newbie to the lean, agile, scrum scene. In it, he provides us such tidbits of context and history as these:
Lean has its roots in the Toyota “just in time” production system of the late 20th Century. The idea is to identify value and strive for perfection in producing it. Si Alhir recommends James Womack’s and Daniel Jones’ book, Lean Thinking, as good background reading.
Agile practices stem got their start in the design of high-performance fighter jets. Chet Richard’s book, Certain to Win, is a go-to source for details on agile approaches. Since these ideas are from the military’s neighborhood, it’s no surprise that they are usually described in slam-bang fashion: Observe, orient, decide, act.
Scrum refers to a way of designing the work. In Si Alhir’s words, it refers to “a simple team-based ‘inspect and adapt’ framework to organize work around ‘complex’ systems and products.” Its insider’s vocabulary is well stocked (and stoked!) with terms like ScrumMaster, Burndown Charts, Daily Scrum Meeting and Information Radiator.
I like the sound, the vitality and the no-nonsense character of all this because much of it closely tracks with the dolphin thinking qualities I’ve been advocating now for about a quarter-century.
For example, I’ve been telling folks that there is a kind of automatic problem-solving quality residing in our heads that, if we can activate it, will leave us reluctant to go to conventional workplace meetings any longer. Why? Arrogant as it sounds, in 95 meetings out of a 100, once you activate these thinking qualities, you will know a lot of that what needs to be done next not long after you walk in the door, if not before.
You might want to ask, “Why not go anyway and share your insights?”
Because the dolphin thinker quickly comes to realize that business meetings are mostly attended by three kinds of people: those who don’t want the problem solved, those who don’t want the problem solved on any terms but their terms and those who don’t want to hear any possible solution until they have had a chance to explain—and often argue strenuously—why they don’t think there can be one.
Dolphin thinkers would much prefer to invent new circumstances where old problems simply can’t find their way back in. Rather than attending meetings, they would much prefer to be busy instituting change.
This explains why dolphin thinkers have so often kept themselves in the background unnoticed, knowing that “Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we should remain silent”?
“You have read Wittgenstein, I see,” I can hear you saying, dryly.
Not really that much. I often find the enigmatic Viennese philosopher virtually unreadable. I think many individuals who have picked up a copy of his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus will agree with me.
But I like his whereof/thereof quote. And I like his comment that his philosophy is intended to “show the fly the way out of the fly-bottle.”
I don’t yet know enough about the progress of the lean-agile-scrum movement in software development to know whether this is actually turning out to be a dolphin-thinking-like idea or not.
My suspicion is that the “push for speed” ambitions of this movement without concomitant attention to some of the so-called soft-skill needs of the workforces involved in the end often leads to the same old, same old.
If that is the case, then there is a set of ideas that travels under another four-letter buzzword that I heartily recommend be added to the mix.
Nevertheless, I get excited when I come across folks who are saying things like this: “Simplicity‒the art of maximizing the amount of work not done‒is essential.”
That’s from The Agility Manifesto. You can read all 12 of its principles here, and if you are involved in training, coaching, leading or seeking to influence teams responsible for producing complex outcomes in fast-changing environments, I’d really recommend it.
From Brian Branagan, email@example.com:
Thanks, Dudley, for opening the conversation about the need for bringing “soft-skills” to those working with Agile/Lean/Scrum methods for delivering value to customers. I enjoyed reading about “The Agility Manifesto” since I’ve been introducing these practices to teams for over 10 years.
In addition to the books Sinan Si Alhir recommends on his site, I highly recommend that “emissaries” bring along the “Language of Business” skills you describe in your book, Evergreen: Playing a Continuous Comeback Business Game, and a knowledge of Clare W. Graves work you describe in LEAP! I also recommend Dr. Fred Kofman’s Conscious Business and Denning and Dunham’s The Innovator’s Way.
I’ve relied on these books as a resource to deal with the breakdowns I’ve encountered after introducing Scrum methods to teams.
The first breakdown was with the Daily Standup ritual where a team stands around a board with three columns: Work to be Done, Work in Process and Work Completed. On the board, there are Post-its describing tasks that take anywhere from one day to three days to complete that are moved from the first column to the third column over the course of a focused two-week period of work called a Sprint.
In a Daily Standup, each team member declares their progress. They commit to doing something by a certain date, they assess their progress for work they are doing or they say they have done something. If anyone needs help, this is the place to ask for it.
Sounds simple enough, right?
What I saw occur in the first few iterations were people who had difficulty in declaring commitments, making assessments or making requests as described in Evergreen. I realized that this is a core human skill that is probably not taught in computer science classes. I was able to provide some one-on-one coaching to team members so that they could move from needing to be seen as an Expert to becoming recognized for their ability to be a Learner.
The second breakdown I saw was between the Scrum team and the stakeholders of their work. It was not uncommon for a “Shark” stakeholder to demand the team take on an additional work item in mid-Sprint. Sometimes this could be handled by simply substituting it for a task of comparable size that had not yet been started. There were other times, however, when the stakeholder said that that was simply not possible.
This is where the “Language of Business” skills described in Evergreen and Dr. Kofman’s book can be useful so one can stay engaged with a frustrated person without being overwhelmed by their negativism. I’ve found Denning and Dunham’s book and their Eight Essential Practices for Innovation to be very helpful here, too.
Again, thank you for opening up new possibilities for bringing your ideas into new worlds of work and life.
Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung would have called it synchronicity. I call it downright irritating.
Less than 24 hours after our talented graphic designer delivered Brain Technologies’ new “59 Minute TeamBuilding” logo (below), an American tire company began promoting a national TV advertising campaign called “59 Minute Quick Tire Install™.” And If that wasn’t already one synchronous step too far, there was also the tagline I had created for the logo: “Where tomorrow meets the road.” I will cheerfully admit that I based this idea on a tagline that has long been associated with—yes—tires (“where the rubber meets the road”). You can forgive me for thinking that no good idea goes unpunished.
Nevertheless, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the several months I’ve spent producing the facilitation guide for “59 Minute TeamBuilding.”
As is explained elsewhere on this website, the idea behind the concept is about as simple as making biscuits with Bisquick®.
THE IDEA IS GROWING
YOUR TEAM'S CAPABILITIES
STEADILY AND ECONOMICALLY
It doesn’t have to break the bank or crowd the schedule for you to “grow” your people and your teams. It doesn’t even require your to be a seasoned training, coaching or HRD/OD professional to pull it off.
And this isn’t merely another simplistic do-si-do around the training room dance floor. It’s an exhaustively tested, carefully syncopated, professionally coordinated week-to-week “game plan” for getting everyone on a work team deeply involved in the task of getting better and delivering more with the natural thinking skills they possess. And doing it collaboratively and with a reasonable amount of ongoing enthusiasm.
Putting the sinews of “59 Minute TeamBuilding” together sent me searching my files and my memory for “the best and the rightest” from more than three decades of facilitating team-building sessions.
Money-wise, benefitting from what materialized from my quest requires the investment of a ridiculously small amount of corporate or organizational pocket change. All that is needed to get started is to place an order for enough of our BrainMap® self-discovery assessments to supply everyone on your team with their own copy. That order also qualifies you for an e-mail copy of our 125-page “59 Minute TeamBuilding” facilitation guide and script free of charge.
After that, you simply need to find “an hour, less a minute” each week for as long as people are saying “Why didn’t we think of this sooner?” and let the valuable learning times roll!
ONE OF OUR EMAIL PROMOS
ON OUR NEW TRAINING CONCEPT
My favorite exercise is probably the one I suggest for Week 6, which is the second session (if you follow my suggested schedule) using BTC’s mCircle Instrument®. The activity is called “Win As Much As You Can.” I certainly didn’t invent the game and by no means was I even an early user. But I’ve been using it for nearly a quarter-century and have always found it an effective approach for providing my participants with new insights about the value of cooperation.
Well, nearly always.
Not long after the government broke up AT&T, I was asked to spend a few hours in Miami Beach with a group of managers and employees at one of the company’s surviving fragments. The HR people who invited me wanted the conference attendees to explore new ways to cooperate. I thought this might be a good opportunity to use “Win As Much As You Can.”
The changes and upheaval within AT&T at that point were too much to permit this group to generate any serious interest in cooperating even if they were merely play-acting.
Quickly, the room dissolved in riotous pandemonium that refused to be calmed. Not even the bosses on hand could restore order to the room.
As I remember, we simply abandoned the exercise and broke early for dinner.
Moral of the story: Be sure you get people to commit to making good things happen together before you ratchet the drama too high.
“59 Minute TeamBuilding” shows you how to quickly get a team focused on the things that matter, and the effect just builds and builds and builds.
I have a set of bowl-like items—some plastic, some metal, some actually food bowls from the kitchen—that I’ve taken with me all over the world.
Customs officials have looked at me strangely but have never asked why I carry around the basins or what they are used for. I think they may assume that I’m another oddity collector, one with lamentably poor eyesight or strange tastes.
If they ever want a demonstration, I’d have to line up my basins on the customs counter and then find my marbles, which can be anywhere in the jumbled contents of my materials trunk. I can just picture the snickering as the word spreads in the customs house: “Guy’s lost his marbles, too!”
By the time we earthlings reach the thinking level that, more than a quarter century ago, Dr. Paul Kordis and I named the dolphin level (as opposed to various earlier varieties of mind that we called carp and shark thinking levels), we generally know where our marbles are—and those of the people we deal with—to an unprecedented and amazing degree.
Demonstrating this is the purpose behind my basins and marbles. I use them to help people visualize how the mind matures.
The marbles are reds and blues. And the basins come in ascending sizes. The first is quite small, no larger across than a silver dollar. The next one is more the diameter of your average citrus orange. Then comes one that is the width across of, say, a Frisbee. And so forth, each one larger than the one before. Seven in all, all of which I keep under wraps—under a cloth, actually, like a magician does his or her props—until I’m ready to bring each one into view.
It is the final moments of my hour-long demonstration that usually bring a “you can hear a pin drop” quietness to the room. My first six basins are now out in full view. The three on the left contain a red marble. Those on the right, blue marbles. Each of these basins represents a stage, a stopover, for the mind, I’ve explained.
Red-marble stages are strongly individualistic. I put the bowls for those on the left side of the table. Blue ones are strongly oriented to the family, community or other groups. The bowls for those go on the right side of the table. And the bowl pattern is a zig-zag one because, as the creator of this model, the late Dr. Clare W. Graves, the gifted American psychologist, suggested, the dominant geometry of the mind’s development has been a spiral. The larger the basin, the more complexity and mobility, the more realness, the more knowledge, the more cosmic reality . . . the more functionality and flexibility our mind is capable of mobilizing and utilizing.
Until a few decades ago, every human alive and every human of history had assembled a mind for themselves from this grouping. There didn’t seem to be any other choice. Some individuals stayed at early stages and built worlds for themselves where technologies were simple and the emphasis by necessity was on simply surviving. Others moved on, diminishing some of the dangers and expanding others, making more sophisticated tools, adopting more and more sophisticated ideas and systems and ways to interact.
For the longest time, this was it. There were no other options for fashioning a mind.
Then, bro, nitro!
Suddenly, not long ago at all, just a few decades, we humans appear to have experienced our own Big Bang. Of the mind.
At this point in my demonstration, I reach beneath my prop cover-up and bring out another basin. Instantly, it is obvious that we are in another dimension. This basin is huge, dwarfing all the others. I set the new entry down some distance away from the original six.
“Dolphin waters,” I announce.
I do not know who the first dolphin thinker was. But I believe I’ve talked to more than a few. In my books, I’ve sought to augment their insights with personal experiences of my own.
I’m very fortunate in that, as an itinerant philosopher and instructor of thinking skills, I get to commingle regularly with ambitious souls who want to “be the best they can be,” always searching, probing, inquiring . . . always thinking about how most effectively to discard the old and move on to the new.
I have no scientific survey of the world’s seven-plus billions to offer (and know of no way to structure or finance one anytime soon). And I freely acknowledge that my personal universe is a long way from reflecting the whole. But I offer this educated guess: that 5 to 8 percent of the adult population of the world’s economically advanced countries are capable of making the momentous leap to dolphin waters.
Those who succeed don’t regularly make the headlines or the talk shows or otherwise stand out in the media because their serious thoughts about issues and solutions typically find few hospitable receptors in the brains of interviewers or reporters—being too broad, early, radical, difficult, complex or indecipherable, or some mix of all this. But, if nothing else, the explosive rate of change in the new millennium is one indication that a growing number of these kinds of minds is around.
At the end of my demonstration with the bowls and marbles, I give all my participants a marble of their own and invite them to place it in my out-sized bowl.
“Something new is here,” I observe. “And given what’s happening and what’s needed in our world, the arrival of dolphin thinking skills is very timely.”
Our first Brain Technologies associate in Denmark (and in Scandinavia, for that matter) is traveling a fast track. Claudia Lindby is already generating media coverage in Copenhagen while she rushes to complete the website for her new consultancy, Claudia Lindby: engage for transformation.
In the past couple of days, two items about her new business and her affiliation with Brain Technologies have appeared in the Danish media. One mention was in the “names” section of Denmark’s most important business paper, Børsen
. I can’t give you a link to it because you need to be a subscriber to access it. But here, Claudia says, is how it read in English:
Claudia Lindby is the first Associate in Scandinavia for Brain Technologies Corporation (BTC), headquartered in Florida and founded by Dudley Lynch, author of three bestselling books. For more than 30 years, BTC’s mission has been to create brain change models, tools and techniques that help people “make the leap.” Claudia Lindby has worked with business and people development for 20 years in Danish and international companies, hereof 17 years in executive and leadership positions. She has built her expertise within change leadership in international and complex matrix organizations as well as in small organizations, and as an independent consultant and advisor.
And then a day later, a similar mention appeared in an online magazine, Kommunications Forum, Here’s the item in Danish:
Claudia Lindby bliver den første partner i Norden for Brain Technologies Corporation (BTC), der har hjemsted i Florida og er stiftet af Dudley Lynch, der har skrevet 3 bestseller-bøger. I mere end 30 år har BTCs mission været at skabe “brain change” modeller, værktøjer og teknikker, som hjælper mennesker til at tage det “næste spring”. Claudia Lindby har i 20 år arbejdet med forretnings- og medarbejderudvikling i danske, udenlandske og internationale virksomheder, de seneste 17 år på direktør- og lederposter. Hun har bygget sin ekspertise indenfor forandringsledelse i internationale og komplekse matrixorganisationer såvel som i små organisationer, og som selvstændig konsulent og rådgiver.
Claudia tells us that she’s already received about a dozen phone inquiries about the BTC assessment tools and her consultancy services as a result of the publicity.
You can get a sense of what a veteran of the Danish corporate business scene she is by taking a look at her C.V. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
But you don’t have to wait another moment for a better understanding of why Claudia feels that it is useful to have the BTC tools and models available for her Danish clients and be in partnership with the Dolphin thinking skills and brain-change brands that we have been developing and promoting for nearly the past four decades. We asked her to share her thinking about how and why she brought her new consulting company to our doorstep. Here are some of her replies:
What attracted you to the Brain Technologies’ concepts, approach and tools?
Back in 2006, I left the “classic corporate world” primarily because of a feeling there had to be more to it than working with business development in that rational, rather mechanical way. Even as we decided to include behavior in our KPI’s—leadership behavior—I felt we were missing out on something of critical importance: the human being “at work.”
As an independent advisor, I have since then explored the concepts of behavior and culture in organizations, looking at how we can become better at finding solutions to change that will actually work. Lasting, meaningful change is virtually impossible without the full picture. [NOTE: Speaking of pictures, that's Claudia's new website logo below.]
This is where your work at Brain Technologies comes in. One of the most significant contributions to my own work and development has been the understanding that behavior is just the tip of the iceberg, the visible part of what it means to be human: what ultimately manifests as behavior in the organization is a result of thoughts, feelings, ideas, values, beliefs. . . . Gaining insight into this inner ecology (or, collectively, culture) and becoming able to work constructively with it as a natural part of our change and development efforts is key to create lasting, meaningful change; and BTC’s tools and methods help us do precisely that.
What else do you expect the BTC methods for helping people develop powerful new living, thinking and business skills to bring to Denmark?
Neither our leaders nor we are fully aware of what we are really capable of—a price we pay for fitting in in this very collective culture of ours. They are looking for more freedom to do the right things, things that will actually work—to achieve better outcomes.
WHERE CLAUDIA DOES BUSINESS . . .
Well-known and rooted systems obviously no longer work well enough, and new solutions are increasingly being asked for at all levels of society. Public and private institutions have become too complex, too heavy, too impersonal, and increasingly no longer offer the solutions we need. Everywhere we are looking for better ways to integrate people, technology and organizations, for better alignment, for greater functionality enabling us to do more with less.
Certainly, Scandinavian organizations are not inhumane, but we still do not embrace a full understanding of human beings “at work.” But I believe we are indeed ready to integrate a broader understanding of what works, what it takes to move forward. BTC’s approach and tools can help us become more comfortable with and better at dealing with change, even thriving with it, taking advantage of the formidable energy related to change to create better futures—on a collective organizational level and an individual level.
How do you plan to differentiate “Claudia Lindby: engage for transformation” using the BTC tools and methods? And what will your primary selling points be?
Understanding that we cannot separate business and people but have to include both in change initiatives is a differentiating factor in my work. I will help my client/leaders develop new and better strategies for achieving change goals—for both themselves and their organizations. In a way, I can help them design problems out of existence, always working from the desired future back to the present.
My position in the Danish market is based on my ability to see and work with the full picture when working to get to desired outcomes: including business processes, technology, task flows, etc. as well as the human element—behavior, culture and the forces shaping them.
The BTC tools and methods will be central as I work to inspire and stimulate the full change process with leaders, from research & analysis, brainstorming, discovery, design, implementation and follow-up, and integration in daily work habits.
Well thought out and convincingly said, Claudia! Welcome aboard! And, again, congratulations on the quick startup successes!
And if any of our readers would like more information about becoming an authorized associate with Brain Technologies, we invite you to go here now and then get in touch with us if you have questions. It’s a big, big world, one getting more complicated and chaotic by the hour. We are convinced that in the hands of capable, forward-thinking “intervenionists” like Claudia Lindby, the BTC concepts and tools can provide critical guidance to people and organizations ready and willing to make a difference.
Nietzsche, it was, who observed, “Almost 2,000 years and no new God!”
Philosopher Karl Jaspers allowed that this is true. The most recent great religions all emerged from an extraordinarily fecund “cultural Petri dish” between 800 B.C. and 200 B.C—Jaspers called it the “axial age”—that saw monotheism swept into the mainstream.
In an article in The Economist not long ago, Paul Saffo, the futurist, wondered if it is finally getting close to time once again for a powerful new religion to appear: a new God. Similar forces are again in ferment, Saffo noted: new technologies, new mobility, new insecurities, new unhappinesses spread far and wide by new means of communication.
At the far fringes of today’s contemporary cultural Petri dish, you can already hear the rumbles. What else would you call science writer Joel Garreau’s call for new rituals to welcome scientific breakthroughs into our personal lives, such as those that might postpone aging? One of his suggestions in his book, Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies—and What It Means to Be Human (New York: Broadway, 2006): “A liturgy of life everlasting as a person receives her first cellular age-reversal workup.”
Getting out of the cradle
The question has seldom been more vividly framed than in the writings of Frederick Jackson Turner, who died in 1932. Turner’s book, The Significance of the Frontier in American History
, helped put men on the moon. That’s because President John F. Kennedy was exposed to it as a Harvard student—that and Catholic paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin’s progressive theories about the wellsprings of the human spirit. Turner’s oft-debated “frontier thesis” was this: having a new frontier to explore does wonders for the spirit of human cooperation. The eloquent Edward O. Wilson picked up the inquiry with Sociobiology: The New Synthesis
, especially his inquiry into altruism, one example of which is human civilization itself.
The late Soviet rocket scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky was another “new frontiers”-man, urging humans to think of colonizing the Milky Way galaxy. “Earth is the cradle of mankind—but we can’t stay in the cradle forever,” he said famously.
Dolphinthinkers worry about Earth’s occupants falling into a “zero-sum” game à la Toynbee (A Study of History) and Spengler (The Decline of the West), not to mention Turner, if we run out of genuine new frontiers to explore. For this reason, you should not be surprised to find most dolphinthinkers insistent that humans not retreat from the idea of moving out into space big time. It’s the final frontier and as such, they believe, is vital to keeping our altruism (and perhaps our very biologies) alive.
In the years immediately following publication of our book, Strategy of the Dolphin, Paul Kordis and I took great delight in staging one “how to think like a dolphin” seminar after another.
If you attended one of those three-day events, mostly in the Colorado Rockies, you will probably remember the great delight that the two authors/presenters (and, we had plentiful evidence to suggest, our participants, too, ) got from the seminar’s closing ceremony.
On the stereo, we keyed up Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. Then distributed glasses of chardonnay or apple cider. And after that, invited everyone in the room to join us in an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink toast that went on longer than the Declaration of Independence (with the speaking parts frequently interrupted by the lofting of glasses, of course!).
One of our self-congratulatory accolades in behalf of everyone present (and the rest of the planet’s citizens) called attention to the pure joys of being a sapient life form, perhaps the only one in the universe.
Providing ceremony for a “rite of passage”
We toasted expanding knowledge and thinking skills, especially those of the people there in the room doing all the toasting.
We saluted our responsibilities for making good things happen, and our renewed hopes that they would produce better and better outcomes. Eventually, we got around to hailing the feature that makes we humans so very, very effective when we use it to great advantage: our abilities to get things done by cooperating.
This closing event at the seminar was good sayonara fun with a serious undertow. With everyone’s best intentions at full mast, we sought to hammer home one more absolutely vital idea: We wanted our participants to appreciate that taking up the mantle of the dolphinthinker is a genuine rite of passage.
Once any of us buys into the dolphinthinker’s toolkit of new mind skills, expanded ethos/worldview/narrative and Moses-like (“promised land”) overlook, there really isn’t any going back.
Relentless change brings its own army of apparitions
This has always been the case during the thirty-plus years that Dr. Kordis and I have been tracking the emergence of the dolphin mind in individuals. It’s a reality that we expect to remain unchanged. As we keep reminding anyone within earshot, because of the relentless, sudden bulk-up of the Anti-Certainty Attractor, there’s a towering tsunami of game-changing uncertainly incoming. And, as we prepare for it, moving into dolphin-thinking waters has automatically made you a member of the Anti-Certainty Attractor Ghostbusters corps.
That “Ghostbusters” reference is telling, of course. It suggests that Dan Akkroyd’s and Harold Ramis’s 1984 sci-fi comedy film of that name is one of Paul and my favorite movies, which it is (chalk it up to a certain peculiar aesthetic quirkiness mutually held!)
But once again there is a serious point not to be missed: Nothing is more likely to tilt your use of the dolphin’s thinking skills toward successful outcomes than being able to distinguish between what is real and possible and pragmatic—doable—and what is ghostly, fanciful and even phantasmagorical in times of relentless change.
The final chapter of LEAP! is a kind of toast, too
As it hurls you and me toward an endless barrage of sensorial data, information and misinformation, the Anti-Certainty Attractor will see to that.
The world’s need for ghostbusters is acute, and growing. I had all that in mind when I wrote the final chapter, “Next,” for LEAP! How to Think Like a Dolphin & Do the Next Right, Smart Thing Come Hell or High Water. That chapter is nothing more and nothing less than observations, cautions, tips and insider’s “intel” from the dolphinthinkers’ own spook corps that struck me as significant. Things that the Anti-Certainty Attractor ghostbusting volunteer needs to be sure are never absent from his or her mind for very long.
If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll take a look before long at my musings on issues and ideas that people who wish better ways and better days for the world and all who reside in it need to keep at the forefront of their minds. It, too, is a toast of sorts—to a new kind of potential sitting there undiscovered and undeveloped in billions of people on the planet. We dolphinthinkers can’t “will” it to appear in others, but we can help nurture the ideas and instrumentalities that can “give it legs” in the minds of those we influence most.
I’ve been known to speak of the dolphinthinker’s iron fin.
This is sometime confused with the dolphinthinker’s “iron fist,” but they are not the same. That iron fist is the dolphinthinker’s unmistakable resolve and demand to be noticed and be heeded without further ado (e.g., in life-threatening moments). The iron fin is the dolphinthinker’s audacious, all-defining life-view and, as such, fuels the dolphinthinker’s passion (as I noted in, among other works, LEAP!) for “managing the world,” with a focus on what matters, what works, what makes sense—what’s right and fair and ethical and doable.
This isn’t the only fin available to the dolphin. Other fins can be strapped on to navigate the staples and turns of ordinary life: the little stuff. But the iron fin is the heavy-lifting, brook-no-stupidity, tough-as-nails-when-needed, tenacious, future-conscious one.
If you’d like to try the dolphinthinker’s iron fin on for size—a “trial fitting,” in the department store sense—you might consider using the Einsteinian-like “thought experiment” approach.
Think of yourself doing some of the things on this list of activities calculated to raise the dust and dislodge the status quo:
• Plan a mutiny where it will be least expected. That is, in places where you are a familiar face and a normally tranquil presence. See if you think a rebellion can make a difference; see if it is worth the trouble. (Your author has twice made sparks in a local school system. In one place it worked. In another it fizzled.) Speculate on whether things are going to fizz or fizzle, so you’ll know what your priorities need to be.
• Engineer a difference while in camouflage. Be totally sneaky about it. Cover your traces. Wear disguise. Don’t lie, but use truth strategically. Don’t let up; go into the mission absolutely determined to see it through. Don’t worry about asking permission; just don’t get caught. Don’t worry about winning; you win some, and you lose some. And don’t worry all that much about whether you are doing things in the right way—the point of the exercise is to learn as much as you can about what’s workable on the other side of the ripples you are going to cause.
• Be the difference in someone else’s worthy cause—unexpectedly. Your self-appointed task: to see who you think the sharkthinkers are and how you might neutralize them. Pick something you can be passionate about. Nose around in your imagination to see what really needs to happen here. And if there are no sharks? Well, how about other dolphins? Don’t see any sharks or dolphins? Then this must be a community of carps or NoQuiffs (not-quite-flying-fishes). Not a lot of potential here. Move quickly to fade out and mosey on.
• Advertise! Advertise what? The fact that you are looking for new people to represent the role of the unknown in your life. Call this The Sandwich Board Approach in honor of all those brave, venturesome people who have put themselves and their needs/views/causes/desires in plain sight the old fashioned way: being the message themselves. Be specific about what you are looking for. That is—dolphins! No sharks or carps need apply. And give ‘em a taste of what (1) alarms you most about the direction the world is going and (2) what you think the next local step should be. Think about an arresting rendezvous point to kick things off (make it intriguing, i.e., the local wrecking yard, a place to eat strange foods, a public place where almost no one ever goes).
• Be a contrarian. Trust where others would probably point fingers and cast aspersions. Shrug off both the doomsayers and the utopians and go looking for what works. Accept that there’s a right time to think like a carp or a not-quite-flying fish (“self-sacrificially”). And a right time to think like a shark (“iron-fistedly”). And certainly, more and more times these days when more and more things are going to hell in a hand basket and there’s a critical need to think like a dolphin (”pro-actively combinatorially).
After your thought experiments, ask yourself again, “What is this iron fin and why it is necessary and what is the dolphinthinker meant to do with it?”
The answer is deceptively simple, but it makes sense only if you are willing to understand what makes it so. I believe that is a discussion well worth having. It just might be one of the most important self-insights any of us will ever encounter. Because before a dolphin does anything else with the iron fin, he or she uses it to turn his or her personal world upside down from the inside out. Our dolphin iron fin’s first, main and most critical use takes place in our own heads!
But then if you’ve read any of the dolphin-thinking books, you already knew that.