The Power of Solitude (Part I)
Greg likes to do things in solitude, finding isolation perfect to design life as he wants it.
Interfering with such undisturbed flow of thoughts makes Greg unimaginative, unhappy, grumpy, weakened. It happens when a presumably conscientious supervisor enforces certain restrictions on Greg: time frames; a designated cubicle to sit and ponder; a specific document format, in which suggestions should be presented (on a specific day of the specific week of the month); prescribed vocabulary to use; consultations of findings with a special assessing panel (consisting of special assessors).
Fixing a problem mutates into a problem how to adhere to the rules governing fixing the initial problem. Overloaded by hundreds of little directives, the mind loses its flexibility, constantly searching not for constructive solutions, but for the next instruction. Additionally, enthusiasm to devise something really extraordinary breaks under pressure of that uncomfortable feeling of being evaluated by a group of people, who do not participate in the actual mental activities, but merely stare, grimace and judge.
The above process, popularly defined as “guidelines”, or “code of conduct”, or “systematisation” etc. effectively kills creativeness, leaving just enough of space to fiddle with a microscopic element belonging to the already existing, enormous structure. The bigger view disappears in the dense fog of banalities and common sense suffocates in the systemic grasp.
Below is a very straightforward example of a big drama suffered by an institution in the neighbourhood. The diagram clearly depicts the extent of possible damage, which could stem from deficient feedback between cells D1 and D2! That sad state of affairs has been known for all stakeholders for months!
Many meetings have been run to discuss at length all potential reasons for the breakage of D1-D2 communication, strategies to lessen the harm done, appropriate training or team building exercises that could be introduced. There were unpleasant occasions of finger pointing, brawls involving D1 and D2 staff, even legal threats. All those verbal gymnastics only worsened D1-D2 relations, instead of improving anything.
Inevitably, one of the bosses arrives to a brilliant conclusion: he will assign somebody to discover the causes behind the embarrassing matter. He then selects an ambitious looking individual, whom he calls “D-manager” – an exciting, luring title that implies position of immense authority.
The freshly elected D-manager is sensitised to the D1-D2 trouble as nobody can escape the whirlpool of gossips. No wonder, he feverishly promises to do whatever it takes in order to save the firm’s face. He receives hints and tips from the experienced executive, a friendly pat on the back plus (of course) a tutorial on when, where, how, what, to whom.
D-manager embarks on the mission, not realising that his freedom to act equals zero (a dog on a short leash enjoys more options, being at least able to pull the owner here and there). His brain is indoctrinated to focus squarely on the D1-D2 link, without an inch of gray matter bothered by a pertinent question: WHY? Why must D1 and D2 keep talking to each other? Why are both units so insanely valid to the overall triumph? Why were they established in the first place?
In other words, D-guy operates under pressure of widespread hysteria, i.e. a conviction that D1 and D2 should harmoniously coexist for the sake of enigmatic success. Such beliefs are usually ignited by a few complaints and subsequently fuelled with human appetite for showing off consultative skills (by partaking in arguments to verify wisdom, eloquence, perfection, helpfulness etc.). The scenario is predominantly common in governmental organisations, where emotions tend to replace hard evidence.
Stripped of a privilege of analysing the mess from his perspective, as well as whipped by expectations to deliver results in a strictly prescribed fashion, D-manager develops myopic view plus robot reflexes. His mind is inhibited by an avalanche of influences, so he arrives to a politically correct, almost prearranged, plan.
Instead of sorting troubles out (not to mention unearthing the roots of the crisis), he complicates already knotty interaction pathways by introducing measures of control: two policies, which coerce D1 and D2 to forward information to a new kid on the block – Coordinator DS. That Coordinator will duly regurgitate the obtained notifications and redistribute them back, composing thus atmosphere of calmness around D1 and D2. On the central system’s matrix, D-manager crafts a mini-system – he duplicates big formulas in a mini-form. In Greg’s eyes, he definitely deserves the famous alias: Mini-Me.
Because the solution is not endangering anybody, it is applauded with cheers and whistles, signed by panel of directors, stamped, framed, distributed, implemented. The average employees must now put up with extra D1 and D2 policies, certainly cursing an invisible to them imbecile who had come up with more dumb paperwork. Despite of that general fury, D-manager is honoured with a letter of thankfulness and a day off work.
After a year not a soul has the faintest clue why Policies D1 and D2 have come to fruition, but another riddle is slowly surfacing: where is Policy D-3? If there are Policies D-1 and D-2, logically there should be Policy D-3? (The cleverest notice that bothering inconsistency, inciting many valuable debates.) Department D3 is accused of unsubstantiated favouritism – a sentiment that ruins collaboration between D3 and D2, leading unavoidably to writing up Policy D-3.
Greg often witnesses similar legislative ballet. What mesmerises him the most is the fact that the same people, who blame the Head Office for subjecting them to silly bureaucracy, generate exactly the loathed bureaucracy, just on a smaller (local) scale.
A neutral person would propose something different:
Substructures C1, C2 and Φ have vanished. The whole D-level has collapsed, now forming a subdivision of C. Cell A has been given access to the secrets of Department C. Modes of transportation have been upped.
A mind unperturbed by a choir of official demands sees unseen: redundancy, absurdity, wastage, insufficiency, inadequacy. Likewise, it spots, encourages and reinforces all beneficial components. Furthermore, the conceived concept is validated by active models, calculations, pilot studies or pure deduction.
An unrestrained mind is a dangerous instrument, which throws the fire of truth that reveals hypocrisy. It is an unpopular mind, as it might destroy artificial jobs and futile functions, but reward genuine talents and proficiencies. It abhors characters who seek power, dodge responsibilities, pretend self-worth, maintain inflexibility, deride originality, abuse others.