Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Workable Management Principles

28 July 2019

What would happen if we tried to apply workable management principles (developed by L. Ron Hubbard for the Church) to business, government or our personal lives?

I have been studying a series of courses that teach me how to do just that. But I won’t go into that material too deeply, as you really need to study those courses to get the full meaning out of them. But I have returned to this theme several times, and there is no end to that in sight, as people really do need to think about how to change things so they work better.

Ideal size of a group – fractal organizing structure

In the ideal organization, every part of it is built on the same basic template: Thetan – Mind – Body – Product. The ideal production group is maybe five people or a few more. One takes the role of In-Charge (Thetan), another works on record-keeping (Mind), one or two handle most of the physical work (Body), with another making sure the Product is the correct one for that group.

A part of this concept is that the group members only have to deal with their own senior. They are friends; they get along with each other. And if anyone above their level has a problem with what they are doing, that guy has to take it up with the In-Charge. This helps limit overwhelm due to altitude (how much more powerful someone is compared to someone else).

It’s not that the workers never hear from the head honcho. He can give speeches like General Patton in that movie. But the Captain isn’t supposed to walk into a unit’s tent or barracks and directly discipline or give orders to one of the men; that’s the Sargeant’s job. Same should go for a business organization, a family or a government. So how come everyone has to turn their tax forms directly into the IRS?

This is a form of intimidation, isn’t it? That’s all that sort of management system accomplishes. And they probably do it on purpose. Big centralized organizations tend to be nervous on the subject of control. They know that people don’t really want to just willingly cooperate with the whole setup. After all, they (at the top) know it wasn’t set up to benefit the guys at the bottom. Well, that would have to change in a real organization.

businessman-little_prince

The Little Prince’s businessman (above) wouldn’t like this next idea either (or would he)?

How are you going to spend your money?

A sensible financial management system puts a trained executive between a production group and its income. The group has to plan how it is going to spend its earnings and inform this executive, who needs to be convinced that the proposed spending will help the group to produce and expand. Only then will that executive release those funds. They work together at it; it’s not like that guy wants to harm anyone (his statistic is the size of the payroll). He just wants to make sure the group is handling its finances in an ethical manner.

Now, government supposedly does this. But they don’t use a strictly trained executive, they use the legislators. Well, that’s like asking the kids how much of Dad’s pay they want to spend on pizza and cookies. So, it doesn’t work. I don’t know if you could get it to work in government. The Founding Fathers had a good idea, but they were trying to solve a different problem than we have now. As it turns out, you don’t need a monarch to have a despotism, and a democracy won’t guarantee the continued freedom of its people, either.

The U.S. system is good, but it’s not the best we can do.

The biggest gap is in understanding the criminal element and what to do about them.

Police as ethics officers

Ethics is where the rubber hits the road when it comes to improving the management of any group or activity. Everyone should know about Ethics, but someone has to make sure it gets applied properly, that honest and productive people are protected and that the real criminals of the world get put out of business. And that’s really what most people who sign up for police work hope they can accomplish. The only reason it doesn’t happen is that not enough people – and particularly the police – know about Ethics. So this is an educational job, as is much of the work that needs to be done to improve conditions.

We have some Forces here and there – some in Colombia, some in South Africa – learning this data and having success with it. They are happy about the results they are getting. That trend just needs to grow.

And maybe some day even Saint-Exupéry‘s stodgy old “businessman” can breath a sigh of relief and see a way back towards happiness.

Accomplishing Things Together

14 July 2019

Mankind has evolved myriad ways to get things done in groups.

This subject impacts all of the social sciences including particularly government, business management, and community organization.

In these contexts it is often studied in amazement: How have we managed to accomplish so much against such great odds? And so those studies have for the most part resulted in theories of how and why we managed to survive as a cooperative species, or in careful listings of what worked for Boeing, or General Electric, or China.

Those studies seldom evolved any system of understanding or set of rules that was workable enough to be compelling or gain wide support. Except for Hubbard’s studies.

Extent of human experience

When Hubbard consulted the extent of human experience, he found a track so deep and vast that for most those discoveries were simply unbelievable. But in this vastness he was able to locate certain basics about how people operate and how they learn to coexist.

And so he was able to identify patterns and “laws” that can be adapted to and remain workable in almost any imaginable situation.

The basic production group

The most workable pattern for group production is one mirrored all around us and throughout history. We see this pattern in the family (particularly when both parents are present), in the village and tribe, in the production team of modern business, and in performing groups such as the one illustrated below.

sekar jaya berkeley 1980

Gamelan Sekar Jaya early rehearsal in Berkeley 1980

I have mentioned this pattern in other articles. It features an “in-charge” or supervisor, often assisted by a deputy. Ideally, these two only have to work directly with a handful of other people. In the photo above, we see that the teacher (back to us) is showing one of the gendèr players a particular melody. The other players can be individually instructed, but will tend to rely on one of the better players in their group as a sub-teacher. Similarly, a more experienced drummer teaches a newer drummer, and a more experienced dancer will teach the newer dancers, though all under the watchful eye of the overall teacher. And so they eventually learn how to play an entire piece together, then another and another. And so they can at some point go out and perform a concert with a paying audience (as we did many times).

Extension to larger groups

Hubbard found that the best way to build larger groups was by using this same basic pattern. This is actually a truly ancient law. As such, it should come naturally to us; and yet we violate it all the time.

When we try to stretch this basic pattern into a very large group, like a major company or a nation, we run into one of its limitations: distance between associated group members. This has always been a challenge for people, and I suppose always will. Though I could mention all sorts of handlings that have been dreamed up – for both real and imaginary groups – the common factor in all of them seems to be to establish a strong and reliable line of communication between the central location and its remote offices.

Traditionally this was accomplished by assigning one or more people from the remote area to function as delegates, ambassadors, or traveling executives. They would then meet periodically as a council, committee, coordinating body (or some similar concept) at the central location. This was one reason (as far as I’m concerned) why representative governments developed in the years before we had more advanced communication technologies. These councils continue today as a kind of tradition; for now it’s probably just as well that they do.

Organizations like businesses have a tendency to send central people out to the remote location to “fix” situations and for other reasons. This is more typical of a top-down approach to organizing people, but that doesn’t make it unworkable. It’s just that the basic friendliness that exists when people work together in the same room or house or office or factory can break down or be neglected over longer distances. Then the corrective measure will come as a shock or be seen as an attack, rather than as a management necessity (which it usually is). So it is very important for any central office to have one person (or a small group) assigned to each remote office – no more than five or ten remote offices per person – who will then maintain a strong and friendly relationship between him or herself and each remote office.

Common mistakes

It is very important for the members of any actual group to feel that they are working together for a common purpose. For some businesses, that purpose might be to make money. And while that is needful, it is seldom sufficient motivation for most people. Most people want to feel that they are doing something that contributes to the greater community, and pushes up the chances of survival for the entire community, as well as the specific business or organization they work in. I have seen too much neglect and falseness in this respect.

Why would people err in this direction?

Lost or insufficient technology. This is the age in which certain of our technologies have raced ahead, while others have lagged behind, or been neglected or lost.

Thus we can connect two people using a complex radio relay system, but cannot guarantee them that their personal details will remain private or that the information they receive on that network will be accurate.

We can develop a myriad of new drugs for treating various conditions, but seem unable to cure people of those conditions.

We can revive numerous downtown areas, but we can’t seem to make those areas affordable for the people who work there.

In fact, there are many good technologies that would help us handle these problems that are available but not widely known about. That leads us to our other common mistake.

Letting criminals onto our communication lines. This one is always destructive, and sometimes completely fatal. It is a point abundantly supported by Hubbard’s research. And it circles back around to the first mistake: Lack of an effective technology for spotting criminals that is widely known and in use.

Though we have had ways of doing this for centuries, our results were less than perfect. It is Hubbard’s work that has pushed this subject up to a new level. And it was a criminal reaction to this advance that has been suppressing it from wider use. Where communities go ahead and learn it and use it, crime goes down and happiness goes up.

And where communities and businesses and governments gain a better control over the criminal element, beneficial technologies go into wider use, while harmful technologies decline.

Can governments be made to work?

Government is one of our biggest challenges because we give our governments the toughest jobs.

I looked over our own Constitution today (the original document for the most part) to see if I could draw a straight line from it to a more workable system. My results were inconclusive.

In a nation Law takes the place of what is usually called Policy in business. Yet how could either a business or a nation get along well if its rules of operation were constantly changing?

The only business policies we normally hear about as consumers are written by lawyers. The more basic policies get set by Boards of Directors, and you seldom hear about those. My church relies on a large volume of policy developed by our Founder over many years which is now, for the most part, unchangeable. That gives our organization stability and predictability.

Nations have their Constitutions as basic policy. Yet in all cases I know of, these have been eroded. In a lot of ways, they weren’t really comprehensive enough. And with changeable laws having to stand in for gaps in policy, nations have been rendered less stable than most of us would like.

Traditional representative government has become less workable for a number of reasons. Chief among them, as I see it, was the lack of workable data on how to detect and handle criminals. And so the justice systems of many countries have become unworkable, if not corrupt. And criminal influence in the other branches of government was allowed to occur. This must be repaired. This whole issue is barely mentioned in our own Constitution.

Furthermore, there is no mention in our Constitution of the relationship between the U.S. President and his Cabinet with the State Governors and their cabinets. This led to vital communication lines never being formally established, and extensive Federal offices existing in all major cities and state capitals, though those should all be the domains of the various states.

Further, the need for extensive duplication of laws due to the absence of enough detail in the founding documents has led to huge wastes of effort as states try to regulate things better left to the federal level, and vice versa. This has recently become a real issue in the field of drug abuse, where some states have legalized marijuana, while others have kept it illegal. At the federal level it is still an illegal substance, so a huge “crime” network still exists to produce the drug in “free” states and then transport it into areas where it remains illegal. If the Feds do not have sufficient resources to make such operations unprofitable, then the whole country basically gets more drugs at lower prices courtesy of the states that have legalized them.

Reversely, the Feds have tried to “assist” states in their educational efforts. But this is much more properly a state issue, since “illegal trafficking” of students across state borders is certainly a very minor problem.

While arguments can be made that the U.S. would do better if it operated more like a business (top-down) it is in fact not legally set up to do so, and should probably rely much more on friendly communication lines between federal and state levels than it currently does.

Further, while it would be a huge change of operating basis at this point, it would be much more appropriate for the U.S. government to treat the states as franchises, and let the states, counties, cities and towns worry about any and all ordinary contact with individual citizens – particularly in the case of taxation – and devise a way to get regular tax payments (tithes, royalties) directly from the state treasuries rather than operating the enormous and invasive system of taxation and welfare that requires direct contact with every individual in the entire country. This is a stupendously inefficient, as well as dangerous, system. It should be ended as soon as possible.

Maintaining a true group

Maintaining a true group means maintaining friendly relations between every adjacent level of that group.

Individuals should have no cause to directly deal with the Federal government except if they violate federal laws. Even the issuance of passports could probably be done by states, as are drivers licenses and ID cards. And if the basic rules of organization were followed, all those activities would probably be more pleasant experiences.

People have a lot to learn about themselves and about working in groups. And they should learn these things. It would help us all enormously.

friendship-in-north_carolina-by-Ryan_Prescott

 

 

 

The Lands – One of my writing projects

2 June 2019

I introduced this project here.

This is a bit of an update.

The project was to serve as a platform for me to write about better solutions that I was aware of. It takes a hint from Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, as the writer speaks to us from the future, speaking about our present as if it were the past.

An imaginary disaster known as The Event destroys the planet’s communication and computer infrastructure, while leaving everything else intact. I got the idea from studying about the effects ionizing radiation can have on computer memory chips.

The planet recovers with the help of Tech, Policy and The Way To Happiness. I also mention things I have learned about a design system known as Permaculture, and about land use planning. I use mostly my own photographs to illustrate the articles, using the invented idea that a device exists that can help a person turn his memories into photo-realistic images.

After the Scientology TV channel went live, I began to realize that my church was pushing for a higher public awareness that answers existed to many of our most pressing social problems. I thought I could do something similar with The Lands by turning it into a novel or a screenplay. And so I set about trying to write one. So far I have writtten 19 pages of a first draft. Mostly dialog, I don’t care that much about exact settings or actions at this point. I thought I’d share here an excerpt that transcribes part of an imaginary speech given by the hero Emil to a crowd of corporate executives summoned to Washington D.C. by the Defense Department to get briefed and come up with a plan of action:

Emil: (looking around) All right, then. I’ll make a few opening remarks.

The most ancient origins of business parallel the most ancient origins of government. Almost universally, monarchs were considered chosen by God, if not gods themselves. And in the long past, monarchs, or persons like them, were the only ones granting charters to large businesses. Such businesses could grow large enough to threaten the power of the government, so the old monarchies only wanted political friends to operate such enterprises. In such a wise, the divine favor enjoyed by monarchs extended to the large enterprises they permitted to exist.

Many large corporations – and even some smaller ones – have continued to operate as if they were God’s surrogates here on earth. I hope none of you find this overly-offensive. The picture painted by history seems plain enough. So many businesses and governments down through the ages acted as if they were above any earthly laws, that their word was inviolate, and that they knew best how to run an enterprise or a nation or a planet, and should be allowed to do so.

Large businesses have become perceived by the public as modern extensions of ancient monarchies, aristocracies, and oligarchies. And from what I know about such matters, that is not an unfair assessment of the situation. Attempts to repair this situation using PR methods have only worked to the degree that the PR was sincere.

I would like to point out that a business, even a very large business, does not have to be operated in this fashion. It’s just that most still are.

Emil is trying to get some of the largest corporations and defense contractors to agree to essentially “trade swords for plowshares” and actively assist in the recovery efforts across the planet. It is only because they actually have lost the organizational advantages they enjoyed due to their extensive use of computer systems and computerized communication networks that they are willing to consider turning themselves, essentially, into a giant charity activity.

It has been a very interesting project for me, and I hope some of my friends will find it intriguing enough to share it with their friends.

A New Leaf

20 February 2018
fruit tree shoot

Springtime in Seattle, 2012.

In English we have an expression “turn over a new leaf” which means to make a new start. It literally refers to a page in a book, but of course this meaning of leaf is closely related to the one illustrated above.

As has already been mentioned in the previous post, my desire to build a new relationship with my church led me to the realization that my public-facing communications could use a change of context.

The Situation

Early this lifetime I came to a conclusion that I hope most can agree on: There is a situation on this planet. Situation is here defined as a major departure from the ideal scene.

In my younger years (the early 1960s) I was under the impression that we as a nation (the U.S.A.), if not the entire planet, were working towards an ideal scene. Here it is as expressed in one of our founding documents:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Then near the end of 1963 a duly elected – and rather popular – President was shot to death in public during a parade while he was visiting a city in Texas. A new administration took over from that man, which resulted in our country becoming very deeply involved in Vietnam, a war Kennedy hoped could be kept under control using only Special Forces troops. As more and more of our men died there, our involvement in the war in Vietnam became more and more unpopular, and was finally ended. The “Communists” then won the war, because they were more sensible rulers than those left in power by earlier colonizers and other outside interests.

Our government had immensely failed in effecting our “safety and happiness.” That failure was so obvious, it’s almost as if it was planned; and it may well have been.

To this day, there are huge holes in our understanding of what was really going on during the first half of the 20th century. And those holes only increased in size when we tried to look at and understand more recent events.

Doctors?

 

In the early 1980s I learned that the psychiatry or “Mental Health” movement was being pushed forward by men who shared certain personality traits that most of us would recognize as insane or psychotic. Those persons had their friends installed in various media and political organizations. If we want clean and honest public communication lines, we must remove those persons from control of those lines.

In the early years, those lines consisted mostly of English-language newspapers. Later those lines became dominated by radio and television. And now, since the the 1990s or so, we also have the internet which now feeds into a vast network of mobile “smart” phones.

These communication networks are not evil in themselves, but the persistent attempts by persons of criminal intent to dominate those lines has drastically reduced their usability (and believability) to the point that many people will not use those lines for anything other than gathering the most mundane forms of information, or commercial uses like shopping and banking.

The Search for Reliable Information

I didn’t get on the internet in any big way until 2009. Wikipedia was already very well-developed by that time and had become the de facto source of information about almost anything. However, on topics where facts or intentions are hotly contested, the “establishment” position tends to win out on Wikipedia, on TED, on all the major news sites, or any site attempting to present reliable information. This goes for almost any topic other than the most mundane (weather forecasts?) or boring (electronics and coding?).

What I did at that time was to start my own blog. There I would present and compare data from multiple sources in the hopes of giving readers a more insightful view of things than what was being fed to them by the mainstream sources.

This activity had two main problems: 1) nobody read it, and 2) too many data sources were questionable or antagonistic to real spiritual betterment. I was trying to demonstrate to my readers that there existed certain basic phenomena of life that were widely agreed on and widely researched. Yet I kept falling over false data that others were going into agreement with.

My plan is to revise this site to make it more resource-oriented and less discussion-oriented. Discussion has its place, but that’s not what is happening on the web as it is currently organized.

Technical Limitations

The internet was created to provide its initial users (mostly data scientists in academia and the military-industrial complex) with faster data sharing capabilities, which data might include – in the case of the military – strategic and actionable data of a confidential nature.

Some of the earliest websites looked basically like search windows and were used to find scientific papers and other technical information, somewhat on the order of a giant library.

Additionally, any services that earlier used telex lines were obvious candidates for switching over to the internet. This included news feeds, stock tickers, and private messaging of course.

But it was not long before commerce was being conducted over the internet, and this use quickly became the dominant use. About 1/2 of all internet websites today are .com sites. And this means that what most website designers are trying to do is maximize traffic. Today, social networking is widely understood as a way to give commercial sites access to a lot of potential customers. The sharing of useful information on the internet, its original educational use, has been buried under all the subsequent traffic; a development that should have been quite predictable.

The blog is a sort of personal news feed service. It presents your posts in reverse chrono order, most recent on top, like the news. “Free” blogs are used – often blatantly – for advertising, and so are “free” e-mail and social media accounts.

About two-thirds (68%) of internet users disapprove of search engines and websites tracking their online behavior for the purpose of ad targeting.
– Pew Research, 13 March 2012.

While internet shopping is very popular compared to using the internet to seek useful data or advice (except as it concerns which product to buy), many people use the internet for that purpose or assume that it can be used that way. This group especially includes young people in school. I know it also includes all sorts of engineers and other “geek” types.

People want good data, but the internet concentrates on giving them news, blogs, ads and messages commonly associated with entertainment or commerce, not associated with making smart decisions.

Thus if I want to use my blog to help people make smarter decisions in their lives, I must realize that this is not what my blog was designed to do, and I am going to need to compensate for that.

The changes I will be making in the site reflect that realization.

Springtime “snow” falls

13 April 2013
snow on ground

“Snow” melting on the ground.

I was on my way home after finding a great used FM tuner at Palouse Treasures and forgetting to buy more solder at Radio Shack. It was about 1pm. And as I rode my bike that last half mile back home, the skies opened up! But what fell down from those dark clouds on this cool Spring day? Rain, right? And I came home all wet and had to change my clothes…Nope. As pictured above, it was something more like snow. Riding through it, it felt sort of like little bits of styrofoam. It was little icy pellets, but they weren’t hard. They bounced on the ground like popcorn.

“I want to get a picture of this!” I thought, and after parking my bike on the tarp I have for it just inside the door, I went and got my camera and stepped back outside. The “stuff” had been falling in sheets! But now it was mostly gone. I walked up the hill a bit and found some still visible on the grass beside the driveway. And then I noticed more lodged in the junipers that serve as our landscaping here. And so I got a few more photos of the stuff before it all turned back into liquid water.

spring snow

Our “snow” caught in the juniper just before melting.

Cope and Organize

Most of us spend too much time coping and never organize for increased efficiency or expansion. Others do nothing but “organize” and get no real work done. You have to cope with the real scene and also make some time to organize towards the ideal scene. The game is to achieve the ideal scene. We seldom ever get there. That’s what makes it a game, of course. But if you don’t even try, it’s for sure you’ll never get there. And one way of saying “working towards a more ideal scene” is “ORGANIZE.”

We do far too little of it at work. Production Troubleshooting is a study in the perfection of COPE.

At home I get some chance to indulge myself. And though I still feel miles away from any scene one could consider “ideal,” at least now I can see some movement in that direction. Like the nice new (used) FM tuner I got today for $13 (I bought it because it had a power connector on it that I needed for another project; that it works it just gravy!).

Short list of projects

For the sake of trivia, I will list some of the organize efforts going on at home:

  • Make several real tables using IKEA table legs. These are my favorite table legs because they work and they are also easily removable. I finally got around to ordering a dozen (they cost $3 each plus shipping) so now have a second real table (in the bedroom, where I am now) and legs for two more 2-foot by 4-foot wood tops which have yet to materialize.
  • Put heavier projects (power supplies with transformers) in boxes on the floor, while most projects are closer to table height, to make the front panels accessible. I found some cool aluminum enclosures on eBay and got two. Perfect for this purpose. Recently some parts needed to complete them came in, so they are becoming useable.
  • More furnishings (for my living room). My plan is to make the living room into a study area with three sections. One for the arts, one for science and electronics, and one for Scientology. The area needs tables (above), shelves, and chairs. But I didn’t want heavy furniture, and one night I thought: “I wonder if they make inflatable furniture?” And they do! So I am going to try some.
  • Electronics projects sort-out. These were in some disarray, as I was coping for so long with either too little time or too little finances. Now they can begin to move forward in a more orderly manner. My box of manual controllers (called “faders” in the business) is now ready, and the old circular display has been upgraded so it’s easier to use. It will eventually be joined by other displays that operate in different modes, and one will be very video-like.
  • Computers sort-out. I no longer feel the need to access the internet on a different computer from the one I store all my files on. So that older computer is being re-purposed into an experimental computer for the “learning room.” My under-used little netbox will now serve as my electronics bench computer, and my two portables will eventually be deployed at the other learning stations. My “main” computer was recently upgraded from 1GB of RAM (Random Access Memory) to nearly 4GB and the difference is really noticeable. Besides the fact that my phone line is quite noisy, the DSL connection to the internet works well, so for the time being, that’s all good.

Yes, these are the results of letting an electronics hobbyist with an income loose in a 2-room apartment!