Overview: Psychological Infant Insecurity of Nelson Mandela: » » Secret Affairs of Nelson Mandela Surface || Football Fever: Terror & Famine Go Unreported: : » » ‘July 12 all the whites will be killed’ threat || The Dark Side of Optimism: Why Looking on the Bright Side keeps us from Thinking Critically
Psychological Infant Insecurity of Nelson Mandela
by Andrea Muhrrteyn
Why We Are White Refugees
The Principle of Monarchy
The Mandela myth was mainly the creation of the South African Communist Party. As the most important organizer of ANC politics within the country and internationally for thirty years, especially through the media, the SACP in the late 1950s and early 1960s set about the creation of a very specific cult of personality.
The 'M Plan' of 1953, in which 'M' stood for Mandela, did more to surround the leader's name with a mystique than reorganize the ANC on a cell-system, as it was supposed to do. Ten years later, alter the arrest of members of the High Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe at Lilliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, the emphasis was not principally on a collective call: 'Free the Rivonia nine.' The fate of an entire generation of political victims was absorbed into the fate of a single individual: 'Free Mandela.' Such personification of thousands of individual acts of imprisonment by the state might have been good media politics, but it was the negation of democratic accountability. It represented the introduction of the monarchical principle as a staple into modern South African political life. More urgently, it was a trivializing of politics which took the issue away from matters of substance and concentrated attention on the persona of one man.
-- A Death in South Africa: The Killing of Sipho Phungulwa, by Paul Trewhela
Nelson Mandela, was and is, Psychologically an Insecure Infant, i.e. he was so desperate for the adulation of fans, that he happily lied to them about who he really was, and instead projected a fake and manipulated public relations image as being a 'moral leader'. Put differently his psyche has never developed and grown beyond the stage of psychological infancy. He is physically a grown man, and psychologically -- in terms of his inner psychological security sense of self worth --- he is a fragile, insecure, frightened little boy. Philosophers would call it to 'know thyself'. He does not know himself, nor did he want to, or know how to, cause to know himself would be to confront the lie he is projecting.
Rule No. 1, for a sincere 'moral leader'; is to live a life of 100% transparency. NO SECRETS. Because like the Pentagon likes to hide its malicious intentions to conquer and multiply behind 'Top Secret'; so too does a Psychological Infant Ego, like to hide its malicious intentions and lies about what it really thinks and wants, behind vague words such as 'private', or 'personal'. Put differently, they would prefer to bullshit you with fake polite niceties, which they hope you believe, so you can buy their religious or political or financial product, and like all those ignorant poor fools who believe the get rich quick schemes of a Nigerian 419 salesman; you want to believe the propaganda, the public relations; you want to believe this 'moral leader' is who he is pretending to be; and so you give him the benefit of the doubt and you don't ask him the tough questions!??? Sound familiar? Are you easily bullshitted? That last hot guy with the fancy car, or the chick with the awesome legs? You forgot the adage: don't judge a book by its cover! You did not dig deeper, you did not ask the tough questions, because you were too psychologically insecure and wanted to believe the propaganda in your own head! So then you didn't ask the questions, and later you found out all their dirty secrets and then you felt betrayed??? So, how did you help that person to betray you??? What did you personally do -- psychologically??, in your own head -- to shoot yourself in the foot, and help the other person to betray you?
There are many fake moral leaders -- from Angus Bucham to Barack Obama, etc -- its very, very easy to spot them, once you know what to look for. You really have to be very, and I mean very, very psychologically insecure about the truth, when your birth certificate is a national security secret! Get my drift? The United States, the largest goverment on the planet is led by a man, who is, psychologically speaking, an infant, a little insecure, frightened, desperately wanting to be liked little boy!
Got yourself a new moral leader to follow? Ask yourself: How transparent are their lives? If they have secrets, they are not a 'moral leader'. Well you can think of them as your moral leader if you want; if you ain't got no problem with being lied to, and deceived. Go ahead, its your choice. But if you are looking for someone who ain't going to bullshit you, its going to require you to demonstrate you arn't a psychological infant. So, write to them to enquire their honest opinion on a controversial subject. See if they give you their honest opinion. If you make sure they received your correspondence and they give you the run around, by ignoring you or refusing to answer your straight questions! BIG BIG RED FLAG! They are too psychologically insecure to provide you with an honest answer! NOT A MORAL LEADER, BUT A PRETEND MORAL LEADER! But if you like being bullshitted, then that is entirely your right.
And Nothing But the Truth: Television Interview about Brad Blanton's Campaign for Congress & Honesty in Politics
Beware of following any pretend moral or political or spiritual leader, who is not enough of a leader to practice 100% transparency. A 100% transparent leader is someone like Brad Blanton, who has no secrets. It does not matter what question you ask him, he will give you as straight an answer as he can. Any leader who practices less than 100% transparency; i.e. who has secrets to be hidden, does so because he wants to pretend to be moral, or is putting forward a fake fraudulent 'PR' image (ask the father of Public Relations what 'public relations' is) and these secrets hidden from you will expose them as a liar, or manipulator or hypocrit.
They are Psychologically Insecure Infants, desperate for the adulation of fans, and for power, and their moral conscience, i.e. what they are pretending is thier 'leadership strength' is not strong enough to hold themselves accountable to be 100% transparent about who they are. They are passive aggressive manipulative fraudster snake oil salesmen, and they will stab you in the back, i.e. betray you.
Not only is Nelson Mandela a Psychological Insecure Infant, addicted to sycophancy, his Psychological Infancy is so infantile, that he needs to bullshit himself about how 'superior' he is, and uses that alleged 'superiority', to hide his insecurity and lies. He hides his insecurity behind a false air of 'moral supremacy'. If that does not make you wake up to the level of his deceipt and manipulative deception, you are seriously addicted to being lied to. Your addiction to being lied to and following liars, will result in you being betrayed by them!
Nelson Mandela is the ultimate psychological infant supremacist. When confronted by Mac Maharaj about why he is being so secretive and manipulative, he considers himself so superior, to refuse to discuss his lack of morality with a 40 year old man, calling him a 'boy'. (So, if he considers his fellow ANC colleagues and 'struggle brothers' 'boys'; what do you think he honestly considers his millions of ignorant imbecile adoring fans? Ignorant Imbeciles? You can bet on it, but he won't tell them that, cause he prefers their sycophancy!) This is at the exact same time that he is accusing white people of being 'white supremacists'. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. He is a black supremacist, a male supremacist and psychologically still an infant, addicted to sycophancy; pretending to be a moral leader. Eish.... thank god I did not land myself into that can of worms, lies and deception!
And -- how many South Africans consider the Psychological Infancy Insecurity of Nelson Mandela, to be 'moral leadership'? I used to believe the Public Relations crap, the lies, the propaganda! Thank God I woke up!
No wonder it is said Nelson Mandela is a sad unhappy man. He spent his life living a lie, his entire life, he lied and lied and lied about who he was. He lied so much about who he was, he started believe his own lies, and lacked the moral authority to hold himself accountable, to confront himself. To tell the truth: this is who I am and what I honestly think. Why? Millions of his ignorant imbecile fans, would catch a very very harsh wake up, if they knew the truth about what he thinks of them!
Nelson Mandela's conscience was so weak, it preferred sticking its head in the sand, and feeding itself on the LSD of the fanclubs sycophancy. Believing the moral crap about his 'moral leadership'. Now he has millions of ignorant fans, who never had a clue their hero was such a psycholgoical insecure infantile little boy, addicted to sycophantic praise, that he never told them the truth about who he really was, because -- I suspect -- he hasn't a clue who he really is. He knows they don't care for him, the real person he is, they only care for the public relations propaganda of the media, the person he was pretending to be, and it was all a lie, a fraud.
And whom do we have to thank for this pathetic FIFA Mafia Parasite circus? Who was such a psychological and financial infant, his 'moral leadership' thought it more important for South Africa to host a FIFA world Soccer Tournament, than hold an honest conversation between South Africans? Who thinks it is more important to impress the world with Rainbow Hypocrisy, than it is to hold an honest Conversation between South Africans about who we really really are, and what we honestly feel and think? None other than Nelson Mandela! Viva FIFA Parasite Circus! Because fake public relations serves his infant psychological insecurities, whereas an honest conversation, would expose his lies and deception...
When you follow Politicians, Priests, Judges, Generals, who do not practice 100% transparency; you should not be surprised when they stab you in the back and BETRAY YOU!! That is the Caveat Emptor, the Fine Print, of following any 'leader' who does not practice 100% transparency. Buyer Beware; You will be Betrayed!
Secret affairs of [Nelson Mandela] surface
Extracted from Young Mandela by David James Smith
June 13 2010 at 09:55AM, IOL
Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, was first published in 1994, the year he became president of South Africa, but it owes its origins to events on Robben Island, his prison 20 years earlier. Some of his fellow ANC inmates co-operated with him in secretly writing a memoir that was smuggled out of the jail.
Mandela would write during the night and pass the finished pages to another prisoner, Mac Maharaj.
The book was never published, although Mandela used an incomplete version as the basis for his autobiography.
When I asked Maharaj two years ago whether readers would have learnt much about the real Mandela from it, he said, no, that was part of the problem: Mandela's reluctance to give of himself.
Maharaj used to joke with Mandela about that on Robben Island: "This thing is shaping up to be a f****** political instrument."
Mandela: "What do you want?"
Maharaj: "This is not a biography - the man, the person has got to come out."
Mandela: "What do you mean?"
Maharaj: "Well, your first wife, what kind of person was she, what did you do after your first marriage broke up, before it broke up?"
Mandela: "I don't discuss that with young boys like you." (Maharaj was about 40, Mandela 60.)
Maharaj persuaded Walter Sisulu, Mandela's friend and mentor, also a prisoner, to speak to him.
A few nights later Mandela wrote a note to Maharaj that said: "In that section where I write about the break-up of my marriage, insert the following sentence: 'And then I led a thoroughly immoral life.' "
Maharaj went back to him: "I want to know who you led this immoral life with."
"No," said Mandela, "I won't talk about that."
The reader will search high and low in Long Walk to Freedom for any reference to Mandela's immorality. History had been revised.
» » » » [Excerpt: IOL (I don't share the psychological infant sycophancy of Mr. Smith's to pretending that Nelson Mandela's massive Fraud is simply 'being human', while other politicians massive fraud is 'white supremacy').]
Football fever: Terror, famine go unreported
David Smith, Mail and Guardian
Jun 13 2010 06:45
Terror returned to Zimbabwe's white-owned farms last week when supporters of president Robert Mugabe launched a fresh land grab. That was the claim of the Commercial Farmers Union, representing the remaining 300 white farmers still on their properties. It said a new surge of violence erupted on 16 farms with the looting of crops and equipment.
In eastern Zimbabwe, a black farm foreman was beaten unconscious and a farmer's wife was barricaded into her homestead and given four hours to leave, the union alleged. It said police had not responded to calls for help.
The attacks received scant attention in the international media, where all eyes were turned on Zimbabwe's neighbour to the south as it counted down to Africa's first Soccer World Cup. Such is the intense fascination with the competition in South Africa that other African news could find it hard to compete. The Not-the-World-Cup agenda includes the Democratic Republic of Congo's 50th anniversary of independence from Belgium at the end of June, which will also signal the withdrawal of 2 000 UN peacekeepers from the vast country. President Joseph Kabila's goverment has expressed a desire for the rest of the world's biggest peacekeeping operation to follow sooner rather than later. But UN officials have warned that a hasty pull-out could undermine humanitarian efforts and allow a resurgence of rebel violence against civilians.
High stakes in Guinea
The presidential election in Guinea on June 27 is unlikely to get much airtime against two World Cup second round matches scheduled for the same day. But the stakes could hardly be higher 18 months after a military coup that was followed by the massacre of more than 150 political demonstrators.
The coup leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, was shot six months ago, leaving General Sekouba Konate to assume control. Konate insists he will not run as a candidate in the election, raising hopes of democratic new start.
Far from the joy and celebration of the World Cup, a food crisis is gripping Niger after drought caused crops to fail and food prices to increase by up to 30% in some areas. Nigeria is attempting to keep a lid on sectarian violence. Somalia's government, rocked last week by resignations, is clinging on against Islamist militias. Tensions are also rising in Rwanda ahead of elections in August. Human rights groups say president Paul Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has become increasingly intolerant of dissent and criticism in the run-up to the vote.
Indeed, Rwanda's genocide remains one of the most notorious examples of the storms that can be unleashed when the world is looking away. An estimated 800 000 Rwandans were killed in 100 days from April 1994 -- the same month that Nelson Mandela won South Africa's first multiracial election. - guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2010
» » » » [Mail & Guardian]
‘July 12 all the whites will be killed’ threat
On July 12 we will kill all the whites...' Afrikaners, black workers warned…
Saturday, 12 June 2010
11 June 2010 - “Alex” writes: “My husband happened to be in one of the firearms shops at the East Rand, whose owner is a friend. While they were talking a black man walked into the shop and started blowing the vuvuzela really loudly. The shop owner told him to take the vuvuzela elsewhere or he'd stick it in a very uncomfortable place.
"The black man then turned on my husband and the shop owner in a tirade, saying that 'you'd better enjoy your shop for a few days more, because that shop is going to belong to me after 12 July 2010 because I am going to come and take it.'
"On July 12 we black people will be ready to mow down all you whites,' he reportedly said.
This man ‘s identity is known to the gunshop-owner: he regularly purchases firearm for Winnie Mandela's security staff and had just ordered 400 bulletproof vests through them.
“The man said that they were going to kill all 'your people's' children, women, old people and men, and that time they won't be fighting with knobkieries and pangas, they now are well-armed. We are going to come and fetch nice stuff from you whites,' he said.
Alex: “The shocked shop-owner still tried to laugh it off but he must have seen the angry look on my husband's face. The black man threatened my husband with the words ‘I will see you on 12 July or even before depending on how Bafana-Bafana (the South Bfrican football team, the name translates to ‘boys-boys’) is faring.' The man also added that when ‘they were finished killing the whites they would turn on the Chinese”. He also mentioned a black tribal whose people would also be attacked and murdered but my husband couldn't recall the tribe’s name afterwards because he'd become so angered.'
Alex: “The black man told my husband that he would 'shoot at people's legs'. My husband responded that he never did - he would shoot right between the eyes - and that he would not miss.’
“ After a sleepless night my husband went to visit his friend at the gunshop again. His friend confirmed that he’d asked a black woman who works there to find out more about this threat, and she confirmed that the black workers are constantly being told on the trains between home and work that ‘the workers will have to start helping to kill them on July 12 when they will start killing all the white people. And if the black workers didn't help they would be killed too. “
The shop owner said ‘the intelligence service was well-aware of the threats to start killing all the whites on July 12.”
(article by Adriana Stuijt firstname.lastname@example.org The sources of this article are reliable and known to me. They greatly fear victimisation and refuse to be identified.)
» » » » [Adriana Stuijt: ‘July 12 all the whites will be killed’ threat]
The Dark Side of Optimism
Why Looking on the Bright Side keeps us from Thinking Critically
Has positive thinking gone too far in corporate America? That may sound like a bizarre question: Optimism is widely seen as a virtue of American culture and key to success in business. Cultural norms and beliefs about good business practice increasingly stress looking at the sunny side and de-emphasizing the problematic.
But such overly positive thinking is difficult to reconcile with the need to make realistic, objective assessments. Finding the right balance between healthy optimism and delusion is harder than one might imagine, for both individuals and institutions.
And despite years—decades—of sobering examples, we don't seem to be any closer to that balance. The recent recklessness of residential and commercial real-estate lending was in plain view, and a vocal minority wrote about it. But the financial and business communities dismissed all the warnings, insisting that any damage—should it ever arrive—would be contained to the subprime sector. The folly was obvious: Even if decision-makers had deemed the grim forecasts to be of low probability, the potential outcomes were so dire that they demanded contingency plans. On other fronts, experts are issuing warnings about the dollar's continuing slide, which could worsen international financial stability, and about oil prices, and the hiring slowdown, and any number of potential crises looming in the near future.
We acknowledge these problems and their seriousness—and then put them out of mind. Instead of treating worrisome developments as new information and looking dispassionately at the risks, we tend to avoid working through downside scenarios because they are upsetting. It's simply easier to put on blinkers and believe everything will work out than to confront the complexities of modern life.
"Negativity," an awkward coinage, has widely come to be used pejoratively. Magical thinking, too, has become increasingly popular as a way to gain the illusion of control in an uncertain world. Rhonda Byrne's motivational best-seller The Secret, for example, basically says that you get what you wish for. If you don't have the things you want, it means you don't have enough faith. In this construct, neither insufficient effort nor bad luck plays a role.
In the business world, we've moved from hardheaded to feel-good management. As Financial Times columnist Lucy Kellaway observed recently: "For people in any position of authority the ability to say no is the most important skill there is. . . . No, you can't have a pay rise. No, you can't be promoted. No, you can't travel club class. . . . An illogical love of Yes is the basis for all modern management thought. The ideal modern manager is meant to be enabling, empowering, encouraging and nurturing, which means that his default position must be Yes. By contrast, No is considered demotivating, uncreative and a thoroughly bad thing."
To illustrate, Tom Peters' Leadership offers an impossible, irreconcilable list of exhortations: Be a great salesman, great storyteller, great performer, networking fiend, talent fanatic, relationship maven, visionary, profit-obsessive, and (of course) an optimist. Push your organization; know when to wait; love mess, politics, and new technology; lead by winning people over; foster open communication; show respect; embrace the whole individual. Granted, Peters does give a couple of breaks—leaders get to be angry and make mistakes. But his list is all sizzle, no steak. Not only are his executives reluctant to say no—they don't develop any of the guts of what managing is really about: making decisions under uncertainty, creating routines, developing (not merely exhorting) direct reports, responding to crises, building in enough slack to deal with low-probability but high-consequence opportunities and risks.
The religion of management has instead shifted from hard skills to soft, interpersonal ones. While the human touch is important, making it the gold standard of good management practice is dangerous. It reinforces, rather than counters, the role of emotion in our decision processes.
The end result is a bias against critical thinking. It's hard enough, in the delicate social web of most organizations, to question the merits of any given proposal offered in good faith. But now decision-makers stagger under the weight of larger social trends and management fads that favor belief and force of personality over dispassionate analysis. Detached, rigorous thinking simply doesn't fit any of our cultural models. In his 1949 classic The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell showed that the hero's journey is a story found in every culture—just as management literature about leadership, whether knowingly or not, casts corporate corporate chieftains as prototypical heroes. But what archetypes do we have for the anodyne analyst? In mythology, Hermes and Loki were clever but also troublemakers and tricksters.
Science fiction, too, has long depicted alien beings as detached, logic-driven Cassandras whose warnings are invariably brushed off by upbeat, forward-thinking Earthlings (whose impetuosity, more often than not, saves the day). But that's just it—it's science fiction.
The "Bright Side" of Bias
In the real world, it's troubling enough that most of us overrate ourselves and, by extension, our enterprises (see "Are You—Yes, You—Deluding Yourself?" on page 34). But our social orientation makes us more suggestible than we realize in other ways. Out of his own frustration with how easily a smooth salesman could manipulate him, social psychologist Robert Cialdini studied how "influence professionals" exploit our reflexes. His findings, along with those of other psychologists, explain the ways in which optimism can trump logic:
Liking. Cialdini pointed out that we are more apt to comply with those we like—that is, people who are similar to us and people whom we find attractive. We are therefore more likely to shun someone who pours cold water on our pet ideas. Thus, people who want social influence will reinforce— or, at least, not dispute—optimistic assessments. To smooth their dealings with others, people resort to white lies—large and small—with startling frequency: A study by social psychologist Robert Feldman found that 60 percent of his subjects told lies, at an average frequency of two to three lies per ten-minute period. No surprise that our co-workers and colleagues reinforce and amplify our rose-colored views more often than they dispute our assessments.
Consistency and commitment. Most of us feel the need to be consistent, not only because society highly values such reliability but because doing so makes it much easier to function in life. As Cialdini suggested, it's simpler to adhere to successive actions and decisions and hope that everything will somehow work out well than to return to initial principles each time you must make a decision. But in an organization, this attachment to commitment can lead to inflexibility, particularly when an initiative or investment that looked good in the planning stages falters in the field. In game theory and economics, the practice of taking unsound actions to justify measures taken earlier is called "irrational escalation."
Confirmation bias. People tend to look for information that proves, rather than disproves, their theories. In 1960, British researcher Peter Watson gave subjects the number sequence 2-4-6 and asked them to identify a rule. The participants could then ask the experimenter if other threenumber series fit the rule: For instance, those who believed the numbers had to be even asked about numerous even sequences, whereas people who thought numerals had to increase by two offered several such orders. Some 80 percent of participants overthought the simple problem and got the wrong answer: The numbers simply had to be in ascending order. Watson's study is called a "cold" form of confirmation bias; it merely demonstrates the propensity of humans to look for supporting rather than falsifying data points.
"Hot" confirmation bias refers to cases in which the belief is emotionally charged. Not surprisingly, researchers have found individuals with a hot confirmation bias to be even less amenable to information.
Conjunction fallacy. This is one of many cognitive biases that result from our propensity to rely on stories to organize reality. Studies of juries have found that they typically base their decisions on whichever story seems most plausible to them, rather than weighing the evidence. Likewise, people will form their own stories when presented with facts.
Consider this example: Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.
Rank the following statements from most probable to least probable:
- Linda is a teacher in an elementary school.
- Linda works in a bookstore and takes yoga classes.
- Linda is active in the feminist movement.
- Linda is a psychiatric social worker.
- Linda is a member of the League of Women Voters.
- Linda is a bank teller.
- Linda is an insurance salesperson.
- Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.
A majority of participants in many repetitions of this exercise rate No. 8 as more probable than No. 6, even though, obviously, it is more likely that Linda is a bank teller than both a bank teller and an active feminist. Adding more detail makes something seem more vivid and plausible, and we make the leap to seeing it as more likely.
How does this bias reinforce optimism? It means that we overestimate the likelihood of conjunctive probabilities—that is, the likelihood that A and B will occur together. For instance, estimating the success of a project or investment is a conjunctive probability. Certain elements must all go well for the project to succeed: Customers must place orders, production must meet demand, production then must reach certain efficiencies for the profit margins to be adequate, and so on.
The fact that we overestimate conjunctive probabilities means that we tend to overestimate the likelihood of project success.
We're always told to look on the bright side of things, to stay positive. After all, individuals and companies need a positive outlook to succeed, right? Isn't positive thinking essen-tial for progress? Not necessarily. No one is encouraging pessimism; rather, evidence from top-performing companies suggests that success lies in a realistic outlook. Organizations with a point of view based in realism have a keen eye for problems, and when they find them, they attack them with a doggedness that verges on the compulsive. Yet we fail to recognize this realism because it's at odds with the romanticized ideas we have about leadership. It's much more compelling for a CEO to see himself—and the public to see him—as a modern protagonist in a hero's journey than as an executive performing the mundane and often thankless task of making a large enterprise more effective.
In addition, corporations often hide their worries. During its rise to industry leadership, Goldman Sachs had a culture that could best be described as intolerant of error and obsessed with containing risks. Yet the firm's spokespeople and sales staff always presented a confident, professional demeanor. Similarly, the press wrote about the firm's aggressiveness, emphasis on recruiting top talent, and cohesiveness, not its sharp eye for trouble.
Jim Collins, in Good to Great, found that his top-performing companies confronted the brutal facts. To illustrate, he quotes Pitney Bowes CEO Fred Purdue: "When you turn over rocks and look at all the squiggly things underneath, you can either put the rock down, or you can say, 'My job is to turn over rocks and look at the squiggly things,' even if what you see can scare the hell out of you."
Collins cites retail food chain Kroger as another exemplar of tough-minded realism. As consumers became more affluent, their grocery-store preferences shifted away from utilitarian outposts toward more attractive stores with a range of offerings, in particular higher-quality perishables such as bread, meat, and vegetables. The industry was aware of these changes, yet Kroger was alone among the incumbents to upend its business system: "By 1970," Collins writes, "the Kroger executive team had come to an inescapable conclusion: The old-model grocery store (which accounted for nearly 100 percent of Kroger's business) was going to become extinct." Collins goes on to quote then-CEO Lyle Everingham: "'Sure, there was some skepticism at first. But once we looked at the facts, there was really no question about what we had to do. So we just did it.'"
Toyota, another reality-driven top performer, has patiently gone from making cars that American consumers ignored to being the world's second-largest automaker. One of the keys to Toyota's success is its drive to seek rather than avoid impediments. As a New York Times Magazine article noted, "It is human nature to cover up a problem rather than call attention to it. At a Toyota plant, the identification of a problem became imperative and exciting. Because then it could be addressed." Put simply, shortcomings are seen as potential opportunities. If Toyota can come up with a solution, it puts the company ahead of competitors.
Likewise, Andy Grove created a culture at Intel that was deeply insecure, and rightly so. Leadership in the computer-chip business is tenuous, since manufacturers are only as good as their newest design and product life cycles are short. Recall that the United States appeared doomed to lose its technology leadership to Japan in the 1980s, and Taiwan has been steadily improving the sophistication of its chips over the last decade. Grove's famed paranoia included an obsessive focus on competitors and evolving customer needs. As he described it: "Think of the change in your environment, technological or otherwise, as a blip on your radar screen. You can't tell what that blip represents at first but you keep watching radar scan after radar scan, looking to see if the object is approaching, what its speed is and what shape it takes as it comes closer. Even if it lingers on your periphery, you still keep an eye on it because its course and speed may change."
Grove uses a military analogy completely different than those of most business leaders, who see themselves as generals out to subjugate enemy territory. He puts himself in the shoes of a lowly radar operator, underscoring the importance of relentless attention and accurate reporting by the rank and file.
For companies that believe that all news must be good, senior management must take deliberate, concerted measures to signal that it is less interested in boosting morale than in the cold, hard truth. New messages must be consistent, firm, and frequent. Cultural change does not happen overnight and requires considerable attention and constant reinforcement. The leadership group needs to be certain it is prepared to go this route, since pretending to be interested in candor but persisting with old habits of denial will simply increase cynicism. Some measures to consider:
Never shoot the messenger. Some managers may seem to be hopeless worrywarts, but remember Grove's warning: Better to be aware of a potential problem than not. Over time, you can calibrate whether some managers or units are indeed canaries in the mineshaft and, conversely, whether managers who dismiss possible dangers do so for valid reasons—or do so out of inertia.
Show interest in the downside and the upside. Grill executives on the risks inherent in their forecasts. Display interest in bad or problematic news, and express interest in having more early-warning systems for adverse developments.
If your company has deeply ingrained prohibitions against bringing up bad news—particularly if it is considered to be a sign of professional weakness—have brief one-on-one reviews individually with key business managers to discuss their operations and build a spirit of greater openness. Later, in a larger group setting, use the information gathered, starting with challenges common to several units so as not to put any one executive on the spot.
Shake up habits and procedures. It's hard to get people to think and act in a new way if they continue to go through the same old rituals. It may be worthwhile to look at your management-information systems and decision processes to see if they provide adequate mechanisms to obtain and air unbiased information.
Another way to rattle hidebound thinking is to engage in scenario planning. Most companies have a well-understood official version of the future, which is codified in their business plans, and the organization may also have one or two other major scenarios in mind. However, businesses tend to ignore low-probability but potentially devastating events, just as they ignore fundamental challenges even when they look increasingly likely. (Consider how Detroit resisted the production of smaller, lighter cars and, now, how many corporations aren't taking the implications of global warming seriously.) Don't let your company be caught off-guard.
Establish a house skeptic. It can help to have a designated critic. Sometimes that role falls naturally to a staff department, such as corporate development. The trick, then, is to ensure that its questions and concerns are treated seriously (i.e., to make sure representatives have some power) and that it focuses on substantive issues, rather than process or minor details. If you lack a logical internal party to play this role, use an outside adviser, such as a retired executive, a consultant, or a business-savvy lawyer. Generally, it is best to involve the person in major strategic decisions and acquisitions first, and at as early a stage as possible.
Regardless of what steps you take, your goal is not to squash optimism but, rather, to build a sense of realism into your company's culture. And keep in mind that what works for an individual isn't always successful on the level of a larger enterprise. While the elixir of optimism may help us get through the day, it is toxic to corporations when taken in excess.
» » » » [Why Looking on the Bright Side Keeps us From Thinking Critically (PDF)] & [I Luv SA]