In praise of ordinary people

People are vulnerable


One of the world's most creative individuals, is sweating when giving a testimonial in Senate to people probably of inferior IQ when compared to him

Mark Zuckerberg testifying 2018

Listening to radio

I drive about once a week to Bay Area from my home.  The radio is my  companion for  five hours a day. I could say the radio is a mirror of who we are.

I like for example Capital Public Radio 90.9 KXJZ broadcasting from California State University in Sacramento. I hear an interview on streaming with Margaret Heffernan. She is a famous TED speaker,  I never heard before. All TED speakers are unknown and are made famous using a state of the art coaching in presentation skills.

The chicken experiment

In the talk Margaret told the story of Super chickens.
A biologist at Purdue University named William Muir studied chickens. He was interested in productivity -- I think it's something that concerns all of us -- but it's easy to measure in chickens because you just count the eggs.
Group 1: He selected an average flock, and he let it alone for six generations.

Group 2 A second group of the individually most productive chickens --  and he put them together in a superflock, and each generation, he selected only the most productive for breeding.

After six generations
What did he find? Well, the first group, the average group, was doing just fine. They were all plump and fully feathered and egg production had increased dramatically. What about the second group? Well, all but three were dead. They'd pecked the rest to death. The individually productive chickens had only achieved their success by suppressing the productivity of the rest.

The human analogy 

Says Margaret
All my life I've been told that the way we have to get ahead is to compete: get into the right school, get into the right job, get to the top, and I've really never found it very inspiring. I've started and run businesses because invention is a joy, and because working alongside brilliant, creative people is its own reward. And I've never really felt very motivated by pecking orders or by superchickens or by superstars. But for the past 50 years, we've run most organizations and some societies along the superchicken model. We've thought that success is achieved by picking the superstars, the brightest men, or occasionally women, in the room, and giving them all the resources and all the power. And the result has been just the same as in William Muir's experiment: aggression, dysfunction and waste. If the only way the most productive can be successful is by suppressing the productivity of the rest, then we badly need to find a better way to work and a richer way to live.

The importance of empathy

 So what is it that makes some groups obviously more successful and more productive than others? Well, that's the question a team at MIT took to research. They brought in hundreds of volunteers, they put them into groups, and they gave them very hard problems to solve. And what happened was exactly what you'd expect, that some groups were very much more successful than others, but what was really interesting was that the high-achieving groups were not those where they had one or two people with spectacularly high I.Q. Nor were the most successful groups the ones that had the highest aggregate I.Q.
Instead, they had three characteristics, the really successful teams. First of all, they showed high degrees of social sensitivity to each other. This is measured by something called the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test. It's broadly considered a test for empathy, and the groups that scored highly on this did better. Secondly, the successful groups gave roughly equal time to each other, so that no one voice dominated. 
And thirdly, the more successful groups had more women in them.  Now, what we know, which is some groups do better than others, but what's key to that is their social connectedness to each other.
Simply Zuckerberg alone, or Steve Jobs alone are NOT the success. They are bricks. The rest of us are the mortar, but these are transitory positions, because in any moment a brick can play the role of mortar and vice versa.

" and we won't solve our problems if we expect it to be solved by a few supermen or superwomen. Now we need everybody, because it is only when we accept that everybody has value that we will liberate the energy and imagination and momentum we need to create the best beyond measure."
 As Margaret Heffernan says
Companies don't have ideas. Only people do

Silicon Valley and the Kafka's Castle


As I drive with huge, surreal trucks speeding and hooting around me and everybody is in a morbid hurry. Where do they want to go? To Silicon Valley dominated by the Google, Facebook and the like? This place is not like before, is controlled by superstars  surrounded by bodyguards.

We are about to lose the culture of helpfulness, which is central to our success success.

Silicon Valley becomes like  the book The Castle ,  Franz Kafka's novel from 1926. One can see the castle from the village, but no one knows how to get there.

Post scriptum 

The TED transcript has each word chosen carefully. Each word is  rich in meaning and emotions at the same time.

Post a Comment

Popular Posts