8:30 - Speaker Ken Payne arrives and looks quizzically at the projection. Here’s Robert Leaver to explain. Need to ‘work the room’ so I’ll post and add more later.
8:55 - Well, we’re only about 5 minutes behind schedule so far, but there’s precious little evidence that we’ll get going any time soon. Around 25 people so far, more filing in.
9:10 - Just demo’d the Providence & Beyond social network we made with Joomla. Amanda "funkEpunkEmonkE" Suzzi did a great job. Now Fred Presley is introducing the speaker.
9:15 - Speaker “Sometimes my mind works so hard that it stops. I call it “therapeutic depression.”" Takes a break with 19th century translations of Stoic philosophy.
Reference: Martha Nussbaum
Greeks believed in healthy body, healthy mind, healthy life in the community. Can we be personally healthy in an unhealthy community? The level of thought that goes into social health needs to meet the level of thought that goes into medical training.
What’s Coming: Obersvations on “the predicament we’re in.” Then some notions about taking a next step.
Our system doesn’t work the way we want it to, so we don’t feel we’ve been as productive as we could have been. In organizations, great talent that goes unused and other who have “checked out.” So agencies suffer from a debilitating chronic, low-grade depression. Dept. of Admin building is the ultimate RI example. There’s no space for casual conversations. ((ED. “Make the hallways wider.)) Many for-profit companies understand the value of these interactions and facilitate them.
Obs. 1 - We live in structures and name the components. We use those names in the syntax of the structure, creating a grammar of creation. When the structure is non-functional, the grammar become non-functional. Approach: deconstruct the grammar in historical context. The grammar was created for another time, another society. We don’t need to be bound by that structure. Our conditions are different.
Pledged to self to explain the RI situation in historical context. Couldn’t be done from the inside, so he stepped out and wrote articles for Projo.
Every generation creates their own structures, physical and intellectual. Historically, RI legislature met on Benefit St. and in Newport. New State House built, but also the building now housing DOT. That was the first state government office building.
Question: How do we recreate government space in RI? All government space is oppressive and depressing.
Obs. 2 - Who believes the RI government is optimally functional? (Laughter.) DEM legislation - don’t think about the vertical regulations, but the horizontal connections. Vertical relationships are easier to talk about, so that’s our grammar. But value comes from horizontal connections. During cutbacks, that with the strongest statutory support will survive the best. Hence we are eliminating our best value.
RI ranks at the bottom of government effectiveness. And it’s always because of HOW we use the people in government. High-performing organizations are all about how you use your talent.
SO: We have non-functioning space, non-functioning structures and an antiquated grammar. How do we move forward.
Q: What is the role of legislation in this process?
KP: Laws create space in three ways: you must, you must not, you may. Last option allows for space that can be used creatively. Non-rules based thinking. 19th C thought of law as a way to release energy. Each corporation required separate charters, then general enabling law that release energy.
Q: Easy to see what’s not working, but we want to focus on what IS working. What do you see that’s working in RI or elsewhere?
KP: See great examples all the time. RI Keepspace, and now DEM is dedicating resources against that effort. So that’s RIH and DEM in horizontal connection.
Q: Laws could create space, but now laws seem to limit space. Your thoughts re: current fiscal crisis. Is there an opportunity for transformation?
KP: Our basic cultural metaphor has been mechanization, creating rules-based structures. Tayloristic thinking. In RI, the approach is always: When in doubt, create a new rule.
TG: Now with the draw down, there’s an opportunity to use the space more creatively.
KP: Quality of meeting space in state government is dismal. DOA conference room B is symbolic of the culture.
Q: Greeks concern w/growth of individual. Capitalism is precondition of democracy and wealth creation. How do we get back to that approach?
KP: Working on the paper on the importance of keeping economic top-of-mind in legislation.
Q: Perception - private can select talent, deselect non-talent. Government can’t do that very well. Or can it?
KP: Much more talent in government than is being used. Difference is that government is bad at respecting the talent people bring, and then improve on that. People with talent and energy get plugged into job descriptions, and pretty soon the light goes dim. Give them an opportunity to shine, and the light comes back on. System doesn’t promote churn or innovation.
Obs - Loyalty and longevity prevent innovation.
Obs - RI too broken to find many success models. We’ll have to look outside.
Obs - Premise of mechanics: get it right and then replicate. No need
for adaptation. New Deal created structure of interests. Now we’re
locked into an institutional structure that doesn’t let us compete or
adapt. Structure so rigid it won’t even listen anymore. Mechanics
requires that government “has the answers.” Private sector is now
growing by asking questions. Accurate?
KP: Read John KG’s New Industrial State as an historical work. Mortality rate of governments is about zero, so churn is about zero. Agencies persist. So 1930’s structures persist, embedded mistakes have a very long lifespan.
Q: Disconnect - private state moving one direction, government standing still. As developer, you need to hire private 3rd parties to guide you through the system. What are the elements we can take forward, success models?
— How Do We Design a Future System?
KP Fear - RI government will become more corrupt, worse than it has been. Sources of corruption - misuse of position to create advantage - [Robert Burke? Sociologist -- bosses and machines arise when formal systems fail] by that definition, RI faces potential problems.
CVS - is the local ball team, they want to win in their home stadium (RI). So they work the system to get that win.
RI now cutting gov workers, so more work for those remaining. System slows down. How will people react to this slow down? Will they be tempted to do something inappropriate/illegal.
Constituent services - citizen mad because of ‘the system’ and they are told ‘go scream at the gov or legislator. They in turn lean on the agency to bring that problem to top of the pile. As we hollow out government, we are at great risk.
Q: Private sector uses visionary planning to achieve objectives over time. RI gov does not have this ability. Concept: Dual budgeting system — 1) authorize (governor/vision/strategy) and 2) appropriate (assembly/tactical) — based on objectives. A good idea?
KP: RI budget system is 82 years old, born 1926. Why do we have to live with this forever?
Q: What type of personality traits/characteristics are required to shift the current system?
KP: Multiple sets of talent required. Example of talent, but bad to work with: mindset is controlling and precise, does great at managing risk and keeping numbers. But, innovation and responsiveness were disaster. The issue is recognizing talent and then using it effectively.
Q: Follow up — what about leaders? What do they look like?
KP: Need leaders that are genuinely interested in the talent they have , not the systems.
Obs - Fundamental flaw - government works best when run by people who understand governance. Our system is about politics. Simile - politics: governance as lust: true love. System rewards politics over governance. Collapse is positive in that it could create groundswell.
KP: People change. As vocabularies change, people can learn the new language.
RL - Two references
Garreth Morgan - Images of Organizations: Metaphor rules
James Hillman - Kinds of Power
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