Category Archives: Social
The Interplay Between Communicating & Relating
The relating that occurs between human beings is a function of the communicating that is occurring between these human beings; the communicating that is occurring between human beings is function of the relating that is occurring. Which is to say that the communicating and relating are essentially in a dynamic dance with one another.
Which is primary? It occurs to me that communicating is primary: as linguistic beings we cannot help but communicate and this communicating influences/shapes relating. It is through your communicating with me that I get access to your relating to me: how you see me, how you are positioning yourself in relation to me, how you are likely to treat me, whether I can trust you or not, whether you are ‘giver’, a ‘matcher’, or a ‘taker’.
If you get this then you get the critical importance of the communicating that occurs between the people in an organisation and the customers of the organisation. How the people in your organisation communicate with customers will impact the customer experience – sometime dramatically. Let’s take a look at two examples and listen to their impact.
The Marketer’s Way Of Communicating With Customers
Take a look at this email from ILX . Pretty graphics aside, this is what the email says:
Let us pay your exam fee!
WE’VE MISSED YOU
As a previous ILX customer we just wanted to touch base with you and see how your training went and more importantly find out if your career has benefited from gaining new qualifications with us!
We have included a free Best practice map PDF for you which may help you work out what your next step could be. Download PDF >
Is there anything we can help you with in furthering your qualifications? We are here and ready to give you any assistance that you may require.
Maybe you’re considering another course with ILX?
We are constantly developing our e-learning to ensure it’s the best in the industry so you get the highest quality learning that we can provide.
We hope to hear from you soon!
Quote MISSYOUEMAIL when contacting us
If you have more than five people who wants to take part in our e-learning please contact one of our dedicated team for the best offers at email@example.com or call us on +44 (0)1270 611 600
What was my experience on opening-reading this email communication? This communication showed for me as inauthentic: false. How can ILX miss me? The people in this organisation do not know me! And if they genuinely wanted to touch base with me and find out how my training went then why did they not call me a year ago when I actually took the training? And what do they mean by “Is there anything we can help you with in furthering your qualifications?” They certainly don’t mean help as in help of the everyday human kind. What they mean is, what can we persuade you to buy from us in the guise of helping you.
So how am I left feeling about ILX? I am left feeling that ILX is just another ‘taker’ organisation looking to extract as much money as they can from me. Especially now that summer is here and people will be taking holidays rather than taking courses. So their offer to pay my exam fee is no act of generosity.
The Human Way To Communicate With Your Customers
Take a look at the following email and ask yourselves how you would be left feeling on opening-receiving this email:
We just received your order and will process it within 48 hours.
Your order # 204-0742925-4073103 shows the following items:
Love and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership
If you have any questions or issues with this order please email us by replying to this message or email us at [email removed].
If you have any concerns at any time about this order, please email us right away with your Order ID#.
I found myself surprised and delighted. Why? Because this email speaks to me as I wish to be spoken with: it is everyday communication between two human beings. It oozes the kind of humanity that speaks to me: friendliness, warmth, caring. I find myself wanting to know more about this organisation (Slategrey Books UK) and about Melissa.
Why Have I Shared This With You?
If you are serious about showing up and competing on the basis of the Customer Experience then you need to pay attention to the quality of your communicating with your customers. Take a good look at your communications across the customer journey ask yourself if your communications are generating the kind of customer experience that builds connection. If they are not then you are likely to be better off using the services of good copywriters than spending a fortune on marketing automation systems that ultimately will enable you to deliver ‘junk’ to your customers at scale. And in the process annoy customers like me who then end up sharing their experience on social media – just like I am doing now.
I invite you to take a zen like look into the whole ‘voice of the customer’ thing. By ‘voice of the customer’ I mean the practice of using customer surveys to get customer feedback. And then turning these individuals customer surveys into tables, charts, reports, and presentations which are fed to managers. By zen I mean a simple direct looking into the concrete reality void of ideology-conceptualisation and self deception.
What do you see when you take that zen like look at this ‘voice of the customer’ thing? Here is what shows up for me: I do not hear the voice of the customer! There is no voice of the customer! So what is there? Paper, ink, text, diagrams; no human voice speaks.
We, human beings, are masters of self-deception. We are told that being effective with customers starts with customer insight. We are told that being effective involves listening to the voice of the customer. We are told that being effective requires ‘walking in the shoes’ of the customer. What do we do? We get busy with technology centred services that keep Tops and Middles as distant, as insulated, from customers as usual. But now with the illusion of being in contact with the customer!
Before I go on, I wish to make it clear that I am not bashing ‘voice of the customer’ surveying. These surveys, if designed, implemented, and used correctly can provide some useful information. And if the limitations are gotten by those who need to get them (Tops and Middles) then they can be a useful tool. However, this is not what I have experienced. What have I experienced? It occurs to me that many managers use this tools to avoid actually listening to the voice of the customer. And to stay within their comfort zones: the office-corporate environment.
So what does it take to access AND hear the voice of the customer. I invite you to read and ponder the following (bolding is my work):
How do your decisions affect customers and suppliers? It’s hard for us to imagine this well if we don’t really know the customers and vendors we work with. And we can’t know them if we hardly ever see them. This is one reason why it’s so important to give people a chance to get …., out of their offices, and out of the building, to visit the people they serve.
Whenever manufacturing or design people actually make site visits and see firsthand how customers are using their products, they develop a new insightful imaginative feel for the needs of the customer, and sometimes the plight of the customer. They come face to face with what really works well and what doesn’t work as it should. They hear from other real people what they like and don’t like about the product, what they need and what they’d really like to have if it were just possible. When the end user becomes a face and a voice, a genuine, three dimensional human being, it is much more difficult to ignore his or her interests and needs. This is a natural impetus for good decision making, with the customer’s interest at heart.
- Tom Morris, If Aristotle Ran General Motors
Is this all there is to get another human being – be s/he a customer, an employee, a partner or a supplier? No. Even in my home I notice that some of us prefer not to be present to that which is so. Why? Because being present to the reality of the impact of our behaviour can be painful especially if we are committed to keeping our existing practices intact.
So what does it take to get another human being: his/her needs, his/her experience, his/her dreams? I invite you to read-ponder the following:
… we need to cultivate a perceptive imagination on two different levels. First, we need imagination on a small scale. We need empathy. You can’t know how you would want to be treated if you were in another person’s shoes unless you can imagine what it would be like to be in his shoes. It is hard to develop empathy in a robust form without getting to know in concrete and detailed ways the people with whom we need to empathise. One of the most important business commandments then should be: Know thy customer. And it’s equal should be: Know thy associate…… Service and empathy must flow through an organisation first if they are to flow out unimpeded to those with whom the organisation does business.
We also need to cultivate imagination on a large scale, a vivid vision for our lives and our businesses. We need an imaginative conception of what we are doing, a big picture for the contribution we are making to the world. We need a map with coordinates to guide us in our concrete day-to-day decisions….. With a powerful ethical vision directing all our thoughts, we don’t need long list of rules to guide us. We are both informed and inspired to do what is right.
- Tom Morris, If Aristotle Ran General Motors
Summing up, if I am to access and hear the richness of the voice of my customers, my associates, my value creation partners, then the starting point is dropping my ego which constantly calls out “Me, me, ME!”. And rigorously embracing practices that call forth fellow feeling; moving from an I-It way of showing up and travelling in the world to the I-Thou mode. What I have found is that as I do this the workability of my relationships and my effectiveness-impact increases. So does my experience of being alive and being fulfilled. What about you?
I thank you for your listening and I hope you will cause-create a great weekend for yourselves and your fellow human beings starting with those with whom you are in most intimate contact. And if you happen to be a Top or a Middle and are serious about listening to your customers then leave your office and go talk with real flesh+blood human beings. And note that you will not have listened, really listened, until you humanity (the best of you) has been called forth and put into these encounters with your fellow human beings disguised as ‘customers’. Incidentally, this is what social really is.
This is long conversation and likely to be of interest to those of you who have experienced the limitations of knowledge as it is commonly understood. It may also be of interest to you if you glimpsed the radical difference between knowing and knowing about. If this is not you, then please go do something else.
How Useful Is The Knowledge Gained Through Market Research?
There is a huge industry that caters to the needs of business folks (often those in the marketing function) to know their customers or their target audience/market. I am speaking of the market research industry: qualitative (focus groups etc), quantitative (surveys), and a mix of each. In recent years, a new breed of player has entered this industry: the Voice of the Customer industry with its many technology solutions providers focussed almost exclusively on feedback through surveys. How useful is this research? What are its limits? What can you really know about your customer/s through this kind of knowing?
What Does It Take To Know Your Customer? The Short Answer
There is one well know market research organisation that sells and ‘supplies’ market research to many big brands who are keen to know their customers. This organisation knows it stuff: market research. Given this one would assume that the folks in this organisation would know all they need to know about their customers – those who commission the research (on their customers and target markets). What is actually the case?
One of the growth challenges, of this marketing research organisation, is a lack of understanding, knowledge, of its customers. How can this be? This organisation has an army of professional market researchers, an array of market research technologies, a broad range of tools that it uses every day; and history/track record of conducting all kinds of research.
Clearly, market research, that this organisations does and sells, does not provide the kind of knowing that it is seeking of its own customers. So the short answer is it takes more than market research whether through focus groups or surveys. Whilst this kind of knowledge may be interesting, even somewhat useful, it is not sufficient.
What Does It Take To Know Your Customer? The Long Answer
To answer this question it is necessary to clearly understand-distinguish between ‘knowing’ and ‘knowing about’. Once you get this distinction you get why it is that the market research companies has no real understanding of its customers. You will also get why it is that most advice given by sales gurus to sales reps is useless.
Should you use your valuable time to master this distinction? Let me put it this way, I say, mastering this distinction is one of the most important distinctions, if not the most important, distinction to master for effective living. Once you master this distinction you can focus on what really generates knowledge. And you will no longer need to be bewitched and misled by the many academic articles, business books, guru, advisors and consultant. You may even see that this stuff is worse than useless, it is dangerous!
What distinguishes ‘knowing’ from ‘knowing about’?
I invite you to read the following passage with someone who has grappled with this question not theoretically but through lived experience:
When I was working on the Meaning of Anxiety, I spent a year and a half in bed in a tuberculosis sanatorium. I had a great deal of time to ponder the meaning of anxiety – and plenty of first hand data on myself and my fellow anxious patients. In the course of time I studied two books ….: one by Freud, The Problem of Anxiety, and the other by Kierkegaard, TheConcept of Anxiety.
I valued highly Freud’s formulations …… But these were still theories. Kierkegaard, on the other hand, described anxiety as the struggle as the living being with nonbeing which I could immediately experience in my struggle with death or the prospect of being a lifelong invalid……
What powerfully struck me then was that Kierkegaard was writing about exactly what my fellow patients and I were going through. Freud was not..… Kierkegaard was portraying what is immediately experienced by human beings in crisis….. Freud was writing on the technical level, where his genius was supreme ….. he knew about anxiety. Kierkegaard, a genius of a different order, was writing on the existential, ontological level; he knew anxiety.
- Rollo May, The Discovery Of Being
Have you gotten the distinction? Kierkegaard knew anxiety in the only way that generates knowing: through experiencing it, living it, being anxious. Freud, knew about anxiety.
Failing to distinguish ‘knowing about’ from ‘knowing’ compromises effective action and generates unintended outcomes
Let’s do a thought experiment. Imagine that I can get a bunch of data about you: name, address, age, marital status, number of children, job, income, what you spend your money on, where you spend your time, your height, your weight, colour of your eyes…… Clearly I know about you. And I might get to thinking that I know you. Do I? Do I really know you as a living-breathing human being?
Before you answer that question, I ask you read and truly get present to the profound insight that is being communicated in the following passage:
The Mexican sierra has 17 plus 15 plus 9 spines in the dorsal fin. These can easily be counted. But if the sierra strikes hard on the line so that our hands are burned, if the fish sounds and nearly escapes and finally comes in over the rail, his colors pulsing and his tail beating the air, a whole new relational externality has come into being – an entity which is more than the sum of the fish plus the fisherman.
The only way to count the spines of the sierra unaffected by this second relational reality is to sit in a laboratory, open an evil smelling jar, remove a still colourless fish from the formalin solution, count the spines, and write the truth…… There you have recorded a reality which cannot be assailed – probably the least important reality concerning the fish or yourself.
It is good to know what you are doing. The man with his pickled fish has set down one truth and recorded in his experience many lies. The fish is not that colour, that texture, that dead, nor does he smell that way“
- Steinbeck and Ricketts, 1971, pp 3-3
Life occurs in the arena, is dynamic, is ALWAYS relational, and every observation and ‘lesson’ is context specific. Knowing occurs in the arena. Genuine, deep, insightful knowing occurs in and amongst those who spend sufficient time playing full out in the arena to transcend discrete objects-events and experience-see relationships, patterns and the deeper structures that generate the patterns and thus the events.
Most of what is spoken, written about and passes for knowledge in Western society is that which can be observed, relatively painlessly, by sitting in the stands observing what appears to be going on (as viewed by the observer with his particular ‘line of sight’) in the arena: knowing about. It is ok for non-relational objects. It is ok for abstract concepts. It is ok for that which is static. It is totally insufficient when it comes to the living: the individual, the social system, life in its fullest expression.
You can never know a human being (customer, employee) through focus groups or surveys. To know a human being you/i must walk in the shoes of that human being and experience situations, people, encounters as s/he experiences them. And this is not as easy as it sounds. Even when you walk in someone’s shoes it is useful to be aware that it is your feet doing the walking. Which means that to get an appreciation for how the other experiences ‘walking in his/her shoes’ you need to have the genuine openness-willingness-curiousity-patience to walk with the other for long enough to get a feel for the others feet such that you arrive at a place where you can walk in the others shoes.
I leave you with the following quotes:
There are certain things you can only know by creating them for yourself
- Werner Erhard
That which really matters in human life can only be known through lived experience; this knowing can rarely be communicated to those who have not created this knowing for themselves through lived experience.
- maz iqbal
Make it a great week. For my part, I find it a joy to be sharing that which I share with you especially after a wonderful experiential vacation in beautiful Dubrovnik.
Tags: customer experience, customer insight, experiential knowledge, in the arena v from the stands, knowing, knowing about, knowing your customer, knowledge, limits of language, market research, relationship, the limits of data driven knowledge, Voice of the Customer
This is a long post. You will only get value out of it if you find yourself genuinely interested in human beings and experience design.
What Comes Before Customer Experience Management?
More and more I come across the term Customer Experience Management. As I sit with this term, this thought occurs to me: “You must have something in place before you are in a position to manage it!” Put differently, before I am in a position to manage the operation of a building, the building must exist – be in place.
I get there is a different sense of manage as in project management: where one oversees the planning and execution of a project. Yet, I do not see Customer Experience as a project say like a marketing campaign is distinct project with a start and a finish. Customer Experience shows up for me as a way of showing up and doing business with customers which emphasises the critical important of the customer’s holistic experience of your business.
For me the word that rightfully occurs after Customer Experience is design. It occurs to me that this is the first and foremost challenge of Customer Experience: designing customer experiences that speak to customers and leave them feeling great at being associated with your business – association includes yet is not limited to buying from your business. Let’s use the analogy of a rocket launch. It occurs to me that Customer Experience Design is the equivalent of doing that which is necessary to actually get the rocket off the ground. If the rocket does not get off the ground all else is superfluous.
Now I ask you to ponder this, why is there so much talk of voice of the customer and Customer Experience Management and almost nobody talks about Customer Experience Design? Really dive into this question with an open-inquisitive-questioning mind and you may just see why it is that so many have achieved so little in the domain of Customer Experience.
What Does It Take To Design Great Customer Experiences?
My short answer to this question is that all that you/i need to know is disclosed-shared by Amanda Burden in the TED talk below. I urge you to watch it, and watch it again. Here is the talk:
I share with you aspects of the talk which resonate most deeply with me and my lived experience of business and in particular the domain of Customer including Customer Experience.
1. Seeing What Really Matters, What It Is All About?
“When people think about cities, they tend to think of certain things. They think of buildings and streets and skyscrapers, noisy cabs. But when I think about cities, I think about people. Cities are fundamentally about people, and where people go and where people meet are at the core of what makes a city work…“
My take? The game of life, of business, of performance, of Customer Experience is about people! In our obsession with strategy, with operations, with processes, with data, with technology (do we love technology!) we are oblivious to fact that these games are fundamentally about people and in particular the human (existential) dimension.
2. Direct Observation Into The details Of Human Behaviour
” ….. enjoyable public spaces are the key to planning a great city….. But what makes a public space work? ……. One of the first spaces that I studied was this little vest pocket park called Paley Park in midtown Manhattan…. what was it about this space that made it special and drew people to it? Well, I would sit in the park and watch very carefully, and first among other things were the comfortable, movable chairs. People would come in, find their own seat, move it a bit, actually, and then stay a while, and then interestingly, people themselves attracted other people, and ironically, I felt more peaceful if there were other people around. And it was green. This little park provided what New Yorker’s crave: comfort and greenery …”
My take? Great experiences are designed. The design follows detailed observation of human behaviour. Can anyone do this work? No, it takes people like Amanda who are both trained in the field of human behaviour AND are in touch with their own humanity. Notice, Amanda noticed that she felt more peaceful in that park when there were other people around. And being in tune with her own experience (bodily state, feelings, thoughts, mood) she was able to guess that this park met the New Yorker’s craving for comfort and greenery. Put differently, direct observation AND lived experience led to inductive thinking – the kind of thinking that does not show up when one is process mapping in the office or poring over VoC reports.
3. Designers Who Have The Requisite Grasp Of Human Beings AND Find Themselves Called To Enrich Lives
“… one of the more wonky things about me is that I am an animal behaviorist, and I use those skills not to study animal behavior but to study how people in cities use city public spaces… For me, becoming a city planner meant being able to truly change the city that I lived in and loved. I wanted to be able to create places that would give you the feeling that you got in Paley Park, and not allow developers to build bleak plazas like this….. I was determined to create places that would make a difference in people’s lives.“
My take? When I see an organisation using the lean-six sigma-process guys to staff their Customer Experience effort, I know it is doomed. These folks lack that which it takes to craft experiences that speak to customers. What do they lack? Humanity – they are not sufficiently in tune with their humanity so how can they be in tune with the humanity of others? Process folks are focused on efficiency/throughput. Not comfort, not connection, not beauty… What they are not called to do nor determined to do is to create experiences (and ways of doing business) that make a difference in people’s (customers, frontline personnel) lives.
4. Great Experiences Need To Be Lived-Experienced Before They Are Implemented; Details Make The Difference
“…. just to make sure, I insisted that we build a mock-up in wood, at scale, of the railing and the sea wall. And when I sat down on that test bench with sand still swirling all around me, the railing hit exactly at eye level, blocking my view and ruining my experience at the water’s edge.
So you see, details really do make a difference. But design is not just how something looks, it’s how your body feels on that seat in that space, and I believe that successful design always depends on that very individual experience. In this photo, everything looks very finished, but that granite edge, those lights, the back on that bench, the trees in planting, and the many different kinds of places to sit were all little battles that turned this project into a place that people wanted to be.“
My take? To design customer experience one needs to be clear on what actually constitutes an experience. And in the domain of customer experience one has to experience-live the customer experience (on more than one occasion) in order to grasp the critical importance of the little details – the kind that are not on the minds of those redesigning processes and/or experiences in the comfort of the office.
5. Cultivating Customer Trust Starts With A Deep ‘Listening’ In The Deepest Sense of Listening
“So how was I going to get this done? By listening. So I began listening, in fact, thousands of hours of listening just to establish trust. You know, communities can tell whether or not you understand their neighborhoods. It’s not something you can just fake. And so I began walking. I can’t tell you how many blocks I walked, in sweltering summers, in freezing winters, year after year, just so I could get to understand the DNA of each neighborhood and know what each street felt like. I became an incredibly geeky zoning expert, finding ways that zoning could address communities’ concerns.”
My Take? Consider what it takes to generate customer insight (and trust). Consider what listening actually involves: listening to the voice of the customer directly (thousand of hours) and listening by experiencing that which the customer experiences by walking in his/her shoes in “sweltering summers, in freezing winters, year after year…”. Now compare that with what the big brand consultants peddle, and what VoC offers. As I have stated in a previous post: “There is ALWAYS a price. It is ALWAYS paid. We only get to choose whether we pay the price right up front, during the middle, or at the end.” Notice, Amanda paid the price right up front. Which is why her work turned out to be a success when implemented.
6. To Design Great Customer Experiences Tap Into Your Humanity, Not Your Design Expertise
“So what’s the trick? How do you turn a park into a place that people want to be? Well, it’s up to you, not as a city planner but as a human being. You don’t tap into your design expertise. You tap into your humanity. I mean, would you want to go there? Would you want to stay there? Can you see into it and out of it? Are there other people there? Does it seem green and friendly? Can you find your very own seat?“
My take? I do not have any design expertise. Yet, I find myself well fitted to the challenge of experience design. Why? Because I find that all it has taken for me to design customer experiences (and the associated changes in the frontline experience) is the capacity and willingness to tap into my humanity: to put myself in the place of the customer (and the frontline) person – to experience that which they experience and a burning desire-commitment to making a difference in their humanity as lived-experienced. Which is to say, I find myself in total agreement with Amanda. And, design expertise-tools have their place, can come handy – just as a saw has its place can come handy in the hands of a carpenter who loves working wood to create beauty.
On The Centrality Of Ethics And Practical Wisdom To The Workability Of Our Lives, Our Organisations, Our Institutions
This is a conversation about ethics and wisdom. As such it is unfashionable – not in tune with the cultural context amidst which we live our lives.
This conversation will not make you a smarter-more cunning marketer. Nor will it increase your close rate and drive up your sales effectiveness. It definitely will not help you to talk lyrically about the customer whilst doing everything in your power to reduce the level of service your provide to your customers after they have become customers. If this is why you find yourself here then I suggest you leave now.
Do Ethics and Wisdom Matter In A ‘Scientific’ Age?
On my LinkedIn profile I have written the following:
Inspired by the possibility of a world that works for all, none excluded. Committed to being a source of workability-performance-transformation. And travelling through life in a manner that elevates-honours all. Enjoy conversations of the authentic-human kind.
What is the scientific basis for this freely chosen way of showing up and travelling in this world? What is the ROI? The first question can only be asked by a man of ‘reason’ – one working in a laboratory, with no worldly entanglements, and a limited, possibly non-existent, moral horizon. The second question is probably the fundamental question that every Taker asks himself: what is in it for me, personally?
I find neither of these questions relevant as I strive to show up and operate from an ethical stance. Not a scientific stance. Nor a ROI stance. Does ethics and moral wisdom matter? Can we live well, given that living well always involves living well with others, by embracing ‘reason’ and ROI? Put differently, is ethics and moral wisdom mere superstition and as such can be jettisoned? Let’s leave aside the theory and look at the phenomena.
Shambles and Lack Of Empathy At Gatwick Airport
Yesterday, Ian Golding wrote the following:
In all my years travelling to and from the UK, I have never witnessed a queue for passport control quite like it. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people were snaking around the airport building. Everyone looked rather bewildered….
….. for the 50 minutes I battled through the queue, I heard not one announcement, and not one member of staff from either Gatwick Airport or the border force bothered to make themselves visible to help or advise passengers……..
The experience was not made any better by finally arriving at a desk. As my passport was taken out of my hand, I was not greeted by an apology, or even an acknowledgement of the wait. Instead, I was told that ‘this is not my fault, it’s the system’…..
I do not hold them responsible for there clearly being no contingency plan in place. However I do expect that they should be able to empathise with the people they are serving.…
Now here is something that speaks volumes for those who have the listening for it:
Credit should be given to the thousands of customers who quietly and diligently stood in line. I personally did not witness a raised word despite the shambles – there was almost a sad acceptance that this happens in the UK…
If you can read the following article and pay particular attention to the language of the several officials:
A government spokesman said: “We are currently experiencing temporary IT problems which may add to the time taken to conduct passport checks…. We are working to rectify this issue and are providing extra staff to get passengers through the controls as quickly as possible. Our priority remains security of the border. We apologise for any additional time this adds to passengers’ journeys.”
A Heathrow spokesman said: “There are some longer queues than normal in the terminals but we have spoken to border force and they are putting on extra staff… Obviously we want to sort the issue out but not risk the integrity of the border controls.”
Ask yourself if these words could be spoken by a robots. Better still ask yourselves whether these words are more befitting of robots or human beings? Ask yourself where, in these words, there is any care-concern-empthy for the human beings who found themselves amidst the shambles, trying to figure out what was going on. And many of who will have missed their onward connections and found themselves fending for themselves.
How Did The Staff At Sports Direct Treat A Young Mother?
Yesterday, I came across this article about a protest by mothers at a Sports Direct store. What led to this protest?
.….. staff members allegedly told Wioletta Komar that she could not breast feed her baby because it was “against company policy”. She was then made to leave the store and continue feeding her child in the rain while she waited for her husband, according to the Nottingham Post. Mrs Komar claims she has complained to the store five times since the incident, but has received no response…
Do we have so little regard-love for our own mothers so that we can accord no consideration-respect to this mother?
Where is our sense of decency, of fellow feeling, of moral wisdom? What would it have taken for a member of staff to go up to Wioletta, invite her into the staff room, offer her a chair? And in the process connect with her as a fellow human being.
What does the law say on this matter? According to the article:
Breastfeeding in public is protected by the Equality Act 2010, which states that businesses must not discriminate against a woman who is breastfeeding.
The Nonsense of Scientific Management: What Gets Measured Gets Done, Really?
I can think of no better example of the folly of mere ‘scientific’ thinking-acting than the exclusive focus on metrics, incentives (rewards) and punishments. Some are so lacking in practical wisdom that they loudly proclaim: what gets measured gets done!
Successive UK government’s have made a big play of how crime is coming down. Metrics driven crime recording and performance management systems have been put in place. And the figures have consistently showed a drop in crime.
What does the first official inquiry into the accuracy of the crime figures provided by the police have to say? Here are the highlights from this article:
The police are failing to record as much as 20% of crime – equal to three-quarters of a million offences – including 14 cases of rape and some serious sexual offences…..
The interim report also shows that some offenders have been issued with out-of-court fixed penalty fines when they should have been prosecuted instead…
…… police failure to record crime properly may stem from poor knowledge of the rules or workload but adds that he can’t rule out that it might be the result of discreditable or unethical behaviour by officers.
Well are the crime figures being deliberately fiddled or is it just pure incompetence? One way of answering this question is to ask how did this official inquiry come about? According to the same article:
The interim report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Tom Winsor, was ordered by the home secretary following claims of widespread fiddling of the police recorded crime figures by a whistleblower which have been endorsed by MPs.
Let’s take a moment to get present to what is happening here! The very people who are charged with upholding the law are not. Why not? I say that the ethical foundation and moral wisdom that is the essential ground for effective policing and the just rule of the law is no longer present: if it not dead then surely it is on it’s deathbed.
Does this fiddling of crime figures matter? Does it really matter? It seems rather academic doesn’t it? What is the big deal if the police are failing to record up to 20% of crime. Now I invite you to step away from the deliberately bland language of academic-managerial-political speech and look at the phenomena: the human impact. What is the human impact? Here are examples that bring the human back into the conversation:
Among the cases HMIC cites as wrongly written off are:
• An allegation by a 13-year-old autistic boy who told his parents he had been raped by a 15-year-old male friend which was wrongly written off by the police as sexual experimentation.
• A report to the police of rape by a doctor on behalf of a female patient who had consented to sex but told the man to stop when it began to hurt. A supervisory officer ruled that no crime had occurred.
This is not the only case of unethical behaviour, lack of integrity, and the lack of moral wisdom. Just this week I came across this article: Department for Work is government’s worst at providing a living wage. Why is this a big deal? Because it is the government department that pays taxpayer funded top ups for those of our fellow human beings on low pay. And this government department was the first one to ‘commit itself to paying a living wage, a voluntary scheme under which employers pledge to supplement the legally binding national minimum wage.’
Case after case suggests that the lack of integrity, unethical behaviour and the lack of practical-moral wisdom is now the norm: the default setting at all levels of society.
What Is The Cause Of The Loss Of Moral Wisdom And Lack Of Ethical Thought-Behaviour?
In the age of enlightenment where ‘reason’ and science were being embraced and the old world order was collapsing some saw the perils down the road. Let’s listen:
What conclusion is to be drawn from this paradox so worthy of being born in our time; and what will become of virtue when one has to get rich at all costs. The ancient political thinkers forever spoke of morals and virtue; ours speak only of commerce and money.
- Jean Jacques Rousseau, Discourses on the Sciences and Arts
I get that you may not have the same interest-passion for dead philosophers as I do. So allow me to share with you the voice of Barry Schwartz – a psychologist and professor of sociology.
Barry Schwartz On The Loss of Practical And Especially Moral Wisdom
Barry Schwatz has delivered a number of TED talks. This talk was delivered in 2009 and TED describes it as follows:
Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.
I leave you with these final thoughts:
First, as Heidegger pointed out we do not live-operate in a scientific laboratory an ‘objective’ observers looking at the world. No, we are an intrinsic part of the world: a human being is ALWAYS a being-in-the-world even when s/he dies.
Second, a human being is never just a being-in-the-world. S/he is always and necessarily a being-in-the-world-with-others. Ask yourself in what sense you could possibly be a human being if you were magically born into a world without human beings. Ask yourself where you would be if upon birth there was no human being there to care for you.
Third, a human being is being whose being is to necessarily take a stand on his being. Another way of saying this is to ‘existence is our essence’ or ‘custom is our nature’. Which is to say we collectively make ourselves through our vision of what it is to be a human being. Each age is characterised by a particular vision of what it is to be a human being.
Fourth, we have, on the whole and for the most part especially in organisation and institutional settings, become heartless, self-interested, calculating-manipulative, creatures because we have bought into and been conditioned into this way of thinking and operating as human beings..
Fifth, look around and get present to that which is so. The flowering of the scientific view of man and the world has not brought us to lived experience of nirvana. What it has brought us is longer lives and more comfort. And on the whole and for the most part we do not find ourselves happier. We do not find ourselves experiencing aliveness-fulfillment-joy. We find ourselves living in a world devoid of the basics (compassion, empathy, kindness, brotherhood) that make a human life truly worth living.
Sixth, you and I have a choice to bring ethical living and practical-moral wisdom back into the worlds in which we show up and travel. How? Be expanding our definition of ‘reason’ to include ethics and practical-moral wisdom. And by so doing we will be giving back to the term ‘reason’ to its original fullness – that which was so before the modern age reduced ‘reason’ to its current understanding-practice
If you have made it this far, I thank you for the generosity of your listening. And I invite you to show up and travel as a leader in life by taking the lead in embodying ethical practices and moral wisdom.