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East is east and west is west… – Values and values

Almost all companies in the world do have values. Sometimes expressed as core values and sometimes as just values. The word value emanates from the latin word ‘Valere’ which means; ‘To be strong/well/powerful’ or ‘To bid farewell or good bye’. There are different meanings of the word however the two most common is about; A, ‘what something is worth, the price of something’ and B, ‘ a persons principles or standards for behavior.’ Sometimes companies mix these meanings when talking about ‘the values we have in this company’ especially when they’re used in marketing.

What is worth considering is the original meaning of the word. Languages develop and some linguists say that a language transform and within a period of about 1000 years we change 30% of all words in a language. A person who’ll experience their ‘second life’ 3-3500 year after her first life will thus not understand her mother language. Irrespective of this, it’s funny how valid the origin of the word ‘valere’ is. When a company decide to have values they also say no to the antonym of the specific value. E.g. take the value ‘quality’ which is a common one. What you do say goodbye to when embracing quality as a value is low class. However that is just the negative part of the word, what about a true quality driven engineering company who develop cutting edge products where there always is a better quality in some engineers eyes? The developers can lean on the companies core value ‘quality’ and postpone the launch of a product since there always is a better quality. The products are not low class. They’re actually – in the eye of the customer – high class.

When a company succeeds with its work with values it can turn out to be rigid, paradoxically even though you might have ‘flexible’ as a value. One might ask if values can be contra productive for companies if we are successful with the internalisation? If we succeed with the value ‘respect’ we’re either so flexible so people can do whatever they would like to do or we’re so conform that we’re all single minded.

Of course there are other variables into this, but the purpose of having values is to set a frame of what is our culture and describe the character of the company. They also guide the behavior and how to make decisions. But what happens when: the values are just meaningless words for the employees? We lack the overall direction of the company and the intention? When the values are too anchored to the leaders? When the stakeholders different intentions are incongruent?

So, what do we say good bye to when having values like: Confidence, Broad-Minded, Committed, Performance, Integrity, Respect etc.?

Can values be contra productive for the culture, when we succeed with the internalisation of the companies’ values?

Are values in most companies valueless, if we not link them with a clear intention?


We have approximately 6000 languages in the world today. Africa has by itself around 1800 languages. We have ‘one’ mathematics and most musicians use the chromatic scale with twelve tones, seven ground tones and five derived tones for composing and playing.

We communicate through the 6 000 languages we have. We count with the mathematic language there is. We create rock, classical music, pop, songs, hip hop, jazz, R & B etc. with the same twelve tones. The tones are sincerely ubiquitous.

So when we count and play music with one mean for communication, why have we during mankind’s evolution kept more than 6000 languages?

There are of course a lot of answers and theories behind this however if you try to summarise the answers, you can say that the reason is to divide people and to unite people.

So, when we communicate and mis-communicate is it due to the fact that it sometimes is good to be divided and sometimes is good to be united?

Presupposition # 16 – Do I love animals or hate plants?

Paul Krugman the Nobel laureate opens one of his blogs with: ‘My old teacher Charles Kindleberger once wrote that the existence of multiple measures of the balance of payments had one great virtue: they allowed observers, by picking and choosing, to be always optimistic or always pessimistic, depending on temperament.’ That is a great way to describe what a presupposition (a thing tacitly assumed beforehand at the beginning of a line of argument or course of action), really is about. What’s really interesting is for a while to think of why we nowadays so often get so diametrical different viewpoints from the same material. Scientists draw almost contradictory conclusions from sometimes the same researches. It is good for you to eat fat vs you shall not eat fat at all. Amalgam is really dangerous vs amalgam doesn’t harm you at all. C02 is the villain to the climate change vs this is all natural variations in temperature etc.

In the end everything boils down to the presuppositions one has. If we all try to get the best understanding possible without letting our prejudices be obstacles to the understanding – we’ll probably go forward in a way that suits most. However it’s very hard to leave all preconceptions we have, when internalising new things.

It’s said that Einstein phrased it like this: ‘ Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by the age of 18.’ We don’t hope that Einstein take offense if we put it like this: ‘Common sense is the assembled amount of presuppositions picked up by the age of 18’.

Paul Krugman’s blog ‘The conscience of a Liberal’ and the article  ‘A hawk for all seasons‘ is in itself a brilliant example of an area and a science where people depending on presuppositions come to very different conclusions. Unfortunately the results of these conclusions affect a whole world and one might wonder if focus for many specialists, scientists and pundits really is to come to an understanding…

So, am I a vegetarian because I love animals or is it because I hate plants?

Is a drifting mind a happy mind?

The strive for happiness seem to be an insatiable desire for many people. We throw ourselves over new remedies coming out from pundits irrespective if it’s a new book, a new method, a new speaker, a new study, a new xx, a new yy… If we scrutinise most of these topics we’ll find that most of the things aren’t new at all however packed in a new way or phrased in another way; it’s a new content but with the same meaning, form and intention as something already known. The phenomenon has been described amongst others things, in the 19th Century tale ‘The emperor’s new clothes’ by the Dane H C Andersen. We might ask ourselves what’s the driving factor behind our hunt for success and if happiness lies in new interior fittings, a family holiday or in new clothes – which we discussed earlier on this site.

In a recent study published in ‘Science’ the Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert discovered that we’re not present in the present. An article in the ‘Scientific American’ is referring to the study and it’s called ‘A wandering mind is an unhappy one’. The article and the study states that the elements of simple everyday happiness is about being focused and present on the things we undertake even though these things could be trivial – not mind challenging tasks at all. The study clearly showed that we’re happiest when thinking about what we’re doing. Even thinking of enjoyable things when performing the task (e.g. ironing a shirt) made people unhappier than those who concentrated themselves in the ironing. The happiest scenario was to not be imagining at all. As the authors of the paper elegantly summarize their work: “a human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”

So maybe it’s all in this question: can I be more present in the present?

If I manage to be more present in the present – do I experience more happiness?

…and since wandering may be bad for happiness, it is fascinating to wonder why we do it…

The study published in ‘Science’

Presupposition # 15 – Hiring overqualified workers?

A hyponym (sub part) of the hypernym (umbrella term) presupposition is our prejudices. Apparently the prevailing presupposition in companies – irrespective of continent – is; don’t hire an overqualified employee since the person eventually will get bored and quit. At first glance the presupposition is true according to an article in Harvard Business Review: ‘The Myth of the Overqualified Worker’, however as the name of the article states it’s a myth. The myth has unfortunately led numbers of experienced, highly skilled people into the ranks of the long-term unemployed. Someone has set the myth and some have kept it but now it’s time to change the myth and set a new frame. The article clearly shows that it’s profitable to employ overqualified workers. As always it boils down to how the workers are managed and if they experience that they are empowered or not.

So, what kind of myths or prejudices do you have that are hinders for progress? Can you set new ones?

How to create a compelling presentation.

Each and every day – managers, sales persons and specialists of any kind hold presentations where the purpose is to convey messages which hopefully will lead to some sort of change. Most of the presenters are prepared in that sense that they have their speaker aid i.e. Powerpoint or Key Note-presentation. Unfortunately, they have forgotten that the slides are there to help the audience to understand the message. In other words it’s an aid for the audience – not a an aid for the speaker. However in reality, the slides truly become an aid for the speaker since it’s more or less his/her script that’s on the slides. We don’t present better today than we did 25 years ago. Most things in the corporate world have developed over the last years – but not how we present.

There are of course some brilliant exceptions. Benjamin Zander, the speaker, teacher and the former conductor of Boston Philharmonic Orchestra really knows how to convey a message and most importantly how to let his audience understand the message, internalise it and remember. In this TED-talk he doesn’t use any visual aid (Ppt or Key Note) but we guarantee you’ll remember his main points. Just watch and listen and reflect upon: how he sets communicative frames, how he changes presuppositions, how he uses metaphors, how he uses not just our left part of the brain in his communication and how he communicates with other channels than the devastating Powerpoint. Brilliant and intriguing!

To experience or not experience – that is the question.

We sometimes tend to downgrade our sensory experiences by using a lot of different devices that determine our experiences. We have a lot of gadgets that measure one thing and another such as pulse watches, scales, sleep tracking, temperature, GPS tracking etc. Most of these things are really valuable aid for us in different situations. However, when do we reach the tipping point where these tools, these aids becomes real dangers to us?

Gary Wolf contributing editor at Wired gives in this short TED presentation (5 minutes) his view of how to use the tools for self improvement, for self discovery, for self awareness and for self knowledge. ‘If we want to act more effectively in the world we had to get to know ourselves better’ says Gary Wolf at the end of the presentation. We definitely agree with him however the first question that arises is: do we want to act more effectively? If yes why don’t we start by shaping our senses and pay attention to what we experience instead of shutting our senses down and put ourselves in a state of unconsciousness of our senses?

Please watch the video and judge for yourself; do I need more data, do I need more things to stimulate my cortex to be happy or do I need to pay attention to how to be more accurate when I experience with my senses?

Presuppositions # 14 – Mapping stereotypes

A stereotype is definitely a chunk or a sub part (hyponym) of the umbrella term (hypernym) presupposition – which is a thing tacitly assumed beforehand. There are a lot of other things one can put under this umbrella such as: beliefs, values, attitudes, preconceived ideas, views, notions, premises etc.

A fun way of expressing different views or to put it another way; to cement stereotypes is made by the visual artist and graphic designer Yanko Tsvetkov. He has drawn different maps of e.g. Europe and South America but with perspectives such as: ‘Europe according to USA’, ‘Europe according to the Vatican’ etc. Please watch and smile and think of which stereotypes you have that help you in your daily life and if you have any that prevent progress.

Do you see what I see?

Most businesses try to move themselves in the value chain to offer something more than just a product. What companies offer their customers is something intangible something with an extra value added. The intangible is sometimes referred to as an enhanced experience.

An experience is something I as a person experience and we tend to be pretty convinced about what we see, hear, feel, smell and taste. However please watch the monkey business illusion – an experiment made by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. They met at Harvard University in 1997 and started to collaborate on research. Mr Simons is at present a Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois. Mr Chabris is is now Assistant Professor of Psychology at Union College in Schenectady, New York and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Neurology at Albany Medical College.

So next time you’re absolutely sure of what you’ve seen please remember that when you’re looking for a gorilla you often miss other unexpected events.

The boom and the bust – Keynes vs Hayek

Our human brain seems to be especially adapted to understand the world through stories. Most of us remember and has learned important things just because we could associate something with a story or simply because we remember the story. Those of us that struggled with the economic theories of Keynes and the Austrian school during long boring lectures at the university, wished that the professors could have been better story tellers. But there’s hope for us; a video made by producer John Papola and economist Russ Roberts, and backed by the Mercatus Center of George Mason University is really describing the differences between Keynes and Hayek in a simple, straight forward and brain friendly way of learning. It’s a rap and within 5 minutes one understands what differ the economic theories, something some professors couldn’t explain during a whole term. To enhance the experience it can be good to read Jeffery A Tucker’s article (editor at http://mises.org/ ), where you also can watch the video.

Wild and good ideas struck each and everyone of us. The combination of good ideas and how to carry them out distinguish if things become a success or if things become something ordinary or commonplace. Judge for yourself if Papola and Roberts have succeeded – however we find this video and the story intriguing.

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