Had the woman who put in an offer for our house just over a year ago gone through with it she would now be sitting on a large paper loss. Had we accepted the seemingly massive reduction her young brother, who worked in financial services, suggested we would be debt free and living somewhere smaller that we owned out right and she would be nursing a much smaller paper loss. In either case, I would probably have been feeling fairly smug right now at my foresight and financial acumen. As it is I feel, in John Brunner’s phrase, “Like a dead leaf in the gale.” Why then, in a peculiar way, do I, at this time in our history, feel that this might be a happier place to be?
You might find Typealyzer quite fun. You enter your url and it does a swift Myers-Briggs analysis. Here’s mine:
“The analysis indicates that the author of http://www.purposivedrift.net is of the type:
INTP – The Thinkers
The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.
They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.”
For what it’s worth when I did a quick test a few months ago I was a bit more touchy feely:
INFP (Introverted Intuitive Feeling Perceiving)
Over the past few weeks I have been submerged in the flow of bad economic news. The optimism of my posts like, “Was I wrong?” has become very subdued. Here are three good accounts of how we got into this mess to reinforce the gloom:
Jonathan Ford’s “A greedy giant out of control”
Michael Lewis’s “The End”
Karl Moore’s interview with Henry Mintzberg “A Crisis of Management not Economics”
And for UK readers Willem Buiter really puts the knife in:
“Could the UK face a sterling crisis, or are we in one already?”
However, despite the tsunami of gloom and some personal circumstances that ain’t that great I still wonder whether the gloom is being over done. I think back a few day to a piece wrote about Gillian Tett, “Listen for the silences”, where she says:
“… one of the things I learned as an anthropologist is that to understand how a society works you need to not just look at the areas of what we call ‘social noise’ – ie what everyone likes to talk about, so the equity markets and M&A and all the high-profile areas everyone can see. But you need to look at the social silences as well.”
May be now, more than ever, we ought to be looking for the light in the silences rather than being overwhelmed by the noise of the sky falling in.
“We should reject the idea that the mind is something inside of us that is basically matter of just a calculating machine. There are different reasons to reject this. But one is, simply put: there is nothing inside us that thinks and feels and is conscious. Consciousness is not something that happens in us. It is something we do.
A much better image is that of the dancer. A dancer is locked into an environment, responsive to music, responsive to a partner. The idea that the dance is a state of us, inside of us, or something that happens in us is crazy. Our ability to dance depends on all sorts of things going on inside of us, but that we are dancing is fundamentally an attunement to the world around us.”
From an excellent talk about consciousness by Alva Noë at Edge.org.
I missed Laura Barton’s Guardian interview with the FT’s Gillian Bett, but thanks to the ever alert Russell Davies I’ve now picked it up. I’ve been following Gillian Bett for some time, because she was one the first journalists to warn about the dangers of derivatives, but I didn’t know much about her or her background. What I hadn’t realised was that she trained as an anthropologist and attributes her insights into derivatives to that training:
“‘I happen to think anthropology is a brilliant background for looking at finance,’ she reasons. “Firstly, you’re trained to look at how societies or cultures operate holistically, so you look at how all the bits move together. And most people in the City don’t do that. They are so specialised, so busy, that they just look at their own little silos. And one of the reasons we got into the mess we are in is because they were all so busy looking at their own little bit that they totally failed to understand how it interacted with the rest of society.’
‘But the other thing is, if you come from an anthropology background, you also try and put finance in a cultural context. Bankers like to imagine that money and the profit motive is as universal as gravity. They think it’s basically a given and they think it’s completely apersonal. And it’s not. What they do in finance is all about culture and interaction.'”
She goes on to say, “… one of the things I learned as an anthropologist is that to understand how a society works you need to not just look at the areas of what we call ‘social noise’ – ie what everyone likes to talk about, so the equity markets and M&A and all the high-profile areas everyone can see. But you need to look at the social silences as well.”
Do go on to read the whole interview, as I said in an earlier post,this one is “Not just for anthropologists”, nor for that matter just for people interested in finance or business, but for all of us, particularly her admonition that “you need to look at the social silences”. Advice we would all do well to notice.
In this time when no one really knows what is going on Roger Martin, Dean of Rotman School of Management, makes an excellent case for what he calls design thinking in this must see short video interview. He makes an important distinction between choosing between existing models to decide what to to do – the approach that is taught in most business schools – and the the ability to create new models on which to base action – which is what he mean by design thinking.
Do watch this video, it short, but worth every second.
Thanks to metacool for the link.