|Natural Acts||Society and Evolution||Population|
|Unnatural Acts||Species Definition|
|From Generalist to Specialist|
Figure 1. Rectangular Sunburst Diagram
SOCIETY AND EVOLUTIONThe nature of human society and how it evolved are important parts of what I think about. This essay looks at society and evolution from the following viewpoints:
I have developed a sense of incrementally informed speculation. It is what any human does when there is enough information in the mind and confidence in the soul. So here is some of mine.
Humankind developed as a tropic animal. After we started using secondary skins from other animals - and textiles, too - as clothes we began to migrate into other climates. Shelter also became necessary and caves were a "natural." It is common to think of our ancestors as cave people but that probably came after other forms of shelter: it took a while to navigate into the cold North.
5,000 Other Humans
In some of my work I have been in a building with 5,000 other humans. Each worked, day after day, in an average of 200 square feet. This is way too crowded for humans, but I am civilized enough to tolerate it. I have long practiced "keeping sane by walking around." This is a variant of "management by walking around" (Peters & Waterman, 1982). "Happy Groups"
In my career I have been the most happy in groups of about 16 to 32. That is where my tribal sense has found the most fulfillment. The best professional experience I have had was a part of the Naval Tactical Data System project office. The group was about 16 Naval Engineering Duty Officers. We had a flow goal of creating a computer system that would solve in real time the problem of optimizing the fighting ability of a Naval ship . . . or ships and aircraft in groups. Density
During the primal period human groups of about 600 individuals would range over about 3000 square miles. Each individual required about 5 to 10 square miles of land to sustain life (Washburn & Devore, 1972, p. 128). If the group got too large it would split and the new group would expand into an adjacent territory. Expansion During 10,000 Generations A geometric expansion of a single 16 person gathering hunting band of hominids would take about 18 doublings to increase to about 5,000,000. In other words, if each band split when it got to about 32 people and each new band split in the same way it would take a hierarchy of 18 levels to get to about 5,000,000. In terms of time, 18 levels spread over 200,000 years would mean about 11,000 years for each doubling: a very slow rate to go from 16 to 5,000,000. Eve Recent research - disputed from many angles but still an interesting speculation - shows that we all may have genetic linkage with a single woman, given the symbolic name Eve, who lived about 200,000 years ago. She may have started the mutation that resulted in the accelerations that characterize modern humankind (Cann et al., 1987, p. 13).
There is no agreement as to just when humanlike animals appeared on the earth but it does seem that 2,500,000 years ago seems to me a reasonable estimate - that's when our brain started a 4-fold increase in size. There is fossil evidence of bipedalism that is 3,500,000 years old (Leakey & Lewin, 1978, p. 73). That is another useful fossill-based time frame. I judge the Primal Metaphor period to range from 2,500,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago. In terms of geological eras that include the end of the Quaternary period of the Cenozoic era; the Pleistocene, "most recent;" and extends to the Modern period which begins with agriculture (Newell, 1972).
The potential maximum population of the Earth by the end of the primal period was perhaps 30,000,000 based on acres of livable land. That figure presumes that all habitable places would have settlement. It was probably never higher than 5,000,000 and was the result of a slow expansion during the 2,500,000 year period. Now we are at about 6,000,000,000 people on the Earth. (Petersen, 1975, p. 374).
This 1200 to 1 ratio is depicted in Figure 2, next.
Not Many Bones There is not much evidence that exists from the actual bodies of
our ancestors to tell us much about them or their numbers. All of
the physical evidence we have of our very old ancestors would fit
in one large garbage can.
Each bone on a uniform distribution basis would represent about
15,000 years of evolution. But, of course, the bones are clustered
in time and space. Archeology and anthropology have the
appearance of being science but do have a large component of
subjective judgment and conjecture in any finding. Thus, my
speculations are as potentially apt as any. I now feel comfortable about
dealing in any specialist's "back yard" with the appropriateness of
the generalist's universal access. Does The Land Own Us?
Is it possible to really own the land? We are the transient -
land is "permanent." We die and the land stays where it is. How strange the
concept of land ownership. In shaping my own experience I have the
goal of feeling that I "own" wherever I am. Someone else may have
the recorded deed - as
required by the process of this culture - but while I am there
on it and using it I have a form of possession. In my
experience I have
felt ownership in any of the many office spaces I have used and in
the buildings where the offices were located. My sense of territory
goes with me: in cars and ships, too. An ancestoral gathering hunting band
does not exist - for me or others who are civilized - with
its shared square miles of un-ownable territory.
My sense of attachment to Navy buildings and to the Department of Commerce building
is very strong: I have had 2 careers, the Naval Reserve and in the Commerce Department.
My Navy buildings are scattered from OCS in Newport to Main Navy to the Navy Annex
to the Pentagon to Crystal City to the Washington Navy Yard to
Mare Island Naval Ship Yard . . . and many more. The time
frame was from 1961 to 1998.
I went to the Commerce building for most of the civilian
days I worked from April 1968 to January 2001. On some bad snow days and
when working on intense projects I have slept in my office. There
is stability and permanence not unlike the land in monumental
buildings like the Herbert Clark Hoover Department of Commerce
Building. Perhaps buildings have become our surrogate for the land
we wandered around.
Many of the buildings I have had an attachment to are no longer
existence. The elementary school I attended has been torn down
and a nursing home has been built in its stead. My junior and
senior high school buildings still stand but have been put to other
uses. The Lord Calvert theater where I attended about 300
Saturday matinees has long since been converted into a church.
The Columbia, the Pic, the Eureka, the New, and the Stanley are
all gone although the fantasies inspired by the movies I saw may
still enrich my right-brain. Carlin's Roller Rink is now replaced
with a shopping center. The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house at
Georgia Tech when I was a member has been gone for 20 years.
The house where my family lived when I was born in
Wisconsin was sold outside the family in 2001. The one where I
grew up in Baltimore is still family-owned.
So, too, is the 80 acres of Wisconsin farm land that was
homesteaded in 1868 The Rapid Acceleration of
Not Many Bones
There is not much evidence that exists from the actual bodies of our ancestors to tell us much about them or their numbers. All of the physical evidence we have of our very old ancestors would fit in one large garbage can.
Each bone on a uniform distribution basis would represent about 15,000 years of evolution. But, of course, the bones are clustered in time and space. Archeology and anthropology have the appearance of being science but do have a large component of subjective judgment and conjecture in any finding. Thus, my speculations are as potentially apt as any. I now feel comfortable about dealing in any specialist's "back yard" with the appropriateness of the generalist's universal access.
Does The Land Own Us?
Is it possible to really own the land? We are the transient - the land is "permanent." We die and the land stays where it is. How strange the concept of land ownership. In shaping my own experience I have the goal of feeling that I "own" wherever I am. Someone else may have the recorded deed - as required by the process of this culture - but while I am there walking on it and using it I have a form of possession. In my experience I have felt ownership in any of the many office spaces I have used and in the buildings where the offices were located. My sense of territory goes with me: in cars and ships, too. An ancestoral gathering hunting band does not exist - for me or others who are civilized - with its shared square miles of un-ownable territory.
My sense of attachment to Navy buildings and to the Department of Commerce building is very strong: I have had 2 careers, the Naval Reserve and in the Commerce Department.
My Navy buildings are scattered from OCS in Newport to Main Navy to the Navy Annex to the Pentagon to Crystal City to the Washington Navy Yard to Mare Island Naval Ship Yard . . . and many more. The time frame was from 1961 to 1998.
I went to the Commerce building for most of the civilian days I worked from April 1968 to January 2001. On some bad snow days and when working on intense projects I have slept in my office. There is stability and permanence not unlike the land in monumental buildings like the Herbert Clark Hoover Department of Commerce Building. Perhaps buildings have become our surrogate for the land we wandered around.
Many of the buildings I have had an attachment to are no longer in existence. The elementary school I attended has been torn down and a nursing home has been built in its stead. My junior and senior high school buildings still stand but have been put to other uses. The Lord Calvert theater where I attended about 300 Saturday matinees has long since been converted into a church. The Columbia, the Pic, the Eureka, the New, and the Stanley are all gone although the fantasies inspired by the movies I saw may still enrich my right-brain. Carlin's Roller Rink is now replaced with a shopping center. The Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house at Georgia Tech when I was a member has been gone for 20 years. The house where my family lived when I was born in Wisconsin was sold outside the family in 2001. The one where I grew up in Baltimore is still family-owned.
So, too, is the 80 acres of Wisconsin farm land that was homesteaded in 1868
The Rapid Acceleration of Humankind
|Years Ago||Era||People Alive|
|2,000||The Time of Christ||150,000,000|
|100||Turn Into the 20th Century||1,500,000,000|
Figure 3. Population Comparison
Western United States
I have lived in the Western United States in both California and Colorado. Each is rapidly filling with people and becoming more dependent on water and on petroleum. There will be massive problems in the future for leaders who try to deal with the equitable distribution of scarce resources. Primal man would only migrate to areas that could sustain and support the "band." I suspect that the Los Angeles basin would be uninhabitable by that standard.
Civilized man does not seem to consider natural resources a limitation. To me it is the same as saying, "the earth is flat." Only that presumption, the presumption of infinite horizon, would support the idea that we can continue to use resources at the rate we are now using them or that the refuse we create can be disposed of in a way that is not pollution intensive. We are using oil at a rate 100,000 times faster than nature creates it.
Compound Growth Rates
The symbolic African Eve speculation suggests that all of us alive today spring from a single common ancestor from about 200,000 years ago. The compound growth rate from 2 people to 5,000,000 people across 190,000 years would be 0.008 per cent per year. That would cover the period up to the beginning of agriculture and specialization. The compound growth rate over the last 10,000 years from 5,000,000 to 6,000,000,000 would be 0.07 per cent per year.
Taking an impressionist's view of human growth over the last 3,500,000 years, a horizontal line along the x axis would extend to the present where there would be a straight vertical line up. On the time, or horizontal axis, 10,000 years is only 1/350th of the total time covered in the primal period. On the vertical axis, or population, the present world population is about 1000 times greater than at the beginning of agriculture.
Figure 4 is a chart of the population growth of the world since then, about 10,000 years. I call it riding the tiger: we can - with comfort - neither stay on or get off. Either course is a form of disaster for our species. Part of our survival paradox is how to deal with what "is." It looks like world population might double to about 12,000,000,000 people in about 40 years - too many people on a planet made ever smaller with technology.
Does the curve look sustainable to you? Where might we humans be by the year 4000?
Figure 4. Human Population Growth Curve
United States Growth
The United States has had a recent slowdown in growth rate. For the last 5 years the rate has been less than 1 per cent each year. The figure for 1987 was 0.9 per cent. This is the slowest growth rate since the 1930's. On January 1, 1988 the estimated population of the United States was 245,000,000. The changes during 1987 were 3,772,000 births; 2,127,000 deaths; and 600,000 immigrants (U.S. population rises, 1988).
The Census USA Population Clock showed about 295,000,000 at the end of 2004.
6,400,000,000 was the World Clock number.
A time line of mankind's population would show an acceleration as it approaches the present. The rapidly rising line could as be interpreted as an indicator of the intensity of specialization versus generalization . . . or survival success, or tool usage, or the growth of technology intensity. From the viewpoint of a pathologist, the same curve for cell growth might indicate a cancer diagnosis.
Norwegian Rat Experiment
There is a fascinating experiment on Norwegian rats that might have implications for our species as well. A cage was constructed with 3 compartments. The central compartment was flanked by the other 2. Each end compartment had one door into the central compartment. After a few generations of normal population increase the rat colony became a study in crowding.
The center compartment had become a nightmare. It was cramped, crowded, and crime-ridden. The end compartments was serene. End spaces could be controlled by a single alpha rat, a dominant male. He would station himself at the door and deny entrance to any other mature competitor male.
A male rat born in the compartment could stay as long as he wanted. However, once in the middle compartment that would be his lifetime home. Females could come and go as they pleased.
The middle cage was characterized by eccentric behaviors of stress. The overcrowding seemed to generate cannibalism, murder, homosexuality, and general lawlessness. Groups of males would intrude on a new mother's nest and trample some of the babies to death while engaging in gang rape. This is very unusual behavior even for Norwegian rats (Ardrey, 1973, p. 127).
It is never possible to directly correlate animal behavior with our own but there is a message none-the-less. More of the human environment is becoming the center cage. The increment of change is slow enough that generations come and go with acceptance that their time was "normal." To how much can we accommodate?
For the leader there will be a continuing set of issues that focus on imperative problems . . . the anticipated and unanticipated consequences of population increase. That is the one overarching issue for the human species.
Mind of Humankind
The collective unconscious can be interpreted as part of the mind of humankind. Each person has an unconscious heritage that is a part of individual existence. The mechanism of the inheritance is not known, but it does seem to be there. It is possible that the locus of the collective unconscious is the right brain. Detailed content analysis is, of course, impossible since the analysis would be done by and for the conscious.
My sense is that the collective unconscious has a profound, continuing impact on modern man. The experiences of our ancestors are a part of us. The disconnection between millions of years of experience of primal humankind and the present species is an important part of how we define and deal with issues in our individual lives as well as among all the collective, pluralistic levels we deal with - in the modern expressions of community.
The unifying factor in many issues centers on all leaders as agents of change - with a sense of the public interest. Some problems are explicit only at the highest level of human community, the species itself, and others are highlighted a level or two down - to the global region or the nation. Perhaps the nation is where the thoughtful practitioner-scholar can best deal with problems that require lifetimes to unfold and lifetimes to correct. What is a digestible piece?
Over the years since my birth in 1936 there have been many increases in the groups that I have identified as big.
World population has gone from 2,000,000,000 to 6,400,000,000 by Year 2005.United States population has increased from 128,000,000 to 295,000,000. The State of Maryland has gone from 1,900,000 to more than 5,000,000. My college fraternity has grown from 44,000 nationwide members to more than 250,000. My personal presence becomes fractionally less and I am in some way diminished by this continuing growth in "people on the planet."
Figure 5 shows in graphic form what I perceive as diminishing my relative presence in the United States. My personal fraction of the total population is indexed at 100 in 1936, my birth year. Each year thereafter I have become less of a presence. By Year 2000 my presence was down to less than 50 per cent.
A similar calculation based on world population would show my Year 2005 index at less than 33 per cent.
Figure 5. Diminishment of a Depression Era American Citizento top
B. SPECIES DEFINITION
As a part of the biological classification of the animal kingdom we have a genus, species, and sub-species name.
Homo Sapiens Sapiens
Our genus is homo. Our species is sapiens. Our sub-species is sapiens. The tradition is to use Latin for the classification system for plants and animals designed by the Swedish botanist, Linnaeus. Thus, we are with the typical egocentric nature of humankind, self named as: "man, the wise, wise" (Barnouw, 1975, p. 17).
Homo Programmibilis Hyperigilis
I would suggest a different name, one that is more in keeping as a descriptor of our nature. We are homo programmibilis hyperigilis. We are man the programmable. Since the beginnings of agriculture we have been actively programmable. Since the industrial revolution we have been hyperactively programmable.
The two great watersheds of human history (excepting religious events) have been the agricultural revolution, which started in the Middle East's Fertile Crescent some 10,000 years ago, and the Industrial Revolution, which began in Holland and England about 200 years ago (Kahn, 1976, p. 20).
What decides our species now is not physiology but rather the content of the mind. With our species, evolution has taken on a new dimension and we have begun to control our own evolution. (Sagan, 1977).
We are becoming so plural that each one of us in the hyperigilis world becomes in essence our own sub-sub-species of the mind. We are hyper-specialized. Ask a civilized person what they are and the response is usually a professional or occupational title. That is what we are programmed to be in civilization.
While we are initially programmed by the culture through parents, siblings, television, peers, schools, churches, and psychiatrists we can become self-programmable if we understand that such an option is available.
Direct personal experience is a way of self-programming. Previous programming always supplies a filter to present experience but, over time, "the self" develops. Jung hypothesizes the self emerging from the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious (Jung, 1964).
Reading and reflection are a major mechanism for self-programming. Although reading is a vicarious experience, the sense of personal participation can be very real. Civilized man has been literate for only a few hundred years. The impact of "the book" is very new in the span of our development as a specie.
Computers are rapidly becoming surrogates for some kinds of mental activity. It is no longer necessary to add up columns and rows of numbers. A Personal Computer spreadsheet program can do it with mechanical precision every time.
Computers are also increasing productivity for those who transact abstractions through language. Organization and idea saving are easy to do with the help of a computer. Word processing programs help in the production of any document. Outline processors help in the generation and organization of ideas.
Data base programs help in the creation of large files of data. Analysis, abstraction, summarization, and dissemination can then be readily accomplished without much energy expenditure.to top
C. FROM GENERALIST TO SPECIALIST
Human culture is evolving from the simple and primitive to the specialized and complex (Smith, 1985).
The Hedgehog and the Fox
The hedgehog is characterized as having a single minded devotion to a cause, a monolithic purpose. The fox is pluralistic with many goals, many tasks. The analogy comes from an ancient Greek fable. It is a shorthand way to distinguish between the specialist, the hedgehog, and the generalist, the fox (Berlin, 1953). I see this fable as an early recognition of the right and left brain in a metaphoric content. The balanced leader should strive to be the fox rather than the hedgehog. It is better to be foxy than hedgehoggy.
What the anthropologist sees in the species may also be happening in public administration. There are many more job series now than in the recent past. Data processing has seen the creation of many new specialties over the quarter of a century of my career awareness. Even some of those specialists of 25 years ago are already obsolete. A good example is the key punch operator. Now the punch card is gone except for a few die-hard installations. As the mechanism became outdated so did the human who ran it. Yet the generalist continues on.
There is a sense of adventure and action in taking on a new job specialty. Perhaps humankind has become addicted to movement, excitement, and change.
Peter Graves presents 4 stages in a career. The trip also goes from specialist to generalist. The first stage, Apprenticeship, has close supervision of the beginner by a mentor. The next stage is Specialization with the independence of working alone using a particular skill. The third stage is Mentoring. The individual begins to mentor others and to work for the welfare of others. This stage also includes consulting on particularly difficult projects and becoming involved in administration. The final stage is the Influence phase when the future of the organization becomes an objective. There is wide interaction both inside and outside the organization. The individual goes from being a beginner as a specialized apprentice and develops into an influential generalist (Graves, 1977).
My own life has evolved into the influence phase. Advice on the life cycle of important institutional segments has become a part of my participation in the Department of Commerce, the Naval Reserve Engineering Duty community, Metropolitan Washington Mensa, the Commerce Federal Credit Union, and the Doctor of Public Administration Association. In each setting I am either the elected or selected leader. I also sit on boards of directors to shape institutions.
Time In A Profession
The acceleration of progress is shown by the lack of durability in occupations. In the present generation an electrical engineer who was graduated into his profession ten years ago may be very out-dated in today's workplace. Fifty years ago it seemed that an occupation or even an employer would be stable enough to last a lifetime. Even in Japan the idea of a lifetime of employment with the same institution is becoming less of a sure thing (Schon, 1971, p. 20).
HIGH PERFORMANCE PROGRAMMING
High performance programming is a concept that looks to the cultural characteristics of an institution with the purpose of diagnosis and transformation. Four levels have been hypothesized: reactive, responsive, proactive, and high performing. A set of characteristics have also been developed: time frame, focus, planning, change mode, management, structure, perspective, motivation, development, communications, and leadership. Table 1 shows a matrix of each type of organization and a telegraphic description of its particular characteristics (Nelson & Burns, 1984).
Table 1. High Performing Systems
|Communic-ations||Force Feed||Feedback||Feed Forward||Feed Through|
|(Nelson & Burns, 1984)|
I see the primal metaphor and wisdom systems as charting a mixed course through the high performing matrix.
My sense of wisdom systems in this context is mostly a combination of the responsive and high performing characteristics. The result is probably based on the difference between the left brain alignment of the civilized high performing system defined by Nelson and Burns and the ambi-brainedness implicit in considerations of wisdom systems. See Table 2. The primal characteristics underlined within the mosaic of the high performing systems typology are shown in Table 3.
Table 2. Primal Interpretation
|CHARACTERISTIC||PRIMAL DESCRIPTOR||ORGANIZATION TYPE|
Table 3. High Performing Systems and the Primal
|Commun-ications||Force Feed||FEEDBACK||Feed Forward||Feed Through|
|(Nelson & Burns, 1984)|
TYPES OF SPECIALTIES
The following descriptions are of some specialists that have emerged in our Western Civilization culture. Clearly the complexity of a culture must be comparatively high to make use of these various orientations. At the same time education often limits the perception of the environment, the recognition of a problem or opportunity, and the tools to solve the problem or take advantage of the opportunity. Kahn uses the term educated incapacity.
By "educated incapacity" we mean an acquired or learned inability to understand or see a problem, much less a solution. Increasingly, the more expert, or at least the more educated, a person is, the more likely he is to be affected by this (Kahn, 1976, p. 22).
The lawyer is trained in a specialty to represent one of two parties in an adversarial proceeding. There is a "winner" and a "loser." The alignment seems very left-brained in its binary, determinized underpinnings. Yet this is where many of the legislators, presidential appointees, and public administrators received their educational indoctrination, policy forming tools, and ethical underpinnings.
The engineer is trained in design, to solve problems with technology, and to use a safety factor. The engineer is a translator of science into practical usage.
The scientist looks to the basics of phenomena through the filter of a paradigm. Kuhn has described a paradigm as the currently accepted method of dealing with a scientific area. It can change only with great difficulty and only through the passage of significant time (Kuhn, 1970).
Members of the clergy deal with the spiritual unknown. This may be the closest profession to the right brain of the collective unconscious. The clergy is a specialist in the interpretation of "faith."
The executive is a manager of managers and provides a usually left-brained view of deadlines, projects, and profits. Often, among the most effective, there is a right-brained component of vision.
The manager gets useful work done through others. Usually the manager does very little direct work but uses delegation and assignment to actualize ideas.
The farmer may come the closest to being in the "generalist" category. He must be able to read the seasons and know the nature of the cycle of plants and animals for harvesting.
The accountant uses double entry bookkeeping to assure that accounts are accurate and balanced to the penny.
The economist measures in dollars as a fungible good. The distribution of resources in "rational" ways is a central concept.
The politician mediates values and provides a representation function when elected by citizens. The presence of values creates an indication of a more right brained alignment.
The carpenter uses a craft as a means to build shelter and other structures. Knowledge of properties of materials, their measurement, changing shape, and attachment are important. The overall design is usually expressed by another, the architect. The fundamental medium is wood, a building material with which we have the strongest species attachment.
Where do the generalists come from? Graves career pattern presumes a specialty and the resulting value set that comes with an indoctrination into a profession, a craft, a skill, or an industry. Can a specialist learn enough to provide generalist tribal leadership or does the true honing of specialist skills usurp that characteristic?
It is possible at any given time that there may be a person who combines knowledge and skill in such a variety of activities that he may be more influential than anyone else in the band. . . . a man having the characteristics of a good leader simply becomes more and more respected until he seems to be the leader. . . . He must be a respected person, one whose advice is sought and heeded, rather than one who commands (Service, 1966, p. 52).to top
D. UNNATURAL ACTS
Evolution builds on what was there before. The human brain has evolved from within and kept each previous function. We still have a triune brain with a reptilian center. Thus, there are many behaviors that we do today that are out of keeping with our recent evolution. We have had about 500 times as long to evolve as gatherer- hunters (3,500,000 years) than we have since the beginning of agriculture (7,000 years). I call civilized acts that we take for granted, but which I think are counter to our much longer evolution, "unnatural." Public administration is impacted by both the natural and unnatural acts.
That would help account for the 1000 fold increase in humankind from about 5,000,000 at the beginning of agriculture 10,000,000 years ago to the 5,000,000,000 of this century. That increase in specialty has allowed us to convert most other mammal biomass to our use or into us. Figure 2, seen before, graphically shows the 1000 to 1 ratio. It is our specialties that have allowed the growth. How do we deal with growth now?
Reading requires a long concentration of looking at the same place with a fixed focus. This is not something that would be natural to us in our development. Glasses at 40 are an indication. Nearly everyone needs them. Nature is saying, at 40, "You are getting too old for the near focus of handcraft work that translates into detail. Rather you should be looking actually to the horizon, to see the future and the long trends. That is how you can best contribute to the tribe. You are rare to have survived so long. Let's take advantage of the wisdom such advanced age has developed."
So, too, is writing unnatural. We have gestured and grunted intelligently for 200,000 generations. Writing is only a few hundred generations old for the special few and only a few generations old for the many. To write is to slow down the mind, to lose spontaneity, and to sacrifice person to person real-time interaction.
The writer's problem is the inverse of the reformed drunkard's. The latter must never touch a drop; the former must always do his stint. Skip but one writing period and you need the strength of Samson to get started again (Barzun & Graff, 1957, p. 350).
Thus, the unnatural act of writing requires large infusions of energy and the ability to sustain compulsion.
Margaret Mead and other anthropologists have concluded that primitive humans worked as we know it for about 2 hours per day. In the modern world where gatherer/hunters and agriculturalists still exist side by side, in times of drought and hunger the agriculturalists will come to the gatherer/hunters for assistance. When times are tough the gatherer/hunter needs only work a little harder for survival.
A Definable Job
A definable job is a prime characteristic of civilization. The job description is the defining document that defines where a person "belongs." Specialization makes each person a "fit" for a particular set of tasks. They are performed with the greatest productivity by someone who has had the time to learn the right skills. In a gathering hunting band, each member would be general purpose - able to do well in all the skills needed for survival. Each
Specific Work Place
With a definable job goes a specific work place. In civilization the specialist often works with special tools and with other specialized colleagues in a specific work place. Specialization implies a series of workers whose combined effort produces a "product" which is valued by a market.
Specific Work Time
With specialized people and a work place goes a specific work time. To get it all together, the people working on a specialized project need to be in the same place at the same time. Then they can do what they need to for production of the "product."
With the factors of specialization comes interchangeableness. One specialist with the same training is as good as another. In the tribe each person would have been valued as such. There would have been a uniqueness based on the individual. The function in the tribe would have been a relatively unimportant factor since generalists could get by in an emergency.
Planning for the primal person was short-range with emphasis on the immediate task. Some storage for the winter was necessary for survival food. But generally the future was left more to nature than to human attempts to control it.
It is not natural to do "your" work through others. Any primal leader would have maintained a strong ability to perform all the tasks of being human. A leader or any participant in the gather or the hunt might be called upon at any time to demonstrate a mastery of any of the skills that were generically possessed.
Working in large organizations is "unnatural." A tribe of 512 people would be a self-sufficient unit for the success of its component bands in both the individual survival and in the biologic species sense.
Emphasis on Image
The primal environment forced a test of performance on anyone who would survive. If your group was able to perform, it was able to survive. Since it had only itself to satisfy, there was no one else upon whom an embellished image of performance would create a goal enhancing impression.
All around me in the bureaucracy I see image rather than performance being rewarded. Part of this syndrome is explained by the inability of some evaluators to judge performance. Often image is an integral part of performance. Boorstin's book about the American ways of producing and living off of image characterizes the superficiality of "the celebrity" and the "pseudo-event" (Boorstin, 1961).
City of Image
Washington is a "City of Image." It seems to be full of people whose essential aim is to create an image of performance. In my federal career I have seen Congress in action trying to create an impression on potential voters. I have seen the executive branch try to create an image for clients. I have seen associations trying to create an image for their members. Whatever genuine performance there actually is gets multiplied and distorted by the many who wish to claim credit.
"Perfection" Machine Like
Primal man used pragmatic tools. The artifacts left for most of our prehistory have mostly been stone tools. They were usually made with as little effort as possible. It looks like they were made to simply "get the job done" and then get on with life. It also appears that many tools were made quickly and then discarded after one or a few uses.
"Fitting in" with the primal group was a matter of being born in. There was little need to adapt to new people. You would know all of your cohorts from cradle to grave. There would be some input into the group usually when a woman from an adjoining band became the mate of a man in your group. She would then join the group. There would be very little contact with "perfect strangers." Most individuals would have an awareness of the individual members of contiguous groups.
For me I have been "fitting in" to new groups with regularity. For example, in my acknowledgements, there are about 50 groups mentioned. Over a half century span, I have "fit in" to a new group about every year.
What is the impact on modern man of this kind of group "musical chairs"?
CONSEQUENCES OF UNNATURAL ACTS
What are the consequences of unnatural acts for the person, society, and the species?
Immoderate Human Descriptors
There are three concepts which seem to me to sum up the nature of civilization.
Possession is a major stop on the road to left-brain dominance. To possess is to make something an object for evaluation, ownership, and trade. To hire someone for their specialty is to possess a part of their time on a routine and regular basis as an objectivization of the person.
Exaggeration is necessary to develop specialized skills. The characteristic to be exploited must be identified so it can be channeled through the right institutions for selective exaggeration. Explicitly, an unexaggerated skill will atrophy through disuse.
The use of the imperative can make the process of civilization seem that its tasks must be done. It can develop from the linear obsession of the hunt which is so necessary for catching a lively prey. You must do this to be a good boy, to be a productive worker, to be a breadwinner, to be a fine father, and to be a happy husband.
Perhaps only life or death is the true imperative. Any other danger or emergency is only a simulation. How important is it to have a series of project deadlines when the only outcome for missing the deadline is a rescheduling? Does the left-brain try to simulate emergency as a means to control?
Right to Ignorance
There are many levels of knowledge. The specialist by definition specializes in a truncated portion but goes into that portion deeply. The generalist seeks out a little knowledge in most areas. The generalist has a more survivable perspective. The specialist claims the right to ignorance in all but his own specialty. The generalist claims a right to a different sort of ignorance, an ignorance of cloying detail but a sense of wisdom about the ambience of the issue.
Individual consciousness is achieved by strategic ignorance and suppression. Man's right to his own ignorance might be said to be his principal means of private identity. One of the techniques of the poet and the artist, it has been pointed out, is to contrive situations that will dislocate the mind into awareness. The unconscious could be called the "scrubbing" of the present, just as printing and other technologies are means for retrieving the past (McLuhan & Matson, 1970, p. 63).
. . . the archetype is extremely cohesive; other archetypes' residues adhere to it. When we consciously set out to retrieve one archetype, we unconsciously retrieve others; and this retrieval recurs in infinite regress. In fact, whenever we "quote" one consciousness, we also "quote" the archetypes we exclude; and this quotation of excluded archetypes has been called by Freud, Jung, and others "the archetypal unconscious." Examples of retrieval systems occur in the Phoenician alphabet, dictionaries, indexes, computers, tables of engineering standards, etc. What these forms retrieve are archetypes or old processes.
It has been observed that civilization has to be recollected by every citizen. Education, whatever guise it takes, is retrieval of that archetype. A dream is a "quoted" experience, that is, it is archetypal-- a dream purge rather than a conscious probe (McLuhan & Wilson, 1970).
Theodore Roszak sees the information obsession as cluttering the thinking process. The "data glut" crowds out ideas and distracts with sterile, disconnected facts. Information is not the panacea. The mind is far more than an information-processor. Many great ideas have been founded on intuition and insight. In fact, information should have a distinct subordinate place to wisdom. Human intelligence is marked by complexity and subtle but significant distinctions. The information economy is but another stage in the continuing evolution of mankind (Roszak, 1986).
The data glut is really a left-brain data surplus. Part of the over-supply is failure to use right-brain data processing functions. The generalized right-brain can say "You have enough of this objective data. Let's stop gathering and use what we have with some intuition: which I will add." Using the right brain can help prevent obsession with detail. The avalanche may be much less than it seems. The specialized manager can become paralyzed with too much data. The generalist leader will move on before being overwhelmed.
Self-help or Self-hinder?
A source of personal introspection during a mid-life crisis is the self-help book. Generally these books help the seeker get back to the culture. Self-help books often take a particular characteristic and describe ways to emphasize and specialize it. In this society that specialization is usually toward the competitive, left- side of the brain. An example is a recent book on talking your way to power. It describes ways to make your speech patterns more authoritative, dominant, and "successful." In most of the anecdotes in the book, the difference highlighted is the "wimpyness" of the right-brain with the "effectiveness" of the left.
Labor or Job Mobility?
While the mobility of labor is often mentioned as a factor in economic judgment, the world now seems to be following a course of job mobility. We are exporting jobs to other countries in many of our industries. We are losing micro-chip production and many other high-tech industries are using overseas labor resources. Perhaps we are de-skilling the United States.
The textile and apparel industry refers to the process of de-skilling when it down grades the level of human skill and judgment needed in an operation. De-skilling is a further shift along the spectrum from generalization to specialization.
As a civilization we pay for connoisseur performance by our specialists. The pay is both economic and psychic. The rewards for connoisseur performance, a well-honed specialization, can be large. In the case of monopoly connoisseurs, a unique individual imaged personality is part of the performance. Examples would be John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, and Elvis Presley. We expect our specialists to perform well in their specialties, and we do not care what else they do at all. By default any or all other characteristics could atrophy through lack of use. All human characteristics are prone to this connoisseur treatment. Is there a 7 foot tall person in the United States who has not "taken a shot" at playing basketball?to top
E. NATURAL ACTS
Just as there are acts that I consider "unnatural" for civilized man considering the inertia of his primal heritage, so too are there acts that are "natural" to that heritage.
Leadership of Small Groups
The leadership of a small group of 32 to 64 is a natural act. This is the fundamental human group. It is the band that gathered, hunted, made tools, lived, and reproduced itself. About 8 of these groups were connected into a tribal alliance. This tribe of about 512 was rarely together, but would meet for ceremonial purposes perhaps once a year. The bands would come into casual contact at random intervals. The leader of the group was the "leader of last resort" not one of large hierarchy lost in the bottom of an organization chart. The self-supporting small group is the natural site of human activity.
Each member of the group was one-of-a-kind. The individual brought a personal uniqueness to the collective. The member was born into and would die out of the group. There was no recruiting for a fungible specialist where one was as good as another.
Communication was done with talk and with gesture, in person. It was done in real time with the ability to respond and react during the communication with body language as an integral part of the process. Delivery would be dialogue and not the out of time phase monologue of the writing and reading duality with its insulation from all but abstracted contact.
Authenticity is natural. It would be difficult to be unauthentic with a band where sharing and mutual survival were ingrained. Without much property to provide a spurious measure of individual difference, there would be little reason to try to create images of performance that were inaccurate.
It is natural for each person in the tribe to have the general skill to perform any of the tasks necessary to support the band. In an emergency any member of the band could do the fundamentals.
The activity underway in any band would be about the same as any other. There would have been a universality around the world among our species in the pre-agricultural world.
Reaction to Nature
Man is a part of nature. The interaction is close and clear. We cannot tame or domesticate natural forces. We are linked into and responsive to nature. Modern civilization seems to act as if nature were a separate, minor part of our environment. I see this as a major source of public administration issues for as long as we are so decidedly left-brained.
It is natural to be self-sufficient and make your own way. It is part of us to provide for our own and our small band's needs. The use of specialists to be our surrogates in many of our actions is a weakening part of civilization.
Emphasis on results
No amount of passing the buck would save the hunting band if food was not found. Species continuance depended on results. Finding the food and bringing some of it back to the tribe could not be delegated to some other entity. If the gathering and the hunt were not successful for too long, the hunting band died.
Survival in Balance
When we lived in the primal era, much of what we did was life or death oriented. If we were not successful in gathering or in hunting for an extended time, we would die. If we could not find or fashion clothing and shelter, we would die. If we could not defend ourselves, we would become prey. But this survival was not done on an individual basis, rather it was part of a small group effort in the hunting band.
CONSEQUENCES OF NATURAL ACTS
Real Wisdom Is Continuity Of The Species
"Wisdom Systems" are balanced interactions of left- and right-brained human functions with a network of other humans with non-destructive machine augmentation. We are getting close to the point where our artificial intelligence pursuits may become damaging to our specie's ability to continue.
The Survivor Personality
The "Survivor Personality" is a re-interpretation of Maslow which places synergy at the peak of the hierarchy. Among survivors there is a bi-polarized balance, a flexibility that comes from "successful schizophrenia."
Most survivors are strong-willed and easygoing, gentle and strong, serious and humorous, calm and emotional, involved and detached, impulsive and thorough, stable and unpredictable, trusting and cautious, childlike and mature, sensible and irrational, individualistic and conforming, shy and bold, optimistic and pessimistic, self-confident and self-critical, and finally, lazy as well as hard-working. (Pobanz, 1987)
SPECTROGRAPH OF CHARACTERISTICS
Figure 6 shows a comparative representation of a set of hypothetical human brain characteristics for both a primal and a civilized human.
The technique used is one common to analytic chemistry and astronomy. Each element has a characteristic emission line in the spectrum. A chemist can determine the elements in a sample just as an astronomer can detect the composition of a star by viewing the lines in a spectrograph. Isaac Newton was an early experimenter with the spectroscope (Reid, 1965, p. 10).
By analogy I am using the concept of the spectrograph to distinguish among characteristics of brainedness. There may even be a closer parallel in the characteristics strung along in the double helix of DNA. My simplified metaphor looks at particular functions of specialization as if they were accommodated to a linear left to right typology.
The primal human would have a balance of abilities across the spectrum but all would be of moderate magnitude. The spectrum would have been the result of consistent usage during millions of years of evolution and niche building. Those turns of mind that were needed for survival would have been those that themselves survived within the human brain. The vertical lines in the spectrograph depict this balanced, full-, ambi-brained primal person's characteristics result in a rectangle, that is, approximately equal in length across the spectrum from left to right.
The civilized human would have a spectrum of the same range and potential composition of evolved skills but with the development of particular single characteristics given long and conscious attention. In Western Civilization, the right-brain functions would be slight in magnitude through disuse. A few left-brain functions would be very high in magnitude. Which functions were emphasized would depend on the specialty involved. Most functions would be atrophied. The general shape would be a wedge sloping to the right but with a very high spike at the primary specialty.
This was fun to draw by hand and then scan in. I like not having everything so mechanical.
Figure 6. Human Brain Characteristics Spectrograph
Consider Maslow's famous hierarchy from a primal metaphor and wisdom systems perspective. I see most of our evolution as occurring in a self-actualized state. Physiological needs were met with a 2 to 3 hour workday most of the time. The preparation of a shelter took only a few minutes. Clothes were not a problem either. Safety, belongingness, and esteem were provided by the lifetime association with a group and a tribal-clan into which you were born. The level of self-actualization was probably the normal state and not the rare condition reported by Maslow in his civilized research. The ultimate level of Theory Z, transcendent self-actualization, was also a regular condition: perhaps mostly among the elderly wise.
Theory Z implies the kind of actualization implicit with the generic charisma of religious leaders with the whole of the human race as focus. Considering the cognition of the primal human of what could be defined as the whole of the race, Theory Z would have been more achievable if the whole human race was perceived as a few thousand. Without much travel, even the most aware could only have known the few hundreds of "cousin" neighbors within a reasonable strolling radius.
In terms of wisdom system information input, the lower level seems left-brain data oriented and the highest right-brained more information oriented. If the primal evolving hominid used the ambi-brained skills, as I suspect, then, wisdom was a natural consequence. It would have been easier to achieve the higher levels in an environment only barely touched by humankind. How does a leader return to basics, become more self- actualizing, and find wisdom?
Table 4. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
6 Transcendent Self-Actualization
1 Physical Needs
Dimensions Of Self-Actualization
Maslow used 15 dimensions to more fully describe the self-actualized person (1956). Those dimensions are shown in Table 5. I feel a strong kinship with the ideas that Maslow expressed.
Table 5. Maslow's Characteristics of Self-Actualization
Acceptance of Self, Others, and the Natural World
Task Orientation and Not Self-Preoccupied
Sense of Privacy
Spirituality Not Necessarily Religious
Sense of Identity with Mankind
Feelings of Intimacy with a Few
Recognizes Means and Ends Differences
Philosophic Humor Rather Than Hostile
Each dimension is discussed below from my speculative viewpoint of the primal metaphor with some relationship to the potential for leadership.
The primal human would have a realistic orientation because of the lack of options for anything else. The generalness of skills would have made the unrealistic partial perspective of the specialist improbable. The leader could strive for the simple and the basic in any task. Stay away from the ornamental and the image building. See the generic whole implicit in any specialized task.
The nature of the tribe would have made acceptance of self, others, and the natural world a constant with only a few exceptions. There would have been no need to soul-search about acceptance. Shyness and uncertainty would have applied only to the very young, and once shed would have had little reason to return. There would have been little recruiting and career conditional trial periods. The responsible leader can try to generate an organizational environment that is open and accepting.
Being non-authentic, withdrawn, and non-spontaneous is a disease of civilization. Newly discovered stone age tribes are often shy upon meeting the new people but when the shyness is gone there is often a refreshing spontaneity of action. The caring leader can use techniques that are not rigid in dealing with people, ideas, and opportunities. Whim and lack of structure may bring out some right-brained views and solutions.
The way the tribe worked with women and children gathering and with men hunting, often in the 10-group, it would have been difficult to become self-preoccupied. Community task orientation would have been practically instinctive. The whole leader can de-emphasize some of the workplace factors that stimulate competition and find ways to make doing the job more fun than image-building.
Sense of Privacy
A sense of privacy would have been harder to come by. Since the tribe would often be very close for safety for its overnight camp and together much of the day, it would be hard to simulate the individual, insulated, and compartmentalized privacy that has become nearly mandatory in civilization.
Independence would have been the province of the tribe itself although lack of compulsion of individual members may well have been a condition of full tribal membership after initiation. Perhaps the aware leader uses knowledge of the dichotomies implicit in concepts like privacy, independence, and freedom as a way to get others to be more aware also.
A wide and accurate knowledge of the environment would assure a vivid appreciation of all of nature. With death so common among the young and not unknown among the middle-aged adults, I suspect primal persons had mind sets very much aware of the environment and the luck of being alive.
Spirituality would have been implicit in myths and superstitions. This is one of the right-brain functions that would have been active during most of humankind's evolution.
Sense of Identity with Humankind
It would have been easy to identify with all of known humankind. There would have been no mind-boggling knowledge of many continents teeming with people or of other races, nations, and religions.
Feelings of Intimacy
Only a few cohorts, kin, and friends would be available for intimate relationships. A reality-based leader could look at the work place not just as a professional locale to find colleagues but as a place where friendships can be formed as well.
The smooth functioning of the tribe with the cooperation needed to gather and to hunt successfully would have provided for democratic characteristics. The division of meat from the hunt would also have been a factor.
Recognizes Means and Ends
There would have been little reason to agonize over means and ends questions. The band would have done most things in the same way for very long periods of time. There would have been few means all toward the same end, survival. The full-spectrum leader could be more aware of the fundamental ends explicit in any professional action and recognize the ethical questions which may arise.
Philosophic humor would have been more appropriate than the hostile variety. Hostility would have had little place in a small group that depended on cooperation for survival. Hostility gone awry could have doomed the tribe. Humor is a very powerful tool in public administration practice. It can sooth, coopt, and bring out the right brain.
Creativeness would have been present everytime a new situation arrived in the environment that required our evolving brain's kind of pluralism to intervene.
Nonconformism is more a civilized concept that would have had little parallel in the primal world.
Nonconformism in the civilized sense usually applies to someone who is not conforming to the left-brain dominated dictates of modern society. The maverick leader can do things purposely outside the rules and regulations that bureaucracies live by.
It appears to me that primal man is the prototype of what Maslow and others have identified as balanced or fully functioning humans. There would have been no need for therapy to assist in adapting to a rapidly evolving culture and no debate over whether adaptation or transcendence was the higher form of dealing with a particular culture.
There are many names that have been used to describe what I see as the same characteristics in our evolving ancestors. I see the fundamentals of what I have thought echoed in the writings of a number of psychologists. Each, of course, has used words that reflect a personal style of expression. Table 6 shows a selection of authorities, some discussed in Maddi, and the term each authority uses for what I think of as appropriate-brainedness or primal balance (Maddi, 1976).
Table 6. Surrogates for Primal Balance
Reality principle functioning
Fulfill human nature
Beautiful and noble people
Abraham H. Maslow
M. R. McMillan
Personality growth facilitator
Fully functioning person
(After Maddi, 1976)
Perhaps the wider-thinking person has the ability to accept the other persons view with greater ease. The concept of dichotomy becomes blurred. What the other person does is considered within the range of acceptable human behavior. In a complex world this creates many options for the creative leader's solution space.
. . . it seems possible that most or perhaps even all value dichotomies or polarities tend to disappear or resolve in self-actualizing people. These people are neither selfish nor unselfish in the ordinary sense; they are both (or neither).
They are neither rationalists nor intuitionalists; neither classical nor romantic, neither self-interested nor other-interested, neither introverts nor extroverts, etc. Rather they are both. Or to be accurate, in them these dichotomies do not apply (Maslow, 1956, p. 191).
Maslow had identified the full-brained as the most successful humans in the culture long before the left/right brain research had made an impact. The higher on the level of the hierarchy the less specificity there is to its dimensionality. The lower levels tend toward left-brained, specialized functions and the top levels tend toward the mosaic, right-brained, generalized characteristics. Eating food to satisfy the level 1 need of physiology is very specific. It takes a real leap of right-brained faith to even suggest satisfaction at the level 6 of transcendent self-actualization.
Abraham Maslow theorized two degrees of self-actualization, regular and transcendent. The transcendent he termed Theory Z. In effect, it puts another layer on top of the hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1970). [Maslow's Theory Z should not be confused with Ouchi's Theory Z which relates to Japanese management (Ouchi, 1981).] This transcendent layer looks to the welfare and benefit of the entire human species. It is the kind of fulfillment implicit in the lives of Gandhi and Christ. For me, the transcendent self-actualizer is working from a right brain perspective and from the viewpoint of a true generalist. Perhaps fully functioning leaders would have these characteristics. How does anyone get to self-actualized transcendence?
Self-awareness seems the only way to assure an ambi-brained balance. Yet that self-awareness usually brings the individual into conflict with society's standards with the other facets of talent. The result is the balance perhaps best achieved through the device of becoming a multi-specialist.
Margaret Mead distinguishes among three types of cultures: postfigurative is when children learn from the older generation, cofigurative is when children and adults learn from peers, and prefigurative is when adults also learn from their children (Mead, 1970, p. 1). Postfigurative culture has been the overwhelming predominance of humankind's evolution. In the bureaucracy there is still a strong feeling for seniority as a measure of worth and usefulness. My own sense is that polyfigurative culture, in which everyone learned from everyone else, would be a more survivable way to deal with technologically explosive times like ours. In my experience there has been a continuing problem with young untried and inexperienced federal executives attempting to lead the tempered and experienced with unhappiness on both sides. Every experienced senior federal employee knows examples from personal job relationships.
There is another theoretical culture to complete the typology. A nonfigurative culture would be one where no one learns from anyone else.
Generalist Leaders Rarely Surface
The true natural leader may be the one who is effective with groups of 16 to 64. The leader would be a generalist who also has the ability to lead by virtue of the balance of characteristics. In today's culture that leader may never surface. Leadership career paths now favor long seasoning periods as specialists before becoming the leader of an institution of any size. The very real likelihood is that the present day leader will not have the generalist balance to provide leadership to the unnatural hyper-tribe.
The concept of the "expert system" has high visibility in current information processing. It represents a left-brained approach, the conversion of a human expert's abilities into a computer program that can produce nearly the same result as a human consultation.
On the other hand, "connectivity" is the right-brained concept being promoted in current information processing. It allows for easier connection among computer users. It may provide for the inter-connection of surrogate tribe members.
The android population to come will have a peculiar advantage over us humans. We exchange data when we talk, directly or on the phone, at a rate of only a few hundred bits per second. Even this low rate is of great value to us. Robots should be able to "talk" at data rates of megabits or even gigabits per second over large distances. They will not be intellectually our equals, but hugely our superiors.
. . . by 2040 I think these machines will be in such large scale use that their intellectual gross product will exceed that of humans by a factor of 100 (Sinclair, 1987, p. 19).
The brain is 100,000 times more complex at the moment but loses a factor of 10 about every five years. We are about 25 years away from an electronic or optical brain about as complex as the human brain but perhaps much faster (Sinclair, 1987 p.19). That may mean that wisdom systems options are taken away from the human being. Expert systems may overtake specialties one after the other rendering the human specialist unneeded. It may take longer for the more general of the specialties such as some types of public administration. That is one of the reasons I have become personally knowledgeable in artificial intelligence and in expert systems.
Primal tribal members did not have the option of leaving the tribe and its affairs. The best brains stayed with the group and contributed to its common problems for a lifetime. The goal in modern Western civilization seems to center on the ability to "make it." That usually means gathering enough money to allow living a life of non- contribution, to retire from the day-to-day participation in the culture.
An individual who selects public administration service takes a community service option which excludes the possibility of amassing large amounts of civilized left-brained wealth. Exercising the community option in an environment that sees personal competition and winning as building a material fortune is a right-brained act. Can the community continue if it discourages community- oriented actions? A career in the service of the public should have a positive psychic income. I have a stronger sense of that service now than at many times in the past. The selective-brainedness principle has helped me make adjustments in assessments of my own contribution.
With expert systems and the potential for displacement, it may be that having something to do called a job may become highly prized and available only to the truly general and balanced-brained.
The manager who maintains a strong specialty is opting out of full human participation in the natural working order of the species.
The next chapter looks at some of the group, community, right-brained, and species continuance aspects of wisdom systems.
Mensa has been an important part of my recent life. Being in Mensa has given me a surrogate tribe where at least a part of the primal metaphor can have a modern setting. The very active members in the Washington Area number about 64, a large hunting band. Those who go to 1 meeting a year amount to about 512 or a tribe. There is a strong spirit of connection among the very active members that borders on being related by more than the randomness of modern life.
TRUTH TO POWER
An interesting concept that relates, indirectly, to specialist versus generalist is the spectrum from truth to power. Don Price wrote an article about the differences between the truth seeker at one end of the spectrum and the power seeker at the other. The truth seeker is the scientist, specialist. The power seeker is the politician, generalist. I have envisioned the dichotomy as two parallel axis: one for truth and the other for power. Figure 7 shows the concept with engineers and administrators representing intermediate specialties between the scientist and the politician (Price, 1981).
Wisdom systems for the individual would indicate that the middle territory is where a balanced person would find the most fulfillment. The truth intensive axis points to a left-brain dominance. The power intensive axis emphasizes a right orientation. The primal metaphor shows that evolving mankind would not have been at the extremes of the spectrum until well into civilization.
The administrator is within the balanced middle ground with both a regard for the truth as well as maintaining some of the mediation of values characteristics of the power seeker.
Figure 7. The Spectrum from Truth to Power
The Primal Career
During the hunter-gatherer era there would have only been the choice of "generalist." Survival would have been the primary goal, Maslow's foundation stage in the hierarchy of needs.
A macro-historian (sometimes called a universal historian) is one who seeks to understand and explain all of human history. St. Augustine, Karl Marx, Oswald Spengler, and Arnold J. Toynbee are among the best known. Many academic historians have a low opinion of such efforts and most of their technical and professional criticisms have validity. However, the academics offer no alternative solutions to the important issues tackled by macro-historians. Indeed, some academics deny that the issues are relevant and say that useful discussion is impossible (Kahn, 1972, p. 8).
I recognize some characteristics of the macro- historian in my interests and outlook.
Sagan identifies polymaths as gifted multidisciplined individuals whose early life was categorized by little or no pressure to conform. He uses some of the remarkable British polymaths as examples: Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, and Jacob Bronowski. Social conformity is a high priority in countries with homogeneous cultures like China, Russia, and Japan. It is less so though still stringent in the United States (Sagan, 1977, p. 192).
Spectrograph Of Groups
The idea of the spectrograph applied to human characteristics of the brain was introduced in the last chapter. In the present setting we consider the nature of cumulative spectrographs of individuals working in groups.
It may be that the human group spectrograph is more accurate a measure of human potential than the atomistic view of a human as an individual entity.
The Composite of Civilization
How did a gathering hunting tribal-clan compare to the composite of civilization, the current hyper-tribal-clan? Think of a wide but not very tall filled-in rectangle for the total skills of a primal tribal-clan. The box represents a composite of all its members. Since each would be a generalist with many of the same skills the composite for the tribe would be about the same as any one of its generalist members. Because of isolation, the sum of all characteristics would be about the same as any other cousin tribal-clan. The spectrum of characteristics would be balanced using both left- and right-brain hemispheres - plus all the other characteristics and skills that humans have. That would include strength, agility, flexibility, endurance, tenacity, optimism, creativity.
Civilization would offer a different box. The left-brained specialties when accumulated across all of communicating humankind would provide for much higher magnitudes in that portion of the spectrum. In contrast the right brained spectrum would only have a few tiny spikes. I speculate that the civilized box - really a spectrograph - would have a left-brained magnitude about 1000 times more than the primal one. That is because the trained left-brainer can do a great deal with true obsessive skill building - to the atrophy of other skills. Those other skills are the one that create a generalist survivor.
The civilized "box" would be very high at the left and only about as high as the primal one on the right. Other physical and emotional skills would only be a little higher for the civilized. There is only so much that can be done with coaching - even for an obsessed specialist. Our DNA is still the dominant force in the civilized body: including the brain. Only conscious brain content - probably what we call left-brained - really has much chance to be changed by indoctrination.
SURROGATE TRIBES - VIRTUAL TRIBES
There was only one primary tribe for each individual in the primal period. You belonged to your tribe and the tribe belonged to you. In fact you might not have considered other tribes as being composed of humans at all. In the civilized era we have membership in many surrogate tribes. They can have some of the characteristics of tribes but not the exclusivity. Those, the very tribes to which we can belong have themselves become examples of specialization. Classification then becomes important when considering these specialized surrogate tribes.
FITNESS TO ADMINISTER
At every level in public administration, the specialist is needed to perform within the needs of the organization to fulfill a mission. But at the same time the individual has a stake in becoming more generic than the immediate specialized role requires. A part of any specialized executive's agenda should be movement toward the selective-brained wisdom systems approach that aims toward real leadership, not just management of factors of production. The human species is far more complex than that.
The Presidency of the United States may be one of the best examples. If a candidate can position himself to be a viable candidate for President, does the process of successful specialized positioning demonstrate unfitness for the general office?
Click for the
wisdom systems paradigm viewpoint.
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