WAPO: “Rain Forces Open to Shut Down Early”

This is a headline on the front page of a section of today’s Washington Post. Can you guess which section?

Reading this I thought of Paul Pangaro’s wonderfully insightful “Notes on the Role of Leadership and Language  in Regenerating Organizations,” what Paul calls his “Little Grey Book.”

Paul says that every organization creates its own language. This language facilitates common understanding within the organization, but it also creates barriers inhibiting understanding of the world outside, as well as understanding by the world outside.

Needless to say, the future is outside the organization. If your organization can’t “see” (understand) the road to the future, “you can’t get there from here.” Does General Motors ring a bell?

And the larger the organization, the less opportunity each individual has to interact with anyone outside the organization. Imagine marbles on a saucer vs marbles on a platter: what percent of the marbles touch the edge? And government has some of the biggest platters in the business!

When I worked in the Pentagon, we used to joke that the reason we used so many acronyms in conversation was that without them the workday would have been ten hours long, not eight. (Actually we said ten days not twelve; that’s another Pentagon joke: working a half-day meant only twelve hours!)

This insight of Pangaro’s is only one of a great many; you (or I!) could profitably spend many hours reading his work at www.pangaro.com. We met around the meetings of the American Society for Cybernetics. At the annual conferences, one asked each friend, “What has become obvious to you since last we met?”

Paul Pangaro always had the best answers. He still does.

(BTW, the headline was from the sports section. “Open” is a golf tournament.)

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