Of McKinsey & druidic sacrifice

February 10, 2013

The morning after a good day of conversation, a Welsh victory at Rugby and an evening meal with friends in the pub produced a certain sense of fullness this morning in several sense of the word.  It was soon blown out of me however by a windswept, rainswept marrowbone chilling walk around Avebury Stone Circle with Friso and Dave who had never seen it before.   I’ve lost count of the number of people I have taken on this walk over the years, or for that matter the number of shoes ruined by chalk marl in winter.  I do warn people by the way, so its at their own risk.  The ground was so sodden today that much of the embankment that surrounds the stone circle was closed so we had to do through multiple diversions to complete.  The Church was open, but for a service, so no opportunity to show off its Hardiesque features and we ended up taking refuge from the weather in the Henge Shop.

This shop is a temple to new age artifacts.  Pictures and statues or the mother goddess, handbooks for budding witches, crop circle annuals, birth stones, tarot cards, scrying stones, crystal healing and so on.  I always love it, and it’s a great source of last minute presents and cards.  What always amazes me are the people who take it all so seriously.  Crop circles have increased in sophistication as we learnt how to do laser based computer projections from a nearby hill to guide the beaters. “Pictures” of flying saucers if you look at them over time reflect then current science fiction fashions.  No want really wants to notice that.

Mind you it’s not just the new age people who are blinded to reality.  I have a slide that I use a lot these days, sourced from the New Scientist, which clearly states that all the scientific evidence states that extrinsic rewards destroy intrinsic motivation.  Practical experience confirms it, but Executives and Management Consultants persist in taking seriously what is a delusion.   I’ve run SenseMaker® projects when we examine why people will take quack medicines but ignore proven medical regimes.  Our capacity to be pattern entrained by belief systems and ignore evidence is depressing really.  I am cheering myself up with the image of McKinsey Consultants as half naked druids performing ritual sacrifices around a stone altar.  Then I think about their role in the NHS re-organisation and the dark night of soul reaches out to possess me once again without any hope of grace at the end of the pain.

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

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