inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #76 of 107: Gerald Feene (gerry) Fri 12 Mar 04 09:22
    <scribbled by gerry Fri 12 Mar 04 09:23>
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #77 of 107: Gerry Feeney (gerry) Fri 12 Mar 04 09:23
    
> And then that raises the question of who is going to do the
regulating, if all organizations, presumably governmental as well as
private, are inherently corrupt. <

That's a question that has long intrigued me.  The economist, Milton
Friedman, has long argued that there's no point in having regulatory
agencies because the industries they regulate end up taking over the
agencies.  I don't agree with him that there's no point in trying, but
I do agree with his rationale, and I don't know what the answer is.

Take something like the FCC, for example.  Commincations is a complex
and highly technical industry.  The FCC needs to be staffed by people
who have a lot of knowledge about that industry.  Where do you find
people who have a lot of knowledge about the industry?  In the
industry, of course.  Thus, the revolving door problem.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #78 of 107: Joe Flower (bbear) Fri 12 Mar 04 12:38
    
The "revolving-door" question is not so much "are they corrupt," but "what is 
the core group of which they are a member?" If someone joins the FCC, but 
their true allegiance is to the company they came from, and not to true public 
policy, then you get real problems. Salon's recent article by a just-retired 
top Pentagon staffer is another take on the same problem: The Pentagon 
planning apparatus was taken over by neo-cons from outside who not only did 
not have the requisite skills (whether in military strategy or area studies), 
they did not have any loyalty to the long-term interests and skill sets of the 
Defense Department. They were just using it to forward the interests of their 
Core Group, which stretched across multiple organizational boundaries.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #79 of 107: David Gans (tnf) Fri 12 Mar 04 14:16
    

As our next interview moves to center stage, I want to thank Art and Joe and
all who contributed for an excellent discussion!

It doesn't have to end: you are invited to continue for as long as you like.

Thanks!
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #80 of 107: Clare Eder (ceder) Fri 12 Mar 04 18:08
    <scribbled by ceder Fri 12 Mar 04 18:10>
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #81 of 107: Teleological dyslexic (ceder) Fri 12 Mar 04 18:11
    
I'm sorry to be so late.  The book and these comments had/have me
going inside. Realizing how unaware I've been, a natural enabler
really.  

Like <bbear> I've been on the shtick end of the core group *often*.

Sometimes I've been incredibly lucky; in my first computer oriented
job Hal Royaltey was my boss.  I knew and loved the core group but at
a
University it's all transient.  {OK Hal made me come back inside an go
back to work when I was busy contributing in a student demonstration
to get other undergraduates the same rate I was getting.  Most core
groups would have held it against me.}  

After Citicorp moved their credit card IT to South Dakota because New
York's "sunshine" law or act or something (1982) wasn't going to let
them keep their usery; even though they assured us we would be keeping
our jobs I decided to go into consulting.  That lasted until 1998. 
For
my last job, with Group Health formerly Northwest now Cooperative, I
had taken a suicide job.  Saved the core group favorites and my job
self destructed with "Northwest".

I may contribute something more pensive.  

I loved the book on the third reading <art> ! ;-)  Tanx Eh!
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #82 of 107: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) Fri 12 Mar 04 23:48
    
Art, didn't get the chronology on the WESR query, what is the chronology of
events in your life from that time up until now, just the highpoints.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #83 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sat 13 Mar 04 06:32
    
Gosh, is our moment over already? I feel like we're just getting
started.... 

As long as the staccato rhythm of my participation is OK, I see no
reason to stop. And every reason to keep going. 

I DO want to take this moment for a bit of acknowledgment. First of
all, to David Gans, who invited me (and countless other authors I
assume) into this incredibly valuable space. And then to Joe Flower,
who took on this role as host despite the feelings that this book
raised (and whose description of them was both moving and valuable to
me). And to Gail, whose subtle presence has been noticed. And then to
everyone who has taken part here. I expect to go back over this
transcript and think about these matters again. 

But that doesn't mean these are closing acknowledgments...

I will be back tonight with responses to the items so far. 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #84 of 107: Rip Van Winkle (keta) Sat 13 Mar 04 07:15
    
>Gosh, is our moment over already? I feel like we're just getting
>started.... 

>As long as the staccato rhythm of my participation is OK, I see no
>reason to stop. And every reason to keep going. 


It took a week or so to adjust to the rhythm of the Core Person! ;)
Yes, let's keep going, if you're willing.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #85 of 107: David Gans (tnf) Sat 13 Mar 04 07:18
    
Please do!
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #86 of 107: My Pseud was sent to India (gerry) Sat 13 Mar 04 09:38
    
Yes, Art, I'm very glad to hear that you'll stay on with us, and I
thank you.  I, too, feel like we're just getting started.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #87 of 107: Joe Flower (bbear) Sat 13 Mar 04 12:16
    
>And then to Joe Flower, who took on this role as host despite the 
>feelings that this book raised

Oh, no "despite" about it. The book clarifies a number of things about 
my life to me, and how I have interacted with organizaionts.

In fact, just yesterday I was designing a curriculum for a series of 
seminars for "Building Healthy Cities" groups. I was asked, "what if we 
added a whole day to the curriculum, what would you want to teach?" I 
picked four core ideas about organizations and the future, and this was 
one of them. The other three "teach-ins" would be on how to spin 
scenarios, on Ronald Heifetz' theory of leadership, and on Tom Peters' 
theory of internal subversion.

Put together, I think those four would provide people with a powerful 
set of lenses with which to analyze and strategize about their 
community.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #88 of 107: from LAVINIA WEISSMAN (tnf) Sat 13 Mar 04 19:43
    

Lavinia Weissman writes:


I made a quick summary of what i have

(1).  Core Groups come together organically. They are not necessarily part of
the hierachy and not all members have financial responsibility, yet Core
Groups impact the bottom line.

(2).  Core Groups can draw from the social network and hence the passion that
attracts people to join an organization influences the core group pattern and
mission.

(3).  Core Groups can also take on a lifecycle of their own   e.g. Joe
Flowers recent remarks in [73] about the core group that included his exwife
that went on to work at another nonprofit.  This pattern also suggests a core
group can sustain itself and build career stability for its members.

(4).  I observe that core groups form out of the attractors that emerge from
sharing the authorship of the scenario and that these group investigations
into the future can author a practice that is very different than what might
come out of a consultants technology/theory.   This is where I see real power
in the Springfield Manufacturing as an example. Also because I used this
program as an intervention in a family owned company that was facing
bankruptcy and it worked.  The program empowered the employees to perform
competently when the dysfuncational history previously punished them for not
doing it the founders way.  It is my belief that Jack Stack could be
perceived as the hero who saved the day in this case study and what move the
organization forward was the conversation that was led across the social
network and hierachy on profitabililty, quality and employee ownership and
from that a core group naturally took form.

(5).  IMHO when groups convene through the thought of a hero, unless the
thought leadership can be worked to be relevant to day to day thought and
interaction, the theory stays in the heads of a few and core groups do not
form to guide success with application of the theory. This is where I joined
with Art for the first time after he wrote Age of Heretics. I began to
investigate why it is that change seems to only grow from heroic deeds  and
wanted to study what kinds of groups lead for change (that are not heroically
led).  I have identified a few, e.g. Pew Marine Fellowship Program and
efforts that have grown out of the Nathan Cummings Foundation since the death
of Nathan Cummings. The core group concept has also worked well at IDG and it
has fashioned into something deliberate.  Which may be why IDG is cross
niched in consulting, knowledge, media and events competitor to companies in
that cut across these 4 industries.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #89 of 107: from LAVINIA WEISSMAN (tnf) Sat 13 Mar 04 19:44
    

Lavinia Weissman writes:


As a result of this synthesis, I now have these questions.


    1. What happens when core groups actually recognize themselves and in
that context how do they formally claim their pattern,           view and
then proactively author their dialogue and activity?

and if this is true

2. Can core groups deliberately come together and form inside and outside
organizations?

And in the context of these questions?

 What is the cost of core group arrogance and when does this arrogance form a
power base that supersedes the mission and basic goodness of an organization
and company.

I have seen this play out in

(a).   Industries dominated by an expertise, e.g. software companies run by
software engineers often do not welcome people of other skill and expertise
into a core group. The pattern that Art described in his book "back to flip"
suggests that the core group of a company like this or biotech then exists
for roi to the founders and developers.  This brings into play a power that
is claimed based on a form of arrogance that does not permit the voice of
other expertise. Hence the ecommerce burst (imho). Another model to consider
in this context is managed care of a political party members who select a
leader like "Bush."  and can new core groups emerge to counteract these
trends and can this happen deliberately?

In the context of (a):  I found this trend of thought relevant to the
experiences of many start ups focus on raising  venture capital full time
rather than developing resources to serve thier prospective customers.
Recently post 9/11 I say a start up use that focus in a time when VC almost
disappeared and they raised $500K in six months simply investing angel
investment in a development activity that went beyond anything that anyone
could imagine that sold the product to 6 major teaching hospitals before it
was even developed.  The core group mission was to transform case management
and clinical trials in medicine.  The day to day focus was no on delivering a
tangible roi to investors, the day to day focus was in developing the most
powerful tool possible to transform the practice of medicine.

(b).  Practice groups who preach a culture or theory, who have difficulty
sustaining the attention of its constituents or leading change that measures
actual impact.  For example, my work in healthy communities identified some
groups of chronically ill people.  In fact, I organized a core group that
designed an intervention for a young man who was labelled uneducable due to
his epilepsy. Unlike the typical special ed need, I organized a core group
that linked to health care (traditional and complementary).  At the end of
the school year, the young man caught up to the middle of his class in
reading and participation and was playing sports. 

In the context of (b), I looked in retrospect as to why a group of people I
worked with were able against all odds to author a plan that served a young
epileptic boy to be educationally and medically served for quality of life
and education.  If this knowledge was so valuabel why was this core group
unable to influence a national organization and core group to distribute and
share the story and knowledge in a form that could be applied for other
children with schools and the medical community?
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #90 of 107: Woody Liswood (woody) Sat 13 Mar 04 20:52
    
Art:

Sorry to take so long between responses.

What bothers me about much of the posts, here, and in what you say in
the book is that it appears to be more utopian than practical.

As you talk about Jacques -- who I really like in concept and
principle -- you say that he would see that hierarchy will continue to
exist in organizations.

My view is that so long as organizations (here in the U.S.) pander to
the short-term financial requirements of the New York stock analyst
community, there will be no real hope for organizations to take any
long-term view of things.

I would also speculate that Friedman has done more damange to the
evolution potential of organizations than any other person or event.

So long as profit is the driving motivation behind the Board Room, the
Core Group will have no choice but to play that tune and follow that
piper because short term financial gains -- as specified by stock price
-- are what matters.  The greed (or whatever one calls it) that many
folks see in executive salaries is just a by product of the drive for
profit.  When one sells one's soul to the provit motivate -- then one
looks to some sort of reward for doing so.

I look at profit as a by-product of the purpose of the organization --
and still preach Drucker when he wrote that the purpose of business
was TO CREATE CUSTOMERS.   

I don't see any chance of organization's maturing -- as you write
about it -- until the profit motive changes and organizations realize
that they serve multiple purposes, not just stock price.
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #91 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 09:54
    
#66: Gerry Feeney writes:  “One of the things that has most baffled me
in observing managers is how little they seem to know or care about
what I learned in management courses as the new school of thought - and
I assume they must have learned the same things, yet never practiced
them.” And then you ask, quite reasonably: “What, if anything, does
this have to do with Core Group theory?” 

There seem to be three categories of people who take a job: A) People
who take the work seriously (i.e., they really want the work to come
out well for its own intrinsic sake); B) people who take the community
seriously (they don’t care much about the work, but they want to belong
to a workplace where they fit and feel mutual respect); C) and people
who don’t take any of it seriously. They’re there to play a game, and
ideally to win – but they could care less whether they’re making and
selling semiconductors or bananas. 

Category A pays attention to management thinking as a means to an end.
Category B pays attention to management thinking as a vehicle for
emotional justice (i.e., how can they help counter the abuses of the
system?) And Category C will pay attention or not, depending on whether
they think it will help them in the game. 

I assume you were among a group of Category C people… Rank, hierarchy,
and motivation don’t work nearly as well (in child-raising and in
management), but they’re easier to practice and get some results. With
truly in-depth, high-quality management techniques, you need a lot of
attention and you need to care. (Again, like child-raising.) 

Where Core Group behavior comes in is in aggregate. An organization of
Category C people in a company with a Category A Core Group will learn
to game the system – either by pretending to care or by genuinely
learning to care. Conversely, Category A people – who intrinsically
care about the work – will have a very hard time trying to manage
others in a company where everyone is attuning themselves to a Category
C Core Group ethic. 

This stuff isn’t in the book; I just articulated it this morning as my
initial answer to your question. I haven’t really tested it in my
mind, but at first glance it seems like the answer. 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #92 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 09:55
    
>>#67, Keta writes about Whole Earth: “Kevin Kelly was subtly intuited
to be too dangerous to let into the core group.” 

I regarded Kevin as being in the Core Group at Whole Earth almost from
the moment he arrived there. (He arrived as I did; first as a reader,
then a correspondent, then an article writer, and then an editor.)
Kevin has a quality which worked very well at Whole Earth and probably
very well at Wired as well; he always acted as if he was in the Core
Group of whatever system he was in. Or so it seems to me in retrospect.
(I want to keep acknowledging that when talking about real people
there’s always a temptation to soar off into talking about the
‘Kevin-in-my-head,’ which may not have that much to do with the Kevin
in reality.)  

>> #67-68: “What is interesting to me is that the organizational
ante-room for indigestible ethos-changers (at least in my case) seems
to be jobs attending to other people’s details.”

I’m not sure I follow. Examples, please?  

>>”Maybe what makes someone dangerous to an existing core group is
their facility with moving between Details and Big Picture.”

Royal Dutch Shell used to try to pick out such people and groom them
for achievement. They called it having a “helicopter quality.” 

I’m not quite sure what gives Royal Dutch/Shell its habitual
oscillation between extreme short-sightedness and extreme long-term
perspective, but that may have something to do with it. 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #93 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 09:56
    
#69: Gail Williams wrote about “the kind of person who is the rational
but pessimistic brakes to an organizational sportscar” as a
contrarian. 

In my view, if the Core Group is perceived as a set of sportscar
drivers, pessimists will not just be perceived as contrarians, but
shunned. Who are they to rain on the Core Group’s parade? 

But then there are the highly risk-averse Core Groups. In those
organizations, the innovators and enthusiasts for action are – well,
patronized. “That’s nice. Go play with a little budget and invent a new
industry. Come back and tell us when it’s done.” Every once in a
while, they manage to do exactly that and then the knives really come
out, and they get eviscerated. 

That, to me, is the essence of the Topeka Dog Food story in Chapter 3
of The Age of Heretics. 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #94 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 09:56
    
#70: Robert Worrill reminds me of The Social Psychology of
Organizations. I should have looked at that. It was probably the
antecedent I was missing in that field. I never got to have the
in-depth conversation about this with Don Michael that I would have
liked to have had. 

I’m not sure “having more people working for you” is in fact a
rational goal or a gut-instinct one. I suspect the latter. Both in
terms of conventional success measures, and in terms of fundamental
happiness, I suspect people with fewer direct reports score, on
average, better than those with big staffs. But that’s just a hunch. 

It would be interesting to test sometime. Where is my army of graduate
students? (Oops, I forgot to get a PhD in management.)
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #95 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 09:58
    
>>#71: Lavinia Weissman’s message (which I won’t repost here) is an
answer to the question we had earlier: What is a great Core Group? 

And she’s starting to research and benchmark the answers –
particularly around layoffs. I admire Lavinia’s work tremendously
(we’ve been corresponding and talking about it for a while), and I’m
looking forward to seeing how this work-in-progress plays out. When
it’s done, we may have a better idea of what kinds of specific
practices can indeed make a Core Group great. 

Lavinia, you argue that Great Core Groups don’t lay off people
indiscriminately. My own view of layoffs is that they are typically
addictive (this is an insight from management academic Wayne Cascio).
Companies get into layoffs because they cut costs without putting too
much perceived stress on the Core Group (in the short run, anyway.)
Once a layoff cycle has run its course, and the original problems
return, it’s harder to come up with any answer except – another layoff
cycle! 

You also argue that organizations with great Core Groups are those
which systematically develop their people to be Core Group members.
Here, again, my temptation is to agree. However, it would be
interesting to find out if there are organizations that systematically
develop their people but do NOT have a Great Core Group. 

So how do we decide which organizations have Great Core Groups? I know
of only two approaches, and Jim Collins has tried both of them. In his
first book, he and Jerry Porras asked business opinion leaders – what
are the great companies? (The result was Built to Last.) In the second,
he came up with an “objective” measure of a subjective phenomenon:
What companies, after 11 years of mediocre stock market performance,
then had 11 years of breakaway improved performance? 

It’s a pretty good measure, but it’s also Collins’ greatest weakness.
Stock price is an extremely limited measure, if you care about the
ultimate impact of the organization on the world. 

How do we measure great organizations? What criteria do we use for
results? And then – can we find short-term criteria, other than the
stock price, that will translate into long-term financial success?
Simply by engendering a viable Core-Group-driven enterprise? 

Finally, you talk about “work-life balance.” I think three issues are
conflated here, and a real discussion of work-life balance needs to
address all three: 

1. What platform does the economy and political system in general
provide for work-life balance? I.e., how feasible is it to live and/or
raise a family in quality on a moderate budget? (This might not mean
government support. There could be lots of ways of engendering a
widespread threshold of reasonably good quality of life. But you need
some pretty good community threshold if you’re going to strike a good
work-life balance.)

2. What does the organization support? What structures does it put in
place? On-site child care makes a big difference, for instance. 

3. What choices does the person make as an individual?
(I.e., whose in YOUR Core Group? What choices do you think you have?) 

In the end, I think all three of these factors are equally important.
An intervention on only one or two of the levels won’t really have the
requisite effect. And they’re all knee-deep in entrenched attitudes. A
society which implicitly believes “men work, and women take care of the
children” will reinforce that ethos with its quality-of-life
thresholds. An organization that believes “you have to be the most
ruthless to win” will reinforce that ethic with its structures, even
demanding a loss of balance to weed out the “uncommitted.” And a person
who believes, “I can just take care of my problems by working a little
harder” will always be out of balance. 

So if you really want a work-life balance, you have to 1) move to a
community which has good quality of life at relatively low cost, 2)
work for a place with half-decent structures (and a Core Group that
supports them), and 3) make more attentive choices. 

Come to  think of it, this would be an interesting basis for a book,
wouldn’t it? 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #96 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 09:59
    
#72: Queen Amygdala raises the question of governance: Who is going to
do the regulating, if all organizations, presumably governmental as
well as private, are inherently corrupt? 

I agree with Joe in #74 and yourself in #75: I don’t think all
organizations are inherently corrupt. I think their corruption (or lack
of it) is revealed in their Core Group nature. 

There are two ways to talk about this: What is the ideal society? And
what do we do to improve the society we have now? 

In an ideal society, I think the number of organizations serves as a
check on any one or two (or 20) organizations becoming corrupt. We have
a governance crisis pending in this country because we haven’t figured
out how to create a checks-and-balances system for the thousands of
organizations that now comprise the body politic. 

In other words, I’m probably at the other end of the scale than Milton
Friedman. (See Gerry’s #77.) Let’s have regulators – but lots of
regulators, some with government attachments (chosen through election),
some with industry attachments (I think the practice of lobbying
should be written into the Constitution, instead of operating as a
shadow, underground government), and some with other constituencies.
That’s what we have now, in fact, with agencies, lobbyists and NGOs,
but it’s an abusive system because we don’t recognize it as explicit. 

For improving the society we have now, I think more open talk about
the quality of organizations and Core Groups is a start. Besides
hearing about Martha Stewart, I’d like to hear about the rest of the
Core Group of the organization – and to what extent the stonewalling
she did (if it is indeed a heinous crime) has been part of the entire
organization’s ethic. 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #97 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 09:59
    
#73: Joe tells about a Core Group surviving the death of its
organization. Heh. I would have liked to have told that one in the
book. I know there are other similar cases but I can’t think of any
right offhand. 

#74: and Apple Computer. I’d love to talk in depth to someone who
really knows the history of Apple first-hand. I think Jobs was
blindsided by his own company’s Core Group structure in the 1980s, and
it would be interesting to find out how. Why did he have to create a
skunkworks to create the Macintosh, for instance? 

When he came back, it wasn’t just a personal triumph. It was a triumph
of his original Core Group, many of whom (I’d guess) had hung on at
Apple over the years. This in turn has given them a resilience and
sense of quality that you just don’t find at many companies. Steve Jobs
clearly put together a Core Group that enabled this approach; but it
wasn’t just Jobs in the 1980s, and I doubt it’s just Jobs now. 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #98 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 10:00
    
Re #81: Ceder writes, “…the book has me realizing how unaware I’ve
been, a natural enabler really.” 

The book itself started with the realization that a lot of people I
knew were enablers. Ceder, I appreciate the compliment tremendously –
to have written a book that has gone through a third reading… 
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #99 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 10:06
    
Re #82: Paul asks for my chronology of life events. Here it is, "just
the highlights": 

1954-1971 – Grew up, mostly, in suburban New York/lower Hudson Valley.
Knew I was going to write for a living starting around 2nd grade,
maybe earlier. There was never any question but that I would pursue an:

1971-1975 – Undergraduate degree in English and mass media – in my
case, at State U of New York at Albany. Learned enough about filmmaking
to realize I would never be willing to keep track of that many other
people. (Heh.) Started a small-press magazine which we distributed
throughout the Hudson Valley. Knew I couldn’t stomach graduate school
in English (already the clouds of deconstructionism were looming), so I
became:

1976-1977 – footloose, worked as a clerk in San Francisco and a
night-shift typesetter in New York. Got deeper into the small-press
literary magazine scene. Tried writing fiction, dissatisfied myself,
went to: 

1977-1979 – graduate school in Journalism at UC Berkeley. Was unique
in also taking courses in graphic design, hoping to create a magazine.
Began covering computer-telecommunications, learned about the “Friday
project” (teenagers at the Lawrence Hall of Science), started
interviewing them, began to hear about the tremendous number of
interesting stories emerging in the nascent computer industry.
Published a prospectus for a new magazine, which included a history of
magazines on a timeline, sent it to Stewart Brand, which led to: 

1980-1984 – Working on the Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Software
Catalog, and CoEvolution Quarterly. Tremendous opportunity and
education, and worked with people whose words, thoughts and care I
still carry with me (including some who are deceased). Though I had
little computer background and great mistrust for the topic, I got
caught up in the wave, and ended up probably one of the leading experts
on personal computer telecommunications. It helped that I’d been an
early user of the EIES network at New Jersey Institute of Technology,
and a CompuServe host of the Whole Earth Forum. Felt like I’d never
really make it as a writer if I stayed there, though, so I left on
January 1985….

1985-1988 – in a series of steps which seemed unplanned at the time:
Covering Silicon Valley and computers for the San Francisco Bay
Guardian, teaching at New York University’s Interactive
Telecommunications Program, writing a failed book about computers,
freelancing for the New York Times Magazine (twice printed, twice
killed), and trying to break into magazine writing. Met my wife, Faith
Florer, at a small press magazine meeting in New York. Started moving
away from computer writing into advertising and marketing writing and
then into feature and business writing, with a detour in 1988 into
fashion writing. Never quite managed to find A-list opportunities, and
I grew more and more financially desperate, even trying to freelance as
a data base programmer for a while (what a joke) until…

1989-1995 – Harriet Rubin introduced me to Peter Senge, who was
writing a book that became The Fifth Discipline. At the same time, I
became intrigued by the stories I was hearing of hippies and heretics
influencing large corporations. Proposed The Age of Heretics to
Doubleday; proposal accepted, the advance was spent almost immediately.
The book would take six more years to finish. Began writing about
corporate environmentalism for Garbage Magazine. Ghostwrote for a
variety of people (learned scenario planning by helping Peter Schwartz
write Art of the Long View). Spent part of 1990 in England, and
1991-1995 in Oxford, Ohio, where Faith was pursuing a PhD in
experimental/cognitive psychology. Worked during much of this time as
editorial director for the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, and at the MIT
Center for Organizational Learning (site of the anecdote about my palms
sweating.) Began teaching the scenario planning course, “The Future of
the Infrastructure,” that continues to this day, with all our
scenarios tracked over time on our website. Things shifted when I… 

1996-1999 – Moved to New York, where I currently live. With Age of
Heretics published and praised (I became a GBN network member after
that) but not financially successful, I entered a whirlwind of
activity: Developing the learning history approach with George Roth and
Nina Kruschwitz, putting together two more fieldbooks,and doing a lot
more ghostwriting. Our first daughter was born in July 1998. Gained a
very little money in the bubble, put much of it into home improvement
before the downturn and then sold the house, so came out ahead. I’m
getting tired of the transitions, so I’ll just mention… 

2000-now – Two more daughters (born election night 2000 and September
2002), a regular column in strategy+business, an ongoing role in the
Dialogos consulting firm (Cambridge MA), the Who Really Matters project
(which occupied much of 2000-2003), and the book’s aftermath (which
occupies much of now). Looking around right now for the Next Big Thing
to do. So, I gather, is the rest of the world.  
  
inkwell.vue.208 : Art Kleiner: Who Really Matters? The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege and Succes
permalink #100 of 107: Art Kleiner (art) Sun 14 Mar 04 10:38
    
Here's my replies to the last few items (#87-89) by Joe, Lavinia, and
Woody Liswood (hi, Woody! Some may recognize Woody as the editor of the
"Analyzing" (spreadsheets and analytical software) section of the
Whole Earth Software Catalog. Currently, Woody teaches skiing and
practices management, or is it teaches management and practices
skiing?) 

Joe and Lavinia, I don't have anything to add to y our #87-88.
Lavinia, your points in #88 all seem right on to me. 

Here's my stab at your questions in #89: 

    1. What happens when core groups actually recognize themselves and
in that context how do they formally claim their pattern, view and
then proactively author their dialogue and activity?

It's tricky. Because they can't really proclaim themselves part of the
"Core Group." They haven't put themselves there --others have put them
there by making decisions on their perceived behalf. 

One thinks of the many TV characters who proclaim themselves part of
the Core Group but actually aren’t: the commanding officer on Sergeant
Bilko, Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes, Douglas Brackman on L.A. Law,
Frank Burns on M*A*S*H (I’m dating myself, aren’t I?)… it’s practically
an iconic plotline, the authority that carries no legitimacy (Macbeth)
or lost legitimacy (King Lear) or eroding legitimacy. Why is this
legitimacy-authority battle such an archetype? Perhaps because it’s
endemic to real life, and so painful and subtle in reality that people
want to see it portrayed in comedy (or drama) to come to terms with it.
  

I think it’s better for a Core Group to keep it informal, but to begin
taking the kind of steps that would demonstrate their commitment to
the long-term future and success of the enterprise – and to get to know
each other and to learn more about how each other acts and thinks. As
they start paying attention to different things, and better things,
people throughout the organization will get the message. 

2. Can Core Groups deliberately come together and form across
organizational boundaries? (Is that what your question means, Lavinia?)

Again, it’s tricky. If they’re forming across organizational
boundaries, then are they coming together on behalf of the
organization? Or if not, what? Who’s making decisions on their behalf?
What fish are they frying? What future are they looking at? 

I think there are many such groups, but they’re not quite the same
type of entity. They’re more like governance vehicles operating in
society at large.  

As for question #3, what is the cost of core group arrogance, I think
you answer it very effectively. 

I think it’s important, however, to give the Core Group the benefit of
the doubt until proven corrupt and venal. 

Finally, Lavinia, your start-up medical example is the only plausible
answer I see to Woody’s #90: “As long as the short-term financial
requirements hold sway, there’s no real hope to take a longer-term view
of things.” 

Woody, I think it’s true: The pressure of the financial markets (and
the bond markets) is undeniable. 

But it is NOT a one-size-fits-all situation. There are public
companies that take a long-term view. They do it the old-fashioned way:
by stating their short- and long-term objectives, by paying dividends
or otherwise showing that they have shareholders on the mind, by
cultivating relationships with key shareholders and establishing
collective views of what would constitute success, and by being willing
to say, “If you don’t agree with this, put your money elsewhere.”
Admittedly, it helps to be a company like Ford, with family money on
management’s side. But there are lots of other companies which do some
version of this. 
They all have one thing in common in my view: They’re competent. They
produce reliable returns. They’re stable enough to produce good
results, and flexible enough to meet changing customer needs. In the
absence of competence, companies are thrown back on the vagaries of the
market and CEOs can get fired. 

But in my view, the idea that “public companies are hobbled” is a
fiction that Core Groups use to coast and make easy choices. It’s easy
to turn in a good quarterly report – compared to creating a successful
company. 

I’m not diminishing the pressure from investors. I think the pressure
is very real. I’m just saying that the real currency is not return on
investment. It’s trust. ROI is one way to build trust, but there are
lots of other ways. 

I also disagree that “The greed (or whatever one calls it) that many
folks see in executive salaries is just a by product of the drive for
profit.” I think the “drive for profit” is a byproduct of the implicit
aggregate greed of the organization on behalf of the Core Group. If the
purpose of the company is to boost the Core Group members’ salaries
(and give others hope of getting theirs boosted when they get in), then
the organization will naturally look to quick-returns, because that’s
the quickest and seemingly easiest way to accomplish this. 

Even mature organizations fall prey to this. And it’s hard not to. As
someone trying to raise three children in a New York suburb right now,
I sometimes wonder if it’s possible to do it well without a $300K+
annual salary. Is that greed? Or is that more like being caught in a
structure which encourages greed? 

So we’re back to the work-family balance. I agree, there’s lots of
reason to be skeptical of organizations maturing. But there’s also some
evidence that they thrive as they mature. I guess the question is:
What do we do while we’re waiting? And do we care enough to try to help
the process along a bit, in our limited and imperfect ways? 
  

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