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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Saturday 20 April 2013

The Peter Principle Redux

The Peter Principle works thusly:  in an organizational hierarchy, every employee will rise or get promoted to his or her level of incompetence.  It's kind of an economic-esque model that implies a system functions based on set principles, regardless of the intentions of the people within said system.  The key problem with that premise is that implies a given system is functioning.
Here's how I'd revamp the Peter Principle: people in a social system will rise (succeed) or get promoted (monetary or social status) based on:
A) their skill 
B) their good fortune both genetic and circumstantial 
C) their ability to take credit for the work of others
D) their ability to pass on blame for their errors or omissions to someone else.
Maybe we should call this the Paul principle - after all, robbing from Peter to pay Paul does nothing to clear the debt - it merely passes it around.

It's SOCIAL Economics, Smarty-Pants!

A free-market economy implies a math-based level of social balance where everyone plays fairly by the same rules.  Can you think of one example anywhere in human history where things have actually played out this way?
Argue all you want about robust justice systems or more aggressive, better-armed law enforcement - building a better mouse trap simply encourages a smarter mouse. 
And that's just economics - how about social design?  Standardized testing implies standardized students with the same cognitive abilities, access to dietary needs and parenting influences.  One-size-fits-all transit systems don't take into account the roots causes of erratic driving behaviour, as per the picture above.  Even our model of democracy implies everyone's paying attention and Political Parties aren't looking for creative ways to bend the rules, putting the win ahead of the system.
Self-described smart people can tell us "it's the economy, stupid" all they want - but if they haven't taken the time to understand social economics, they're being too clever by half. 
We've got both an opportunity and a need to start designing social systems to better meet the needs and realistic behaviour patterns of citizens.  Until we start recognizing that people are emotional creatures first, rational creatures second, we're deluding ourselves when we say this time, it's going to work.
Of course, substantial change requires the people at the top to recognize it's their job to go out and aggressively advocate for ideas from the grassroots, not vice-versa.  Of course, the nature of aggressive confidence is such that those who need to reach out the most will be the least inclined to do so while those with the best hopes of fostering a sustainable society are least likely to fight others to realize it.
Getting to the root cause of social behaviour can mess with your head, can't it?

Friday 19 April 2013

The CPC - On a Roll, In a Spiral Or Just Plain AWOL?

That's the CPC's new line, now - we don't have time for talkfests, we need action - and if we don't get it we'll pull out, damned the consequences!  Although unilateral action never really seems to follow, either.  In fact, CPC action tends to be in the away-from direction.  Not very bold and leader-like, but maybe that's just me.

Funny thing, though; when other people come up with non-partisan solutions to problems impacting all MPs - and therefore, their constituents, the people of Canada - Team Harper seems to find reasons to delay action, don't they?  Pushing for more debate on a bill in its final stages kinda implies that more, not less, talking is required.

Whatever works for your context, I guess.  Just hope nobody is mapping out and infographicing your inconsistencies; that would really suck to deal with over an election.

IDIC - Engaging Youth in #cdnpoli

You Can't Stop Progress

I may have written on this subject a bit.  It's pretty interesting.  Social Conservatives are facing a losing war - even when they win battles, the emerging long term trend is away from a silo-based, two-row wampum sort of culture to one that's more polycultural in its character.

The ‘Big Shift’ may be moving into reverse iPolitics Insight

Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits the Sikh temple of Sri Keshgarh Sahib Gurdwara in Anandpur Sahib, India on Wednesday, November 7, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
The two most powerful demographic forces in Canadian society are aging and immigration. Both are profoundly altering the political landscape — and both have boosted the Conservative party in recent years.
Tonight I want to focus on how immigration is altering the political fortunes of different parties and speculate as to what this augurs for the future. I will also look at attitudes to immigration itself, how this is evolving in Canada and how this links to party preference and other factors.
Canada is a rapidly pluralizing society and, for the most part, it seems to be managing that transition to much greater heterogeneity very well. The huge tensions over immigration evident in both the United States and Europe are much more muted in Canada.
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Opposition to what are (relatively) much lower levels of immigration in the U.S. is more than twice as high as it is in Canada. In both the States and Europe, immigration and multiculturalism are hot button issues with real ballot-booth consequences.
Immigration is not a significant election issue in Canada. Canadians also recognize diversity as a positive value; it rates high in Canada and higher than in the U.S. In fact, in a forced-choice poll to describe Canada’s greatest achievement over the past 20 years, diversity was tied as the second most popular choice.

The longer-term tracking of attitudes to immigration is revealing, however. In the mid-1990s, over half of Canadians thought there were ‘too many’ immigrants coming to Canada. This deep anxiety about immigration was a product both of economic and cultural insecurity. The following chart shows that those fears subsided substantially and, after a spike upward following 9/11, opposition levels continued downward — even as they continued to rise dramatically in the U.S.
Using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) method of polling, we resumed tracking in 2011 and those results show that opposition to immigration may be on the rise again. (We do believe that a large part of this apparent rise is due to respondents feeling more comfortable in giving candid responses to the robot than they would to a live interviewer.)

The other tracking item is a more direct measure of racial intolerance. It asks the respondent to forget about the levels of immigration and tell us whether too many immigrants are visible minorities. While this is not a particularly harsh expression of racial intolerance (compared to things like refusals to hire, or acts of violence) it is clearly an expression of some level of racial discrimination. If one agrees that, regardless of the actual number of immigrants arriving in Canada, simply too many of them are non-white, that is an expression of some level of racial intolerance.
The tracking on this measure is closely linked to overall attitudes to immigration, which suggests that part of the resistance to immigration is rooted in intolerance or xenophobia. The most recent readings show that our self-congratulatory image of ourselves as a tolerant society which celebrates diversity may be a bit premature. The overall evidence is that hard racial intolerance has dropped dramatically over the last fifty years in upper North America. This new evidence suggests that some forms of racial intolerance continue to persist, albeit in more benign forms than in the past.

Our two most recent readings show another finding. Usually we find more people opposed to immigration in general than people opposed to visible minority immigration; in our most recent polls that gap has disappeared. This might be a reflection of the shift in the composition of immigration to a much greater concentration of visible minorities than in the past — or it may signal other social changes. It bears monitoring and further investigation.

The next chart shows the patterns on who feels most strongly that there are too many immigrants in general and too many immigrants who are visible minorities. Two groups stand out as particularly opposed to visible minority immigration.

The first is Albertans — which is mildly puzzling, given their acute economic need for greater immigration to cover deep labour market shortages and the election of a Muslim mayor in Calgary. It may be a reflection of the same phenomenon that we saw in Toronto earlier in the nineties when rapid immigration produced short-term, very strong opposition — which has largely disappeared since.

The second group is Conservative supporters. The fact that 56 per cent of Conservative supporters think there are too many visible minority immigrants shows an internal contradiction between the party’s outreach strategy and the inclinations of most of its constituents.
In the nineties, one of the key concerns expressed by critics of multiculturalist immigration policies was that it would produce ethnic ghettoization. A related concern was that national unity and identity would be threatened by a fragmentation of ethnic identities and the presence of different value systems connected with those identities.

In the following chart we can compare levels of attachment to both ethnic group and national ancestries from the late 1990s to the present. Notably this period saw a large influx of new immigration, raising Canada’s overall diversity to its highest-ever levels. It is therefore highly instructive to note the large drop in ethnic identification (61 to 43) and the continued strength of Canadian identity (79 to 74). This suggests that, quite contrary to fears expressed by critics of multiculturalism, high levels of immigration produced a broad lowering of overall ethnic and source-country identification, while national attachment stayed much stronger.
The rapid rise in immigrant and visible minority populations is not just sociologically interesting; it poses very real challenges to political parties. The political arithmetic is obvious. The Liberals’ huge traditional advantage with these groups evaporated as the party’s fortunes fell and the Conservatives engaged in concerted outreach to these groups.

The Conservatives’ success on this front was very evident in the last election, particularly in some of the ethnically-rich suburban ridings surrounding Toronto. The exact proportions of this success aren’t clear but obviously there was a marked improvement in Conservative fortunes with the non-Canadian born. This success has been seen as an ingredient of future success in recent work by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson (The Big Shift). The strength of their argument — that this shift in the immigrant vote is part of a game-change which sets the stage for continued Conservative success in the 21st century — is less clear.

As we can see in the tracking here, the Liberal Party actually has been recovering very well with the non-Canadian born. The Conservatives’ have surrendered their lead with this group and the NDP is falling back as well. Obviously these shifts mirror the general trends in the electorate — but in comparing to the same period with the Canadian-born we can see some significant differences in the patterns.

Most significantly, the Liberal rise has been sharper in the immigrant voter population — dramatic, in fact. The Conservatives still have a slight lead with the Canadian-born but they now are significantly behind with the immigrant vote. It is not clear how this will evolve from here but it is clear that the current patterns suggest that this part of the ‘big shift’ is going the other way.

The Conservatives have been wise to try to bring the non-Canadian born into their constituency. In the U.S. this growing portion of the population has been decisively moving to the Democrats — to the point where Stanley Greenberg has called the Republican Party, with its focus on the white working class, a “dying cult”. Clearly the Conservative party has taken this challenge seriously.

Canadians seem to have largely inoculated themselves from the extreme forms of the ‘clash-of-civilizations’ disease seen in other parts of the developed world — ironically, through the (non-official) multiculturalism which is viewed with such disdain in some elite circles today.

As the earlier figures on the continued presence of racial discriminatory attitudes showed earlier, our success in creating a more tolerant and diverse society remains a work in progress. The Conservative party should be applauded for its outreach to the immigrant vote and continued open-immigration policies. They may, however, want to deal with the unusually high incidence of opposition to visible minority immigrants held by their supporters.
Finally, the social shift to an extremely diverse, open and cosmopolitan citizenry can be a singular Canadian advantage in this century. But the greatest source of this diversity is in younger Canada — which increasingly is on the sidelines, both politically and economically. This needs to be corrected.

For more detailed numbers from the latest EKOS polls, click here and here.

Frank Graves is the founder and president of EKOS Research Associates Inc. and one of the country’s leading applied social researchers. Mr. Graves regularly lectures and publishes on a broad range of topics in research design and related methodological topics. Most recently, he has been writing and publishing in the area of public policy, specifically on the impact of Canadians’ changing views towards their governments and their country.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.
A note from EKOS on methodology:

This study was conducted using Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology, which allows respondents to enter their preferences by punching the keypad on their phone, rather than telling them to an operator.

In an effort to reduce the coverage bias of landline only RDD, EKOS created a dual landline/cell phone RDD sampling frame for this research. As a result, EKOS was able to reach those with a landline and cellphone, as well as cellphone-only households and landline-only households. This methodology is not to be confused with the increasing proliferation of non-probability opt-in online panels.

The field dates for this survey are April 3-10, 2013. In total, a random sample of 4,568 Canadian adults aged 18 and over responded to the survey. The margin of error associated with the total sample is +/-1.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Please note that the margin of error increases when the results are sub-divided (i.e., error margins for sub-groups such as region, sex, age, education). All the data have been statistically weighted to ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the actual population of Canada according to Census data.
© 2013 iPolitics Inc.

Economics Vs Social Economics

If the only thing that mattered was profit, this trend wouldn't have happened, would it?
People aren't rational - they fear differences.  Stigma is an anxious reaction, the same kind of feeling you'd feel giving your first presentation to a big audience.  Like any perceived phobia, regular, contextualized exposure with positive outcomes reduces the perception of threat and builds resiliency.

After, being tough isn't about building walls or firing people - it's about rolling up your sleeves and tackling challenges head on. 

It's a another thing our Economist PM could stand to learn.  As the Toronto example proves, its one Alberta will learn - and which will change their perspective in interesting ways.

Socialopoly: Bankers, Social Entrepreneurs and the Value Proposition

We've turned to business elites for advice on governance.  We've tried technocrats, pollsters, spin doctors and yes, bankers.  These are all confident, successful people in their own way.  If success is success and the best way to run government is like a business, then why is it we're losing our status as a global economic superstar?  Why is hiring stalled?  What's not sparking in innovation yet flaring up in mental illness?
If these were the right folk for the job with the right advice for the times, surely we would be making some progress on these fronts - but we aren't.
Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  If the usual suspects aren't producing exceptional results, perhaps it's time to seek out different consultants.
Here's a radical notion - why not seek advice from grassroots social entrepreneurs?  They are business-oriented but equally pro-social.  Social entrepreneurs tend to be more hands-on with people on the ground, too, meaning they have a better sense of the common person's reality than someone who lives Gangnam style.

I know a bunch of folk who put social accomplishment before personal profit; they're out there working on everything from e-governance to education, labour design to mental health.  They have great ideas, but they don't know that bringing those ideas to government as policy suggestions is an option.  They've never been engaged that way before and government engagement isn't exactly something they teach in school. 
Oh - they also come a LOT cheaper than the Gord Nixon's of the world.

Give 'em a chance, government - you'll be glad you did.


Harpernian Governocracy: Do as I Say, Not Do as I Do

Team Harper aren't the only ones who play the "do as I say, not do as I do" game.  Politicians of all stripes and at all levels will decry bullying even as they engage in the very essence of bullying behaviour, except directed at their opponents.
That's okay, though - you have to be tough to be in the blood sport of politics.  Right?
Wrong.  Bully politicians provide terrible role models - and not just for youth.  As Political Machines break rules, lie, misrepresent the facts, throw staffers under the bus and occasionally, hire them back when nobody is looking, they're setting the standard for everyone else - the private sector, students, moms and dads at home. 
The message is this - anything you can get away with, goes.  If you get caught misbehaving, just be extra belligerent and hit someone else to change the focus.
If you truly believe that the ends justify the means, then you're essentially saying poverty, war, street violence, homelessness and that $50 billion mental health crisis don't matter.  It's all just collateral damage on the way to power and the deconstruction of society.
That's fine, if you want to live in a Game of Thrones feudalistic society.  That, essentially, has been the internal model for Political Parties for ages - and that top-down, my-way-or-the-street approach has trickled down to politics in general.  We fundamentally don't live in a democracy any more - we live in a governocracy, where whoever is in charge feels they can shape the rules and even the laws of political nature.
It's all an illusion, though - the non-leaders like Harper are rubbing salt in the nation's wounds and inflaming our social problems.  They say they're doing this to strengthen the economy, but even that's not happening.  There's a reason for this - "the economy" is the political equivalent of the golden calf; you don't strengthen the financial viability of a nation by cutting off or abandoning its people.  The people are the foundation of the economy, not vice-versa.
The single best thing the Harper government has done so far is the creation of a Psychological Safe Workplace initiative.  Watch this video and learn - by devaluing people at the expense of the economy, by trying to bully people into behaviour Team Harper feels works best for the economy, they are fuelling the very problem they're trying to solve.  They've come to a point where the attempt to engineer a conservative society is negatively impacting the Canadian people.
That's not leadership.  That's a blatant disregard of responsibility for selfish gain that encourages others to do the same.
There's only one way to lead - and that's by example.  If that example includes casting stones, expect the people to follow.


Thursday 18 April 2013

Building Intrapreneurial Cultures

Drive Innovation, Competitive Advantage and Customer Experience
The traditional perception of intrapreneurship being the domain of a few ‘exclusive’ individuals is being replaced by the recognition that a pervasive ‘intrapreneurial culture’, centered on the customer experience and driven by entrepreneurial values, is key to sustained innovation and competitive advantage. Some organizations, including the likes of Dell and Google, have formalized the role of the intrapreneur through official positions such as the ‘Entrepreneur In Residence’ (EIR) or ‘Chief Innovation Officer’, whilst others have sought to ‘buy-in’ intrapreneurs by acquiring start-ups with an entrepreneur in situ. Yet in this age of corporate austerity and intensified competitive threat, businesses need to create and foster intrapreneurial values and behavior across the whole organization if they are to stimulate widespread innovation, increase efficiencies and remain competitive. Defined intrapreneur roles can certainly act as catalysts, however intrapreneurship should be embedded in the overall culture of the business: adopted, accepted and celebrated as core practice and directed towards the organizational goals. Companies must therefore become versed in the methods and practices for activating and developing intrapreneurship if they are to meet the demands of today’s brave new world:
1. Look For It

Building an intrapreneurial culture isn’t about ‘creating’ intrapreneurs; invariably they already exist within the organization, they just need to be discovered, nurtured and loved! By identifying and understanding existing intrapreneurs, their endeavors can be encouraged and appropriately supported to enable them to flourish. Where the company doesn’t recognize intrapreneurs they are more likely to become disenfranchised as their natural efforts are undermined and quashed, further having a resonant disruptive impact on the wider team. Intrapreneurs don’t fall into a single profile; moreover a diverse mix of individuals exhibiting a range of intrapreneurial attributes, skills and personalities is optimal to drive innovation and value-generation across the business. Leaders must accept and not fear diversity, as it is a key stimulant of ideas; they should therefore look to assemble and unleash a diverse workforce if they are to maximize the intrapreneurial opportunity. By actively seeking and being seen to encourage intrapreneurship, by giving intrapreneurs the room to explore their full potential and range of interests, the company will build it’s brand in the talent market, giving an edge over it’s competition in being able to attract and recruit the most sought after individuals. It is important that as the organization recruits new talent, it proactively seeks people with intrapreneurial traits who will complement and augment the incumbent team.
2. Be Transparent

Company vision, goals and strategy are not the purview of a mere few. Owners and leaders must be transparent and candid with their teams if they are to stimulate and develop intrapreneurship, not just in providing a future direction, but also the realities of the now. Intrapreneurs are not renegades; they do not act as subversives to the organizational collective good. Intrapreneurial endeavors should always be conducted in the best interests and congruent with the overarching vision and strategies of the parent business. As such, intrapreneurs need to see the big picture if they are to bring new thinking and value that is aligned to the organization’s needs and goals. Their initiatives will be more relevant and productive if they have visibility and understanding of the wider context, as well as having greater scope to merge and align their ideas with others. Intrapreneurs, as employees, feel more empowered if they know where they’re going and why they’re going there.
3. Be Inclusive

Make people feel integrated and part of the company, no matter what their job is. Give them a sense of value and togetherness so that they are motivated to work for the best of the business and not just their own self-interests. Intrapreneurship is a win-win; it advances both the needs and success of the individual and the organization. If the intrapreneur is dis-enfranchised, there is a risk that they will take their ideas, equity and value-generated outside as either an entrepreneur or possibly a competitor. An intrapreneurial culture builds value across the workforce which is predicated upon giving people a voice in their own work. They need to feel empowered such that they have the scope to be able to contribute and make change.
4. Give People Ownership

To create an intrapreneurial culture, people must be empowered to make decisions – empowered to have ownership. In this respect, employees need to be encouraged to create solutions independently of the chain of command. This breads a fluid environment of rapid ideation and activity where individuals and teams are prepared to form views and make judgments, which ultimately create value for the business. The success of any venture is the summation of the decisions and thinking that contribute to it, whether from top down or the minute-by-minute decisions that go into all employees performing their tasks. In today’s knowledge economy, companies that foster independent thinking will better serve customers, build additional value and gain competitive advantage. Intrapreneurs are contributors.
5. Make Risk-Taking and Failure Acceptable

As intrapreneurs make decisions, they must be willing to take intelligent risks and, although fully prepared to be held accountable, not fear persecution or ridicule if they fail. Risk-taking and consequently failure are necessary components of progress that need to be accepted, understood and embraced by the organization. Failure is an important part of the innovation process, a signpost on a journey indicating which way not to turn (at that particular point in time). Organizations should therefore tolerate some failure and accept calculated risk taking. Not all ideas will produce successful new products, create more efficient ways of doing things, or lead to a strategic advantage. But all ideas can be a step towards each of these, either forwards, backwards, or pivoting to the side. In all failure there is success in producing a result; it may not be the result intended or desired, but it provides a learning experience allowing change to be made in order to generate a new outcome. Intrapreneurs must be prepared to take action on a daily basis in order to reach their desired goals; they need to be allowed to learn from every experience in order to progress. It is the responsibility of leaders and managers to develop a culture of learning from failure that moves on to the next, more informed attempt…otherwise known as experimentation.
6. Create a Learning Culture

Knowledge fuels and underpins innovation. It allows possibilities to be seen and explored; it informs and guides direction by providing context, insight and understanding which in turn lead to new thinking, ideas and solutions. In most cases, once people leave school or college proactive learning becomes sporadic at best. A core trait of highly successful individuals however is they have an un-quenching thirst for learning and personal development; they seek knowledge and insights in all their forms and actively pursue opportunities to augment. Not only is this through reading books, texts, articles or interviews in their given discipline; attending events, workshops or seminars; or searching and exploring content online, but also through interactions with others – everyday meetings and conversations, or time spent with individuals who can specifically build their understanding, i.e. people who’ve been there and done it before. This form of absorptive education is crucial for the development of intrapreneurs. Companies must imbue values of endless self-improvement, knowledge seeking and development through the definition, articulation and ongoing experience of their core values as a means of instilling these principles across the workforce.
7. Train Employees on Creating and Selling Innovation

One famously innovative company, Dreamworks Animations – the studio behind groundbreaking movie franchises including Shrek, Madagascar and Kung-Fu Panda – values and encourages creativity from all its employees, even support staff such as accountants and lawyers. According to Dan Satterthwaite, Head of Human Resources, they actively solicit ideas and regularly receive hundreds from staff across the business. Regardless of their defined roles, Dreamworks employees are specifically trained on how to pitch their ideas successfully, whether it involves creative input for a new movie or a food choice for the cafeteria. According to Satterthwaite: “The work that we do is so collaborative that we must have people who can not only sit at their desk and solve a problem, but then be able to articulate that solution to their supervisor and to the team.” All employees also have access to courses such as artist development, giving them the skills, knowledge and aptitudes that have enabled Dreamworks to repeatedly come up with the next blockbuster animated movie. This inclusive, high engagement culture has consequently led Dreamworks to consistently gain high employee satisfaction rankings as a great place to work. As Satterwaite puts it: “We challenge all our employees to be their own CEOs.”[i]
8. Support People With Ideas

Allowing and asking for workers to pitch their ideas is a core element in developing an ‘open innovation’, intrapreneurially-led culture. Employees have their fingers on the pulse of the customer and marketplace, and hence are best positioned to spot new trends and see opportunities early. They should therefore be encouraged to contribute to the innovation dialogue of the business. Companies may not only solicit general ideas, but also ask employees how they envision solving specific problems, or to provide suggestions about new strategies and tools before they’re implemented. It’s important for the organization not to solely rely on formal, structured communications channels to gather and transmit ideas around the business. In order to gain widespread participation, ad hoc and informal channels should also be adopted – idea boxes, email addresses, intranet sites and wikis are all tools for accumulating input. The majority of ideas generated through such channels are likely to be limited to incremental innovations, i.e. doing things the way they always have been but better, rather than real break-through, new direction innovation. Incremental innovation can drive rapid revenue growth and cost savings, but is unlikely to provide new business streams or strategic competitive advantage. For the latter, these programs must be deployed in unison with wider intrapreneurship agendas and the intrapreneurs supported to see their ideas through to fruition. When a solution is developed, the business must assist the intrapreneur on the ground by providing expert and executive-level resources and advice in order to increase the chances of success and reduce time from idea to execution.
9. Offer Room to Play Around

A practiced method for promoting intrapreneurship is to give individuals allocated time away from their ‘day jobs’ in order to encourage their creative processes and support them in the development of new ideas and initiatives. This has generally taken two forms: internal one-hit ‘hackathons’, and providing ongoing ‘flex time’ or ‘tinker time’ to experiment with new ideas and side projects. These schemes provide employees with the room to play around outside of the mental confines and stresses of their prescribed roles. The concept has become increasingly popular across innovation-led companies, notably within the tech space, including the likes of Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Google where their “20 Percent Time” has famously given birth to products including Gmail, Google Earth, and Gmail Labs. Set aside innovation time allows individuals and teams scope outside of their daily responsibilities to scout for and test different ideas and approaches, which creates intrapreneurial value without diminishing or distracting from the ongoing function and development of the core business. One of the challenges with ’20 Percent Time’ is that it can be unfocused and lacking output; to counter this, LinkedIn launched their ‘InCubator’ program in December 2012, essentially operating as an internal ‘startup’ incubator. Engineers can get 30 to 90 days away from their regular work to develop ideas of their own into products; the program is highly structured with rounds of judging, including a final round with founder Reid Hoffman and CEO Jeff Weiner, to filter ideas and extract the most viable and potentially profitable new products. [ii]
10. Create a Safe Place for Innovation

Removing short-term pressure for immediate returns and taking a longer-term view on innovation is critical to giving intrapreneurial ventures the space to develop and succeed. Basing management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals is the first principle of ‘The Toyota Way’, the tenets that have guided Toyota over generations to become the world’s second largest car manufacturer (Forbes Global 2000 2012 [iii]) and one of the most innovative companies around. The revolutionary Prius hybrid electric model took nearly 5 years and an estimated $1 billion to develop, without any real understanding or sense of the market opportunity, simply a vision that hybrids were the cars of the future [iv]. It has gone on to sell over 2.6 million cars worldwide [v]. The need to meet short-term defined goals or deliver immediate financial results limits the ability for the intrapreneur to experiment and push boundaries; it restricts decision making by placing confining barriers on solutions. That’s not to say that intrapreneurs should be left unfettered, but added value will increase exponentially as a culture of innovation and continuous, ongoing improvement is developed over time.
11. Celebrate and Reward Intrapreneurial Behaviour

Celebrate intrapreneurial successes and the people behind them – whether individuals or teams, it’s important to give credit where it’s due. Recognition and reward will act as significant affirmations for the intrapreneur and provide them with reasons to stay, continue to add value and to grow their contributions in the future. Financial incentives such as profit sharing on ideas will reward for the risk, time and effort put into making the endeavor a success but equally, if not more significant will be playing to the psychology of the intrapreneur through public acknowledgement and endorsement. Recognizing intrapreneurs and calling them out sends other employees a powerful signal that innovation and activation are assets greatly valued by the company. Intrapreneurs also need to see prospects for career advancement within the organization as a key motivation for embarking on and pursuing their endeavor. If they don’t, they’re liable to move externally taking their ideas and the value that they’ve accumulated with them. Clearly the organization has some protection rights in terms of intellectual property, but the business will lose a vital resource and innovative force. Each organization must consider its own culture and values to determine the mix of incentives that will have the greatest impact.
12. Encourage Cross-Discipline Projects and Collaboration

A great misconception of intrapreneurship is that it is an individual sport. For any intrapreneurial venture to succeed, collaboration is key to stimulate and refine innovation and to execute efficiently and effectively. Companies therefore need to proactively create, encourage and facilitate ongoing collaboration between individuals and teams. The only rule that 3M places on their 15% of innovation time for each employee is that they must share their insights with others. Collaboration brings people and resources together to generate a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts, through a collective approach. It improves problem solving by combining experiences to short cut the learning curve as to what works and what doesn’t, eliminating time and resource requirements. Individually our knowledge is limited, it is only by working together that we can extend this to gain a fuller comprehension of the situation and identify possible scenarios or solutions, leading to more thought-through and consequently robust and effective outcomes. Collaboration also facilitates ownership; by contributing to the conception and development of an idea, the collaborators are more empowered and committed to make sure that it actually happens and succeeds.
13. Encourage Networking and Knowledge Sharing

Just as direct collaboration with others is key to fostering intrapreneurship, creating and maintaining a network of active relationships with external and, critically internal ‘influencers’ and ‘connectors’ is essential to building awareness, advocacy and momentum for intrapreneurial initiatives. Influencers are those people in the business who, whilst not directly being empowered to make specific decisions, hold knowledge and opinions that are recognized, valued and sought by those that are. Connectors are quite simply the individuals who connect ideas, resources and people within a business; they act as facilitators and conduits for intrapreneurs to both attract and seek out the necessary support to be able to progress their projects. They may or may not be power holders per se, but critically they have the necessary knowledge and relationships to make things happen: they know who to talk to on issues, who the decision makers are, where there are ‘pots’ of resources, who knows who, and what the key components are for projects to get sanctioned. In both cases, building exposure to these groups for the company’s intrapreneurs will create the necessary environment for new concepts to be identified, supported, developed, approved and ultimately succeed. Companies need to seed, encourage and promote networking horizontally and vertically, internally and externally, in order to maximize these informal systems so that intrapreneurship can thrive.
14. Focus on How to Better Serve Customers

By placing the customer at the beginning, middle and end of all decision-making, the intrapreneur creates the context and stimulus to generate, refine and execute ideas and thinking that are more likely to succeed. Creativity in of itself is irrelevant if it is not viewed through the lens of the ultimate consumer, be that a piece of art, a product, or an idea. Creativity does not, and cannot exist in a vacuum. The ‘value’ of an idea is only derived when it is active, i.e. when it is creating something new and better from the perspective of a customer experience (whether an internal or external customer). For something to ultimately be better, the consumer has to see, feel and believe that it is in fact better. Creativity in action equates to innovation.
15. Be Sensitive to External Changes

Creating an organizational ‘nervous system’ that is sensitive to external changes allows the business to innovate faster. Intrapreneurs need to think and react at speed if they’re going to stay ahead of emerging trends and opportunities given the constant flux of today’s markets and ever increasing competition. The organization therefore needs to provide its intrapreneurs with the intelligence to move quickly. Part of this is creating an internal and external data framework that drives consumable and actionable insights. However pure data alone is never enough; intelligence should always be augmented by a network of human gatherers who actively gain insights through building networks and contacts in the market. In this respect, it’s important to consider how this intelligence is consolidated and disseminated across the business. In most cases, highly valuable knowledge is usually retained and guarded by individuals or teams without sharing; only by pooling this will the organization empower its intrapreneurs to create value and drive competitive advantage.
16. Shorten the ‘Yes Chain’

One of the biggest challenges for any intrapreneur or intrapreneurial venture is to navigate the idea or initiative through the maize of corporate decision making to get to the ultimate sources of power that can actually sanction the project or provide allocation of resources. As organizations grow in scale and complexity the ‘yes chain’ becomes more complex and layered, making it time consuming and draining to reach the necessary conclusions. More often than not, the idea will never make it to the final ‘yes’. Key to Steve Jobs turning around the fortunes of Apple when he returned in 1997 was walking into the Design Team’s workshop and seeing the array of prototypes on the shelves, exclaiming: “My God, what have we got here?”[vi]. Under the previous regime the vast majority, if any, of these concepts would never have been seen by the ultimate decision makers; yet this was the birth of the stream of ideas that led to the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. By shortening or circumventing the ‘yes chain’, companies can be more reactive to opportunities; drive innovation by activating a constant stream of ideas; and create a broad intrapreneurial culture leading to more engaged and empowered employees.
17. Create and Allocate a Funding Pot for Intrapreneurial Initiatives

One of the biggest hurdles for intrapreneurial ventures is the inability to secure the necessary resources, at the right time, in order to move the project forward. By carving out a funding pool specifically to be used to seed intrapreneurs, companies can enable greater traction for new ideas and thus increase the likelihood of creating new, sustainable business streams. In this respect, the business should act and apply the same principles and rigor as any investor would in the case of an entrepreneurial venture. Intrapreneurs must pitch their ideas and supporting business plans in order to access funding, and be held accountable throughout the development process. That said, the rule of ‘creating a safe place for innovation’ applies – don’t rush for immediate results by putting intrapreneurs under undue pressure to make quick returns; the greater opportunity for the parent business is to play a longer game to realise continuous value over time. It is important for all employees to understand the processes and criteria by which any funding is allocated so that they can align their pitches accordingly and that there is transparency and understanding when applicants are unsuccessful. This is a small investment for potentially significant gain, not only in terms of greater efficiencies, new revenue streams or developing competitive advantages, but in the wider benefits of fostering an intrapreneurial culture revolving around a more engaged, motivated and loyal workforce.
Intrapreneurship, alongside entrepreneurship, must be the solution to solving the enormity of the current global economic crisis. For companies to not only survive this environment but to be able to thrive, they need to proactively look to create and foster intrapreneurship and build an intrapreneurial culture across all employees. As Richard Branson puts it: “Perhaps the greatest thing about this form of enabled intrapreneurship is that often everyone becomes so immersed in what they’re doing that they feel like they own their companies. They don’t feel like employees working for someone else, they feel much more like … well, I think the only word to describe it is “belongers.” [vii]

[i] ‘Company values ideas, input from every employee – Dreamworks is believer in every employee’s creativity.’ By Anita Bruzzese, Gannett,

[ii] ‘LinkedIn Gone Wild: ’20 percent Time’ to Tinker Spreads Beyond Google.’ By Ryan Tate., December 6th, 2012.
[iii] Forbes Global 2000
[iv] ‘Toyota: The Birth of the Prius’. By Alex Taylor III. CNN Money, February 21st 2006.
[v] Wikipedia: Toyota Prius
[vi] ‘How did a British polytechnic graduate become the design genius behind £200 billion Apple?’ By Rob Waugh, The Daily Mail 20 March 2011.
[vii] ‘Richard Branson on Intrapreneurs.’ By Richard Branson, 31 January 2011.
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Mental Health in a Pre-Conscious Society

I would tend to agree.  There's an historical precedent for what's happening - look to the labour movement that accompanied the rise of the Industrial Economy.  We're entering the Knowledge Economy now, but applying outdated methodologies to this new model.  It clearly isn't working.
It's time to reevaluate whether we've identified the right problem.  The solution, I think, will take many by surprise.

Kwame McKenzie on the DSM-5


Mind Games

Inside the controversial new fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

This month marks the publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible psychiatrists use to diagnose mental illness. Since its inception in 1952, guidelines for diagnoses have become increasingly elaborate and controversial, and in the lead-up to the fifth version my colleagues and I followed the revision process closely. I knew that the proposed changes would likely increase the statistics for mental illnesses, yet again, and that this in turn might encroach on what we define as normal. Problems my profession had previously considered part of everyday living could be reclassified as pathological, and psychiatrists could be asked to treat issues previously thought to be outside our territory.
Even before the release, criticisms from outside of and within the American Psychiatric Association, the manual’s publisher, were fierce. DSM-5 workgroups have received over 13,000 comments and over 12,000 emails and letters since they started consultations in 2010. In June 2009, Allen Frances, chair of the task force for DSM-IV, suggested that the processes leading to DSM-5 were flawed, and that they ran the risk of “subtle” and “dangerous” unintended consequences such as new “false ‘epidemics.’” Worse, he continued, the work has “displayed an unhappy combination of soaring ambition and remarkably weak methodology.”
External criticism came from the British Psychological Society and a powerful coalition led by a faction of the American Psychological Association. In an October 2011 open letter to DSM-5, they argued that there was “insufficient empirical evidence” to support the new manual’s assertion that “all mental disorders represent underlying biological dysfunction.” The coalition also charged that “proposed changes to certain DSM-5 disorder categories and to the general definition of mental disorder subtly accentuate biological theory. In the absence of compelling evidence, we are concerned that these reconceptualizations of mental disorder as primarily medical phenomena may have scientific, socioeconomic, and forensic consequences.” The final consultation process only somewhat mollified the BPS: while some diagnoses were changed in response to widespread censure, the association maintains that the guidelines “lead to the risk of overdiagnosis and thereby potentially unnecessary and potentially harmful treatment with medication.”
Over-diagnosis is a real concern, and not limited to the new edition of the manual. According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, the most comprehensive study of mental illness in the United States, about 26 percent of the American population would have had some sort of psychological disorder in the past twelve months, if they were interviewed and diagnosed according to DSM-IV.
The goal of each manual, of course, is to help professionals do their jobs, make diagnoses, and identify proper treatments. Historically, the authors have taken a utilitarian approach, characterizing a mental disorder as “a clinically significant behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual and that is associated with present distress… or disability… or with a significantly increased risk of suffering.”
This definition presents two problems. The first is that the onus is on the psychiatrist to figure out where normal human behaviour ends and pathological behaviour begins. If a woman chooses a string of unsuitable partners and exhibits suffering and distress when each one leaves her, does her behaviour qualify as pathological? Does a child who cannot sit still in class, who is easily bored and becomes disruptive, have a mental illness?
The second issue is context. Disability is a possible criterion for a diagnosis, but with the caveat that it reflects a problem of functioning. Whether or not someone has trouble functioning depends on what he or she is being asked to do. If doctors rely on function to help them define mental illness, this could lead to two people with the same symptoms receiving different diagnoses. A man who keeps to himself, has difficulty communicating with new people, and cannot hold down a job because of this could be diagnosed with a mental illness. But the same man might not be diagnosed if he were rich enough not to need a job. In the latter case, no clear problem exists with functioning.
Psychiatric diagnoses are rarely objective: they are based on how doctors interpret what their patients say and do. Psychiatrists’ interpretations can be influenced by many factors, including their own drives and demons, their peers, their patients, and the many policy-makers and businesses, especially the pharmaceutical industry, that specialize in mental health issues. Changes in the way psychiatrists diagnose reflect how they see the world and what the world asks, or is happy, for them to do.
The increase in the number of DSM diagnoses may reflect a larger shift in society’s expectations. Out of the 400 medical students at my lecture, only one considered it reasonable to expect psychiatrists to return patients to a state of normal unhappiness. Everyone else thought we should strive for more. This suggests that the psychiatrists and psychologists who created the manual, as well as the North American society they serve, now expect to achieve something other than normal unhappiness. It also raises questions: If unhappiness causes distress and people do not want to be unhappy, does this make unhappiness an illness? And should the pragmatic DSM-5 offer guidance to professionals about how to diagnose and treat people who want to be happier?
Three major systems are used to make mental health diagnoses: International Classification of Diseases, published by the World Health Organization (and used by more professionals in more countries); DSM, the primary source in the US and Canada; and Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders, in part a hybrid of the other two but with culture-specific diagnoses. Because DSM is rule based—doctors make a diagnosis if the patient has certain symptoms—it is often preferred by researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulatory bodies, and health insurers.
The first official classification system in the US was developed for the 1840 national census. Governments around the world had started to take responsibility for mentally ill people, and states were building huge hospitals. Getting a handle on the possible volume and cost of this enterprise was important. The American government was not interested in complex ideas of the psyche or symptoms of depression. It was only interested in finding out who could not function in society and who might need looking after. To that end, there was only one category to choose from: “idiocy/insanity.”
By 1917, with mental hospitals full, the National Commission on Mental Hygiene and a forerunner of the American Psychological Association decided that a more detailed diagnostic system would prove helpful in deciding which hospital patients needed what kind of treatment. So they developed the Statistical Manual for the Use of Institutions for the Insane, which contained twenty-two diagnoses.
The development of psychiatry in Canada followed an almost identical trajectory, not least because major figures such as Dr. Clarence Hincks, who is credited with co-founding the Canadian Mental Health Association, worked at the national level in both Canada and the US throughout the first half of the twentieth century.
A major issue in North America was how to treat the large numbers of soldiers who had suffered shell shock during World War I. Having developed the necessary expertise, US psychiatrists later became involved in recruiting American soldiers for World War II. It was hoped that a more detailed assessment and characterization of their psychology would help to identify those who were unlikely to survive the rigours of war. A new diagnostic system, Medical 203, was published in 1943 and adopted by the US armed forces and the Veterans Administration.
The game changer came five years later. Previously, International Classification of Diseases had categorized only physical illnesses, but in 1948 it added a section on mental disorders, which could be used to diagnose anybody, not just those in institutions or the military. Rather than accept the ICD system, though, the US decided to define the mind for itself. In 1952, the APA produced an adapted version of Medical 203, the original Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
DSM-I listed ninety-five mental disorders. DSM-II was published sixteen years later with 130. Both editions were based on the theories of Sigmund Freud and other therapists who believed that present behaviours were caused by the mind trying to resolve problems from the past. The symptoms that constituted a disorder were not described in detail, and the manual’s diagnoses remained subjective. It soon got into trouble.
In 1971, a major international study attempted to measure the rate of schizophrenia in the UK and the US, and it showed that diagnosis rates were much higher in the US. Scandal followed in 1973, when American psychologist David Rosenhan published “On Being Sane in Insane Places” in the journal Science. He had sent eight healthy people to gain admission to twelve different American psychiatric hospitals by saying they heard voices. Once admitted, they acted normal and exhibited no symptoms. None of the hospitals detected the fake patients. All were diagnosed with a mental illness and were prescribed various medications as a condition of their release, even though they had presented identical symptoms.
Such challenges forced another rethinking of the manual, and the 1980 DSM-III aimed to improve the uniformity and validity of psychiatric diagnosis, and to sort out the problem of over-diagnosis of schizophrenia. Theories of pathology based on the thinking of therapists such as Freud were abandoned. Diagnosis was made on symptoms alone, and these were now more clearly defined. The book ballooned to 494 pages and listed 188 diagnostic categories; a 1987 revision, DSM-IIIR, grew to 567 pages and 215 diagnoses. But the new approach carried its own set of problems, and the chair of the DSM-III committee later criticized his own methods, saying that they had led to the medicalization of 20 to 30 percent of the population, who may not have had any serious mental problems.
In 1994, the APA decided it was time for a new, bigger edition (886 pages, 283 diagnoses) and an approach that considered more than just symptoms. DSM-IV advised psychiatrists for the first time to refrain from diagnosing an illness unless symptoms caused “clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” By allowing clinicians to rely more heavily on their judgment, the new methodology encouraged a more subjective interpretation of textbook illnesses. It also caused confusion, because equally severe symptoms may be more upsetting to some people than to others, but only the person who is distressed gets a diagnosis.
Identifying and defining mental illness has always been fraught. Though medical conditions may reflect discrete problems with clear pathology, psychiatric conditions can reflect many underlying issues. Putting them together and saying they constitute an illness only works if there is pathology to back it up, but the pathology of mental illnesses is not so clear cut. Medical science may work well for illnesses of the brain, where doctors can identify lesions that are causing specific symptoms, but not for illnesses of the mind, where often they cannot. And even if they could link pathology to symptoms of the mind, we would still have a problem, because diagnoses are not based on symptoms alone, but on the impact those symptoms have on how a person functions in the world. Reducing humans and human behaviour to symptoms without considering the complexities of existence—and the fact that we are past, present, and future beings with a social and historical context—may never produce a satisfying system for understanding mental problems.
When I trained back in the late 1980s, I was taught that psychiatry had little place in the grieving process unless the person was dangerously ill or suicidal. It was ill advised to prescribe tranquilizers, because they interfered with natural processes in the body and the mind for dealing with traumatic events. It also undermined the role of family and community in helping people through difficult times.
We were taught to refer the person to a grief counsellor and to only consider intervention for complicated or prolonged grief. If the person was still in bad shape at six months, then we would consider stepping in. The 1994 DSM-IV delivered a different message: the new cut-off for abnormal grief was two months. Now DSM-5 proposes that psychiatrists diagnose depression right after bereavement and offer drug treatment to those who are grieving and depressed. To meet the guidelines for any form of major depression, a patient need only exhibit symptoms for two weeks.
One member of a DSM-5 workgroup, Kenneth Kendler, has argued that bereavement is simply a negative life event. He suggests that people are resilient, and that for most of them major negative life events do not lead to depression, although in some they do. Depression after bereavement or job loss looks the same, so it makes sense to diagnose and treat it in those who are grieving.
But this argument misses a key point. Grieving is a personal and social process that reflects both how we deal with mortality and the way we demonstrate the bonds between us. Depression is part of the grieving process, a part of letting go as well as paying one’s respects. The emotions may look the same, but the context and the meaning may be different from a response to the loss of a job. What would it say about where we are as a society if people did not expect to be upset and depressed after the death of a loved one?
It’s not that people don’t expect to be distressed or even depressed, but that many think society will not wait for them to heal. They do not want to hold back a high-performing team. They complain that they do not have proper coverage in their jobs or their medical insurance for grief. They cannot afford the time off work, or they have little social support and so are open to pharmacological assistance. Others say that in a tight market they fear what will happen to their jobs if they take a prolonged leave.
Such expectations may say more about our culture than about the experts who developed DSM-5 or the psychiatrists who will use it. As one colleague has remarked, “Which doctor these days is going to say to someone who is depressed, grieving, and asking for antidepressants, ‘Go off and be distressed. It will be good for you’? ”
The British Psychological Society has criticized DSM-5 for being “clearly based largely on social norms, with ‘symptoms’ that all rely on subjective judgements… not value-free, but rather reflect[ing] current normative social expectations.” It has also expressed a major concern that “clients and the general public are negatively affected by the continued and continuous medicalisation of their natural and normal responses to their experiences… which demand helping responses, but which do not reflect illnesses so much as normal individual variation.”
Derek Summerfield, a renowned British psychiatrist who researches post-traumatic stress disorder around the world, questions the usefulness of sending in trained counsellors to diagnose and treat disaster victims, a practice he links to the guidelines set out in international classification systems such as DSM. PTSD first entered the manual as a concept in 1980. In a 2001 British Medical Journal article, he contended that labelling people with PTSD may do more harm than good: “To conflate normality and pathology devalues the currency of true illness, promotes abnormal illness behaviour, and incurs unnecessary public costs.” He argued that when people are expected to cope, they build resilience: treating them as “medicalised victims” instead of “feisty survivors” could undermine their skills to help themselves and others. Maybe we are relying too heavily on therapists to help fix what is, at bottom, a problem better addressed in a social context.
Historically, the DSM system has focused on the individual when much of the evidence points to the need for better understanding of the social forces that cause us difficulty and shape our world. That shaping of the world includes what the professionals consider a diagnosis, and what we expect our governments and doctors to do for us. If we believe that people have the right to not suffer—the flip side of the right to pursue happiness—we need to have a discussion about the best way to achieve that. Do we want to promote a society that can support people psychologically, or do we want to continue the process of diagnosing and treating the problems manifested in individuals?
There is some indication that the manual may soften its emphasis on the individual. The previous edition introduced the concept of relational problems, not as a full-fledged diagnosis, but as a contributing factor to it. In 2002, a research agenda for DSM-5 proposed adding relational disorders as a primary diagnosis to help therapists identify “persistent and painful patterns of feelings, behavior, and perceptions involving two or more partners in an important personal relationship.” Rather than blaming either party for the problem, the aim is to examine the relationship between the two and consider what could be done about it. Over the past ten years, a task force has pushed to include relational disorders in both the new DSM and the next revision of International Classification of Diseases. To that end, it has sponsored two national conferences and published two books. Relational disorders did not make the cut for DSM-5, but the new definition of relational problems is far more in-depth and precise than the previous version, and the task force hopes to include the new diagnosis in the next edition. This would mark a revolutionary shift away from the manual’s preoccupation with the individual.
If our minds are engaged in a relationship with the world, then mental illness is the fault of neither. It is the relationship between them that is problematic. Instead of focusing on one or the other, we should spend more time considering the interaction between the two and what can be done about it. The new DSM may help psychiatrists formulate more accurate diagnoses, but I worry that its focus on the individual may detract from a wider investigation into the issues. It pushes us toward labelling and blaming people for reactions to the situations they find themselves in, rather than helping us to understand the many factors that can contribute to mental illness. We need to understand both the individual and the environment, and how they interact, if we are truly going to improve the world’s mental health.