"I favor general use of the psychic-prison metaphor to free people from the traps of favored ways of thinking and to unleash their power and creativity."
--Gareth Morgan
"We cannot just remodel the prison. No, we've got to get out of it."
--W. Edwards Deming

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Reader feedback

I received a personal response to an earlier post to the DEN list. I have removed identifying information to protect the privacy of the sender. My reply is after:

----- Original Message -----
From: <anonymous>

Sent: Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Subject: Thank You

Thank you for posting your comments on Taylor and Deming of Wed, 2 Aug 06. It is most appropriate and directly on the money. I couldn't agree with you more. Your views and the article on "Social Elimination" are bang on for me at this time. As I face all of this and more because I've grown faster than the organization on Dr Deming's System of Profound Knowledge. I have even used this line on numerous occasion to date, "forgive them because they don't know what they are doing". At least someone understands.
Thanks again,


I appreciated receiving your email very much. It's nice to know that mine is not a lone voice in the wilderness.

I too have felt such social eliminative forces. [self-censored content]. I think I need to tread very carefully, however. I'm trying to speak in general terms and refer to unidentified others (spanning multiple employers) who I think were unfairly treated, without publicly suggesting details about [self-censored content]. Unfortunately, that's hard to do, and speaking out about workplace mobbing at all I think entails some amount of career risk. It's easy to become labeled a "difficult" or "angry" employee:


Just as some of Deming's views may come up against persuasive detractors (Hoopes was one I identified), so I think will some of Westhues' views. Gavin De Becker is one such candidate. His book, "The Gift of Fear", is a powerful one, as it uses genuine tragedies as examples. But his chapter, titled "Occupational Hazards", on dealing with so-called "problem employees" I find very problematic in itself. When juxtaposed with Westhues' book, "Eliminating Professors", the contrast is disturbing. De Becker's advice is to eliminate a problem employee sooner rather than later, almost at the first signs that he makes others uncomfortable, the reasoning being that this could be a prelude to violence. No mention is made of workplace situations such as unfair treatment or accusations, which could justifiably make someone angry, at least temporarily.

My current plan is, when I get time to pursue it, is to contrast further the perspectives of Westhues' and De Becker or at least the conclusions reached for courses of action re: the workplace. It is interesting to note that of DeBecker's clients, university administrations are among the biggest, the ones most requesting his company's services, while Westhues' five [most recent] books are primarily about workplace mobbing in university settings.

One thing that DeBecker advocates is the use of some deception when terminating an employee. I think that this may contrast sharply with the writings of Sissela Bok, who wrote "the trilogy": "Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life", "Secrets", and "Mayhem" (about violence). Bok, like De Becker, is very interested in causes of violence in society. I think that between the two of them, some particular suggestions for action are likely to be widely divergent, however. I have more reading to do to elucidate this, and that's another key area of research interest for me.


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