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Newspaper Column #7: Have Greens, Will Rain! – Part IV


As it appeared in the Sunday Standard, Botswana on  Sunday December 2, 2012 edition.

All is not what it seems

So was your answer similar to or different from that of your friends?

In last week’s discussion (Part III) we saw gradual increases in rainfall levels rose levels of vegetation as well.   Vegetation begins to grow in sustained ways.

Still, this is linear thinking.  Rainfalls cause vegetation.  As farmers, most of us know this.

However, the key to understanding persistent or stubborn issues such as water shortages is when we see causality as a cycle (Part II).  At this point, the thinking shifts from linear to being systemic.

So, I left you with a question to complete the process of thinking.

Should levels of vegetation (along with surface waters) increase, what do you think will be their consequence on rainfall levels?

Would we see declining levels of rainfall? Or could such levels increase (gradually) over time?  Which types of vegetation would encourage rainfalls?  And which ones don’t?

Check if you got the following answer.  I am sure you did!

This is a story over time.

As more plants consume water and we see vegetation grow over time, we will begin to see a genre of plants that are broadleaved.  As more of such plants thrive on the lands, such plants transpire water vapour into the atmosphere.

The more persistent are those levels, the higher the likelihood of levels of atmospheric moisture rising across the region.  However, one plant, one hose-pipe or one dam does not make that change happen.  Instead one would have to imagine, miles and miles of such vegetation happening across the region.

20121202Picture1

What do you think will be the result?

The higher atmospheric moisture now begins to encourage precipitation and eventually rainfall.  Hence my title here, “have greens will rain”.

Positive Cycle

For rains to fall from above, it needs to figure a way to move from the earth’s surface to the atmosphere.  Surface waters and vegetation when they come together facilitates that process.  We as humans are parts of that instrument.  The result will be more levels of rainfall over time.

Additionally, as more plants grow out their life cycle, at the end of their life, they decompose and add nutrients to the earth.  This is key in helping the soil transform gradually from sandy to become loamy.  The land learns to become greener.  Potentially, we could even see the desert turn on its back.

As the supply of available water increases, cost of using it, will usually come down.  The reverse (Part I) is also true.  When the supply diminishes, the cost goes up.  Unfortunately, we will not be able to push these prices down, till we figure a way to increase its supply.  The answer can start in our backyards.  Literally, for everyone.

So, increased levels of vegetation, raises the levels of rainfall.  That’s your cycle (see Picture 2)!  In this case we refer to them as virtuous cycles.

20121202Picture2

The reverse is also true.

Negative Cycle

When plants do not consume water (see also Picture 2), over time, they gradually learn to do the opposite of all of the above, as they fight or adapt to stay alive.

These adaptations may include developing layers of wax or hairs on the leaves and stems or shrinking the size of its leaves to become thorns.  This is intended to prevent water losses so as to keep the water for themselves. This runs contrary to the nature of water, which is to flow.  These plants have adapted the inherent nature of water for its survival.  It does so at the expense of the system (or we say it has become individualistic).

The ultimate drought-resistant plant is cactus that grows in the hearts of most deserts of the world.  Think what you see when you crack a cactus open.  We see trapped water.  The little water it takes in, it keeps it for itself.

When they begin to appear in our environment, it suggests that the soil on the surface has long lost its ability (to build loamy soil) to support sustained vegetation.  Such variety of plants begin to thrive but causes rainfall levels to decline.  This is since, they do not transpire.  This causes the land to become even more dry which in turn encourages more of such plants.  This latter view is often hidden from us until we surface this thinking as a cycle.  Unlike earlier, these cycles are now becoming vicious in nature.

These vicious cycles do two things.

If we are not watching it, these cycles cause the issue to recur.  They bring the problem back defying our efforts to correct it and do so with greater intensity in each iteration of the cycle.  They typically throw our action plans off their courses.  We see project implementation efforts as if they were failing.

These are what we see on the surface.  That is the self-seeking nature of these cycles of causality.  All is not what it seems.

Winning the Cycle

So how would we deal with such systemic directions and expect to win it?

To take care of the problem of water shortages, we would then have to take care of the water cycle.  The whole cycle.  Not parts of it.

What we saw here today is while your household may start greening your backyard, the combined effect of doing this collectively can be very powerful for a region on both the causes and consequences of rainfall for the region.  This answer is not for just one country.  We need to figure a way not to give up or be afraid to reach this out there in the region to everyone.  I am sure you see that!

Given these, what would you say are the implications of some typical action plans that we make (and this happens to all countries), on such a cycle?  Such as:

  • Recommending the growth of drought-resistant varieties of crops?
  • Producing livestock that depend on greens?
  • Production of brews?
  • Drilling or deepening of boreholes?  Dam construction?

In each instance, would you see the rainfall levels increase or could it decrease over time?  Would water table levels increase or decrease? What would be their consequences on growing of crops, on food security, growing of raw materials and in diversifying and developing a manufacturing base in the country?  On employment?

Well, I am sure; you and your friends will figure these questions out!

This and their impact on the economy will be the subject of discussion next week in the final part of this series of the column on “Have Greens, Will Rain!”  Till then have a lovely week discovering and learning!

This is the 4th segment of a five part series of this article.  Each part will build on the earlier article to an eventual conclusion.  We invite you to participate in the column as well as do your ‘own homework’ – searching and discussing the issue to build your own conclusions.  Next month, we look at HIV, its causes and its effects.

Ms Sheila Damodaran, an international strategy development consultant for national planning commissions welcomes comments at sheila@loatwork.com.  For upcoming programmes, refer to www.loatwork.com/Senior_Leadership_Introduction.html.

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Newspaper Column #6: Have Greens, Will Rain! – Part III


As it appeared in the Sunday Standard, Botswana on  Sunday November 25, 2012 edition.

What goes around comes around. The Good and Bad.

 Today we move to the more exciting bits of this series!

We will uncover the vicious cycle causing water tables to decline and learn how they contribute to growing aridness to seeing the economy turn around.

The take-away from last week was if we take care of this long-term position, it will take care of the fast-changing short-term worlds for us (food security to household incomes).   We ignore this; the cycle brings the problem back harder and faster.  But such long-term positions do not happen by accident.  There is a reason.

I left you with a question at the end of the article.

What is the circle of causality that is pushing the water table down?

What did you see?  Perhaps you saw different versions of it.  Looking carefully, they were not quite circles but were straight-line thinking.   Linear thinking makes up parts of circular causal thinking.

So, let’s take a few examples.

Sometimes I get, the water table is down because our consumption levels have gone up.  This is because population numbers and therefore its related activities have gone up.  And this is because … and sometime we stop here.  In half-jest I proceed by adding, that ‘while fertility rates are up we are not dying fast enough’.  At this point, the class roars into laughter.  Mostly at the ludicrous reasoning.

We also know this is so, because we know of countries, whose population numbers and life expectancy are way higher than ours, yet do not see declining water table levels (see Picture 1).

Tips

So, here’s yet another tip.  Any causal factor used in a vicious cycle has to stand the tests of space and of time.  The above reasoning has not withstood the test of space.

At other times I see, water tables are going down because the rainfall levels are going down, and rainfall levels are going down because global warming levels are up.  Global warming levels are up because ….

Usually at this point, I would pause the group and question it.  Does this line of reasoning suggest that before the advent of global warming, while the water tables may have been higher then, than it is today, were its levels rising with each year.  Which means to say the water tables in 1960s or 70s were higher than it was in the 50s?

Stillness settles in the room.  Sometimes, it is because we do not know if this is true, mostly because we have not seen the data.  But again, it sounds like another ludicrous reasoning.  The reason is not passing the test of time.

So, what have been your thoughts about the cycle?  Had it looked like the above?  Not to worry.  It happens to the best of us.

So, what then is the circle of causality that is causing the water table to go down?  To uncover the cycle, we would need to learn to watch reality like watching a movie – as if without shutting our eyes.  Snapshots will not do.  So here we go.

Watching the reality like watching a movie

Rainfall is a part of the story.  Yes?  As more rains fall on the earth’s surface, they run off into rivers and seas.  And where they fall on land it sinks through the soil and seeps downwards.   As they do so, they help to recharge underground aquifers which in turn help to cause the water tables to rise.

The reverse is also true.

The less rains fall, the less there are seepages and recharges the water tables fall instead.  Here we have come back to last week’s question.  But notice; be it whether it is good news or bad news, the causality is the same.  So for now, we will continue watching the cycle as if it is positive.

Let’s go back to where we left off the cycle.  When the water tables rise, what does that lead to happening next?

Here, imagine the water tables across the region rising through the underground soil.  As they do so, we see more moisture in our soils and as they emerge through the surface, we would now have surface water.  They could either become a pond or your dam.  The more the underground water rises, the bigger the pond.  And so is the reverse.

What happens when surface water rises?  Just as when water levels drop in our dams, we impose water restrictions.  Well, we may say, this time we allow consumption of water … by humans, animals and plants.

When we do not have enough water, notice who we take off the list first?  Did you say plants?  That’s usually true or we introduce plants that resist droughts.  Then we try by as much as possible to share the available water resources between humans and animals.

To continue the thinking, we take it off from where we see plants consume water.  Should we leave them out of the story; it will be less than about the whole.  So, let us say plants consume water.  What happens to the cycle next?

We are now more than half-way around the cycle.  Remember we started with rising rainfall levels?  And we have now reached partway around the cycle to increased vegetation (see Picture 2).

When the vegetation increases over time alongside with surface water, what do you think will be their impact on rainfall levels in the next cycle?

These will be the subject of discussion in Part IV of this series in next week’s column “Have Greens, Will Rain!”  Well, I am sure; you and your friends will enjoy closing the cycle!  You may notice different responses along gender or age lines.  Try it out and notice.

Would rainfall levels decline?  Or could they increase?  What do you think?

Thinking ahead, what will be the impact of this causality on economic diversification?

Don’t forget the tips!

Till then have a lovely week discovering and learning!

This is the 3rdof a five part series of this article.  Each part will build on the earlier article to an eventual conclusion.  We invite you to participate in the column as well as do your ‘own homework’ – searching and discussing the issue to build your own conclusions.

Ms Sheila Damodaran, an international Strategy Development Consultant in the use of systemic thinking for managing national persistent issues, welcomes comments at sheila@loatwork.com.  For upcoming programmes, refer to www.loatwork.com/Senior_Leadership_Introduction.html.

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Newspaper Column #5: Have Greens, Will Rain! – Part II


As it appeared in the Sunday Standard, Botswana on  Sunday Nov 18, 2012 edition

Cycle?  What cycle?

In Part I last week, we were concluding that the water tables in the region were possibly declining.

This series of articles in November is a dedication to this subject.

It explores issues of primary industry (raw material) development to water consumption choices and their effects on families, the nature and the economies.  In short, it underscores the story of diversification of any economy.

All of this will be discussed as we take a trip around the water cycle in this series of the column.

Water tables even if they are underground are part of the water cycle, originating when part of the rain that falls on the Earth’s surface sinks through the soil and seeps downward to become groundwater.  Groundwater will eventually flow out of the ground, discharging into streams, springs, lakes, or the oceans, to complete the water cycle.  (See Picture 1)

When asked how high is the water table and how it has behaved over time, most of us picked Pattern C (refer to last week’s article.  See also red line here in Picture 1 below (refer to ‘Long-term depletion’, the line marked AB)).

That it has shown a general downward trend.

Such long-term trends become evident when we study past data spanning several decades.  They usually escape the best of us when our attention is on what’s happening today (refer to the lines CD).

Here’s the implication of seeing such patterns over time.

The long-term depletion worsens the position of each short-term variation.  We now have a persistent issue but is working its way to the levels of a crisis in the long-term.   Such issues usually resist change and defy our best planning and implementation efforts beyond the short-term.  It is a costly management process.

And if we imagined the water cycle, it would have begun to show signs of weakening intensity.  The local weather conditions could see the likes of droughts or even floods.  Of course, these conditions would reverse with long-term augmentation or increase.

In systemic thinking, we pay attention to these long-term positions rather than the short-term.  This is because of the following reasons:

  • It is these long-term positions that determine what happens in our day-to-day realities.  Ignore them and the realities get worse.  These will help us become more realistic in our planning and implementation efforts;
  • The reasons that cause the long-term position are often very different from those that cause short-term positions; and so,
  • When we find those reasons, they will present areas that will allow us to turn the situation around.  For good.  It saves our resources.

Boiled Frog

To get there, it helps that the country as a whole learns to see and understand such patterns together, with the disciplined eye of a hawk.  All of the time.  Should we not, then like a boiled frog, it would lead us to deeper crisis unawares.  We become the boiled frog instead.

And I left you with a question.  How do we know for sure, that the water tables are indeed declining?

I am sure you have figured this one out.

You might say, well it is when we notice farmers dig their bore-holes deeper.  And they do so, from time to time.  You are right!  This is an indication that the water table for his side of the land is behaving more like Pattern C and as the pattern continues to unfold the land becomes drier (a crisis is looming).

Does anyone know how deep some of the bore-holes in the Kgalagadi and possibly Namibia are?  They did not start that way.  They became that way.

The reverse, however, is true for the forests in the Amazon.  Both are happening at the same time each with its deliberate direction and goal.  This is what we, otherwise, call reality.

Uncovering the Cycle

However, most management concepts did not clarify that our straight-line goals are not designed to fight trends such as AB.  They are designed to fight the shorter-term trends like CD.  The latter, is an important view of the military and the fire-fighters.  Crisis management.

Now, if the long-term position is true, i.e. if the water tables are going down, then we have a circular causality in our hands.   This requires very different management tact.  We would need to uncover the elements of the cycle to address these long-term positions.

Therefore, rather than ask what we should do about it, the next question here is what is causing the water tables to go down?

Meaning to say, if we say the water table is going down (in the long term), what is causing that?  And in turn what is causing the cause?  And so on.  Think cycle.  Get the idea?

And remember, even when you think you have got to the “root cause”, in this work, we say, even the root cause has a cause.  Nothing exists without a reason.   It is whether we see the reason or we don’t.  In short, the 5Whys methodology does not work for persistent problems.

Do not forget to also go the other way in the cycle!  Should the water table go down, there are consequences.  Yes?  And then what are the consequences of the consequences?

Here’s a tip.  Should the circle not close in itself, then it is not the ‘right’ circle of causality.  Start again but with a different set of reasons.  This is a trick we use, before we understand more deeply the tools of this work.

Go ahead and try it!  There is something inherent about wanting to see vicious circles, as hard as it feels like to get there; it captures our curiosity and intrigue.

So, … what is the circle of causality that is causing the water table to go down?

Well, I am sure, you and your friends will keep trying and enjoy getting there!  This will be the subject of discussion next week in Part III of this series of the column on “Have Greens, Will Rain!”

Till then have a lovely week discovering and learning!

This is the 2nd of a five part series of this article.  Each part will build on the earlier article to an eventual conclusion.  We invite you to participate in the column as well as do your ‘own homework’ – searching and discussing the issue to build your own conclusions.

Ms Sheila Damodaran, an international Strategy Development Consultant in the use of systemic thinking for managing persistent issues at regional and sectoral levels, welcomes comments at sheila@loatwork.com.  For upcoming programmes, refer to www.loatwork.com/Senior_Leadership_Introduction.html.

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Newspaper Column #4: Have Greens, Will Rain! – Part I


As it appeared in the Sunday Standard, Botswana on  Sunday Nov 11, 2012 edition.

How high is the Water Table?

One of my favorite subjects of the work that I do here is working with the water cycle.

Well, all of us learned about it in school.  In Grade 5.

Evaporation leads to rainfall.  Rainfall leads to seepage and runoffs.  Runoffs into rivers and lakes lead to evaporation, and so on.

Except the one difference in a systemic approach is it recognizes that this cycle is not a static process.

This means they do not remain active at the same levels of intensity over time.  The intensities are dynamic.  We did not learn about this fact in school.

And therefore, the cycle has the potential to either cause the rainfall levels to increase or decrease over time.  These trends are not clear in the short-term.  The patterns become distinct over longer periods of time, usually in years.  But the shift is definitely happening.

We call it by different names including the likes of global warming today or periods of draughts or seeing unreliable rainfalls or when we have periods of more than average rainfalls.  Their persistent behaviour over time is in effect the consequence of the water cycle in silent action.

It is silent because we do not see the water cycle directly as it is unfolding before our eyes.

Cycles can go two ways.  They can either reinforce positively or negatively.

The next four articles in November is a dedication to this subject and it explores a range of issues from primary industry production to crop or raw material production to dairy and cattle production, water availability, water consumption choices and their effects on families, the nature and the economies.  All of this will be discussed as we take a trip around the water cycle.

Where I came from, in Singapore, we typically have quite a bit of rainfall and so; it was not as much an issue in my mind, until of course when we experience floods there.

Singapore sits right on the equator and so year round, it enjoys a hot and humid tropical weather.

The nature of water is to flow

The inherent nature of water is to flow.   The more it flows out naturally, the more it comes back to us.  Naturally.  When it is trapped, it dries up.

This is a subject that has become dear to my heart as I spent more time in the country.

And then something struck me.  That the excess of or lack of rainfall is not only as a result of the terrain.  There was also the inter-play of the reinforcing nature of these water cycles.  Its intensity to reinforce positively or negatively will vary with its surroundings.

A case in point is the spread of the forests in the Amazons of South America.  These span to the same latitude as that of Botswana.

[Insert picture of world map here – see Picture I below]

Chicken and egg

Question.  Is the Amazon green because it has more rainfall?  Or does having more greens cause more rainfall in the Amazons?  Or does it happen because both exist together?  Like the chicken and egg.  Both would need to be there for them to reinforce their continued growth.

One way to appreciate the existence of the cycle as a causality of rainfall levels is to take an issue that is related to it and watch its behaviour for persistence.

If it is persistent, we would see the peaks peaking higher or the troughs digging deeper each time.  This requires us to plot the past behaviour of the issue on an x-y axis.  The X-axis is always time.  The Y-axis plots the levels of its behaviour.

Should there be a persistent decline or incline on these graphs, then we know that these cycles or circles of causality are definitely at play.

So for the purpose of this exercise, we will take a factor.  Let us say the level of the water table.

What would you say has been the behaviour of this factor, in this part of the world over a forty-year period?  The further into time we plot these behaviours, the more it becomes clearer to us the persistent nature of these issues.

Would you say the water table levels have remained constant for the past forty years (Refer to Picture 2, Pattern A)?  Or would you say it has increased during the same period (Pattern B) or would you say, it looks more like Pattern C, i.e. the water table has declined over the years?

Which pattern would you pick?

[Insert Graphic 2 here]

Did you pick Pattern C?  Most of us do so, resoundedly.  I have not had a dissenting view to that choice since I had been doing these programmes.

Now, if pattern C is true, then we have a circle of causality in our hands and it is causing problems to recur right here on this land.  To take care of the problem of water shortages, we would have to take care of the water cycle.  The whole cycle.

But before that.  How can we say for sure that it is Pattern C?

Keep wondering.  This will be the subject of discussion in Part II of this series of the column on “Have Greens, Will Rain!”.  I am sure you will be listening to what we see and hear around us every day as you figure this question out.

Till then have a lovely week of discovery and learning!

This is the 1st of a four part series of this article.  Each part will build on the earlier article to an eventual conclusion.  We invite you to participate in the column as well as do your ‘own homework’ – searching and discussing the issue to build your own conclusions.

Ms Sheila Damodaran, an international Strategy Development Consultant in the use of systemic thinking for dealing with persistent issues at regional or sectoral levels, welcomes comments at sheila@loatwork.com.  For more information, refer to www.loatwork.com.

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Newspaper Column #3: Is unemployment, the real problem? The Story of Supply of Labour – Part III


As it appeared in the Sunday Standard, Botswana on  Sunday Nov 4, 2012 edition.

Labour is a cost

It can assist to generate revenue but it is firstly, a cost.  When we add them up, it can rack up into billions of dollars.  Easily.

Hence a situation of ‘that we have labour’, will not be enough reason why ‘jobs will be created’.  The jobs need to be paid.  When the money dries up, including borrowings, so does the job.  This will happen in the same way for any country.

The supply of labour however remains unchanged.  They are either more who are employed or more who are unemployed.

Next, think bottleneck.

When the supply of labour exceeds the demand for it, the demand becomes the ‘neck’ of the bottle.  It narrows the uptake of the supply. Competition and waiting for jobs are the inevitable consequences of the bottleneck.  As we release the bottleneck competition disappears.  And so would unemployment.

We would therefore require solutions on both sides of the ‘neck’ to solve the problem of persistent unemployment.

In the past two week’s editions of this column, we introduced two factors that influence persistent unemployment.  Should we create new jobs (i.e. there is demand for labour), unemployment goes down.  Should however, the numbers of births and immigration (i.e. the supply of labour) go up over time, so does unemployment.

We also discussed that the ability of sectors to create jobs is influenced by the health of profit margins of three interrelated industries, i.e. the primary, secondary and tertiary industries.   We discussed when the primary industry grows; they help to grow the secondary industries which in in turn help to grow the tertiary industries.

At this point, unemployment becomes resolved.  Hard as it may sound, it is a solution we cannot ignore.  The easy way out, would lead us back in, one way.  Back to the problem.

In today’s edition of the column, we explore the story of the supply side of unemployment and its solution.

This becomes important to help us see solutions that are digging us in deeper into the problem.  It will be ironical that what we had hoped will help the situation could actually be making them worse.  Things become better before they become worse.  At that point, we would have a situation spiralling out of hand.

A case in point is, if there are more of us than there are jobs available, skilling people without creating jobs will not make unemployment go away.  I know we do not like to hear this.  And neither do I.

Jobs do not stay vacant.  They are going to others.  And yes, while the best man may win, there is another man (or woman) out there.  That is the point.

If the problem does not budge despite resources, then it is a sign that all what we have done was to apply a solution to the consequence of the problem but not to its cause.  To deal with the cause, we would need to pull ourselves away from the fire to notice where the gas pipe is coming from.  A fireman cannot help us at this stage.

Supply of Labour

What causes the increase in the supply of labour?

One might say, well that’s easy.  It is caused by migration.  Well, that is certainly true.   For the short term.  Migration is just that.  Sometimes they are in.  And sometime they are out.

Sustained long-term increase in the supply of labour is caused by the rates at which locals add births to the population numbers within the country.   This impact is pre-determined.  It cannot be changed,  its effects are not felt immediately but they were set into motion twenty years ago.  They are felt twenty years later when the babies have grown into young adults and are about to join the employment pool of the country.

We therefore do not connect the problem to the cause since they are both distant in time and space from each other.  And when we do not see this relation, we disregard the cause and take the easier way out.  We look at immigration.  This happens for any country.

And so, if unemployment is persistent today, then this is an indication that numbers of those born twenty to thirty years ago and have now joined the labour pool, had been pushing up slowly but steadily.   Yesterday, we rejoiced each birth in our families.  Of course, we were not watching their total consequences on the nation for tomorrow.  Well, not yet.

As a nation, how many persons have we added to the pool of supply in the past forty years?  Yes, it may feel late to ask such a question.  It is meant as a way to face reality.

Let us say, should we produce 5,000 children per month, and that makes it 60,000 babies born in a year, then we can reasonably expect that twenty years from now (and 1.2 million people later), when they grow up, we would need to be preparing for an additional 60,000 jobs (given gender equality) for that cohort.

This is in addition to those already employed prior to them.  If we are seeing 30,000 retirees, we are still looking at creating an additional 30,000 or more new jobs for the cohort.  And do not forget these 60,000 do not stay at producing another 60,000.  Yes?  How many will they produce in ten to fifteen years from now?  That will become tomorrow’s reality.

How much would an additional 30,000 jobs (for that year) cost us?  Don’t forget the other years and other employees.

Who created the children?  You are right.  We did!

Who will create the jobs for them?

Creating Jobs

In a recent project on unemployment in a country, we saw the population of 35 year olds and younger, ballooned six folds in a thirty-year period.  On the other hand, job creation had not risen by anywhere near as much.  The population had disregarded these economic factors.  Of course, we can say, economic and bedroom choices do not always mix.

At rates of six-fold increases, just that layer of the population would quite easily add over another 1/3 million persons by the next generation.  These are figures before immigration.

So what is happening?

In short, we are now attempting to “fight” the problem somewhat oblivious to these realities. We saw the fire. But not what caused it! We had hoped that the supply of labour could influence the demand for labour. But that is just not economics.

Still, I wonder if, as citizens, we can totally absolve ourselves from not understanding these figures and how they play up in our everyday lives.   What do you think?

At some point we would no longer be able to shut our eyes to this.  The reality would soon wake us up, as as we see our children stay unemployed.

Have we come back full circle here?  Who designed this circle of causality?  Is this unique for one country?

What should we do today?

As citizens should we know what these numbers look like for the country?

Understanding this trends, profoundly changes the game plan in many ways.  Firstly, it allows the problem to be solved where it started (the community), not where it ended (government).  There is leverage here, as it allows the greatest changes to happen with the least amount of effort.

I have tended to believe that should citizens understand these numbers, they would become clearer at steering the country out of this problem.  Even by themselves.  These may include making choices such as coming up to speed in ways to create jobs rather than wait for jobs to be created.  Or consider seeking employment outside the country.  It is the go-getter attitude by such individuals that will eventually help draw revenue to any country and themselves.

That’s for today.  How may we better prepare ourselves for tomorrow?

Families are key

We could actually become better at matching birth with job creation rates.  Knowing these trends, may free us as families, to consider channelling resources to the building of the primary industries of the economy.  This is a strong system of production of raw materials for all levels of the economy.  Farmers, and growers of raw materials, who see this impact beyond putting food on their table for their family, are beginning to pay attention to this systemic reality.  Production is now greater than consumption in the country.

When they do so, the family is now taking a step towards ensuring that jobs are more likely to be created at other levels of the economy, for the children we produce.  We may find that as more resources are allocated to primary industry production (and less to child production) we become better at learning to manage our population numbers more in line with the capacity of the country to produce jobs for our children.  There is an order in which causality happens.

Unemployment, at that point, stops becoming a problem.

How do you see this issue?  Given the above, do we need to understand the picture that is happening for the country today?  What’s stopping families allocating resources to primary industries?

Go forward another twenty years from now.  What trends would you like to see?  For our families?  The economy?  And our country?  For employment?

Hope this inspires discussion amongst your family and friends for ways you see us resolve this issue.

English: US Whig poster showing unemployment i...

English: US Whig poster showing unemployment in 1837 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Newspaper Column #2: Is unemployment, the real problem? The story of Demand for Labour – Part II


As it appeared in the Sunday Standard, Botswana on  Sunday Oct 28, 2012 edition.

Supply of Labour

Industries (be they by locals or foreigners) do not exist for the sole purpose of employing citizens.  Hard as it may be to accept this point, it really is not that difficult to see the reason.

What is harder to see is an unemployed economy will affect the growth of his industry.  Not immediately.  But eventually it will.  Think most political revolutions. It is a sign of a vicious circle.

In last week’s edition of this column, we uncovered two factors that influence persistent unemployment in any country.   These were:

  1. The rates of growth of demand for labour (by employers) vs.
  2. The rates of growth of supply of labour (by employees)

As the supply of labour (rising birth and migration rates) persistently exceeds demand, unemployment grows.  This does not mean that our attempts at correcting the problem will not be successful.  They will not be successful for the long-term.

On the other hand, as the demand for labour (number of new jobs created) persistently exceeds the supply, unemployment would decline (and literally disappear by itself).

This week, we explore the demand – a side commonly used by most of us when focussing on the problem of unemployment.  In the next edition of this column, we will get around to supply.

But before we continue, what does the picture of growing demand for labour look like?  We might say, well, that is obvious.  We would see companies and industries recruit and persons as employees of their organizations.  That’s where most of us would stop.

But that would not be quite enough here.  We should see increasing numbers employed for the long-term.  Possibly even for decades.  And it happens primarily in the private sector.  They are key. If these three conditions do not happen, then real and deliberate growth in demand for labour has not quite happened.  Yet.

But what influences the demand for labour to grow consistently (rather than ad-hoc)?

It would require industries and the country to post a healthy growth of its income margins or profits.  Year-on-year.

Margins / Profits = Level of Revenue Earned – Level of Costs Incurred

This difference needs to grow sustainably.  Where revenues grow and costs decline, the industry is well positioned to create new jobs each year and pay for higher wages in other years.  The reverse is also true.  When the margins are negative, we would face sustained unemployment.

What would cause the margins to grow sustainably for any industry?

Asking this question is deliberate in helping the mind steer itself to the inevitabilities.

Does sustainable growth of margins happen because we are able to apply “do more with less” strategy, really well?  Or, is it because sales have picked up for that industry.  Well, yes, partly.

However, here’s the inevitable.

The extent to which we see sustained growth of margins depends on the extent margins or profits grow across ALL the three levels of industries in any economy, i.e. primary, secondary and tertiary industries.  These three share a very tight systemic relationship!

As we take care of the whole, not parts of the economy, the nation grows.  We all know that.  AndI know we can turn this knowledge around with our hands and feet.

So what causes sustained systemic growth of all three types of industries?

Think tomato sauce.  The cost of manufacturing and eventually retailing that sauce would depend on the cost of the transport and distribution systems (secondary industries) needed to transport the raw materials to the factory or retail sites as well as the cost of producing the raw material itself (i.e. from seed to fruit by the farming industry).

The transport industry, in this regard is secondary to manufacturing while farming of tomatoes is primary to both transport and manufacturing.

Should however, the costs of the primary and secondary industries for each unit of product produced increase over time, the  tertiary industries would not be able to reverse those costs, much less grow without incurring further costs and will have their work cut out for them to stay afloat, much less see their margins grow in sustained ways.  That is the reality.  The experience will otherwise be like juggling balls.  It will be hard to take our eyes off them because we do not know when they will fall.

When these costs are passed on to the customers or citizens, it makes it harder for them to find ways to fund continued private sector development efforts.  Here we have now come full circle.

In most cases, the primary industry refers to raw material production, in particular crop production.  As we grow our raw materials (as we have achieved with sorghum production), its secondary (farm and brew trucks) and tertiary (brew production and retail) industries will begin to grow as well.

Just as the white farmers in South Africa in the primary industries (vegetables, fruits, dairy and livestock production) have done for the Chinese and the Indians in the secondary and tertiary industries there (as well as here in major supermarket chains).   This relationship, however, did not happen overnight.  It took almost one hundred and fifty years in the making in South Africa (and not forgetting two centuries before that in India).

So for a nation to thrive (not survive), think the root of a plant.  When the root thrives, so does the plant.  When it dies, so will it and the other healthy roots around it will suffocate the plant out.  Removing the top of the plant will not cause it to go away.  The root will bring it back.

I am sure you see it!  When the profit margins do not grow for all of the three industries, the number of new jobs created does not grow.  Instead, unemployment grows.What is the implication of these to employment, you ask?

Where are we today as a nation on this graph?

Which industries are dominant for the nation?  Which ones are not?  Which industry do you see as driving the others?  Would you like to be a part of or lead from that seat?  I am sure you can!

What would cause the health of primary industry or production of raw materials to grow over time?  This will be the subject of another column.  But till then, I wish you, happy thinking and discussing.

So is unemployment the real problem or could it just be the tip of another problem? The iceberg. How do you see this issue?  Go forward another twenty years from now.  What could these trends look like then?  Could this possibly affect the sovereignty of a nation?  For any nation?

The 3rd instalment in this three part series of this article will appear in the next edition of this column.  It will explore the supply side of the equation of labour and unemployment.   Watch this space.

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Newspaper Column #1: Is unmployment the real problem – Part I


As it appeared in the Sunday Standard, Botswana on  Sunday Oct 21, 2012 edition (maiden print).

This is the 1st of a three part series of this article.  Each part will build on the earlier article to an eventual conclusion.  We invite you to participate in the column as well as do your ‘own homework’ – searching and discussing to build your own conclusions.

When unemployment persists (hard as it is to admit it is happening)

Persistent unemployment, in any country is a consequence of two factors.

The rate of increase of supply of labour (birth rates from twenty years ago) relative to the rate of increase in the demand for labour (job creation rates of today).  In jest, it is a mismatch of rates of child creation of the past vs. rates of job creation today.

Should the rate of demand for labour exceed supply year on year; we would have full employment of the locals and perhaps be able to employ foreigners as well.  However, should supply of labour persistently outgrow demand; we would now have a classic case of persistent unemployment.

When we, as citizens, learn to watch these two behaviours of change as a nation over time then we should expect to resolve the issue of unemployment.   For good.

When we don’t, and we are oblivious to the reason, all we can expect to do is to play a catching-up game but not solve the problem.  It stays on the charts as a stubborn problem, usually on the President’s table, worsening over time.  This is, despite efforts from all quarters to run ahead of the problem or get to the root of the issue.  Not to say, we hear persistent disgruntlement amongst the locals about the lack of employment opportunities for the youth or for those employed the lack of pay rises and we harbour fears of jobs being taken away by foreigners.

So,

Sustained Growth of Supply of Labour > Sustained Growth of Demand for Labour

= Sustained Unemployment

[Insert graphic here]

These two factors are not directly related to each other, but they each

 influence unemployment, separate as they may be.

But what led things to get this far?

What causes the demand for labour to decline relative to the supply of labour?  And what causes the supply of labour to increase relative to the demand for it?

First let’s explore the supply side.

Here’s a case in example.  In the ten years to 2010, Vietnam saw its population numbers grow from 80 to 89 million.  Growth of population numbers and more typically birth and migration numbers influence the supply side of this equation.  Job creation on the other hand, did not see such levels of growth.  The result is, we see runaway unemployment in the country.

Closer to home, while, population numbers in the country do not compare anywhere close to those we see in Vietnam, still when we look beyond the overall numbers, there are interesting data that we cannot ignore.

We know the overall population numbers have grown somewhat from 1.5 to 2 million levels over a decade.  Given however, the concerns of mortality rates one may conclude that our population numbers have not really changed all that much to warrant the unemployment levels we see in the country.

But realistically … has the supply of labour declined over time?

Births rates from twenty years ago, leads to the supply of labour and therefore the unemployment numbers we see today.

When we remove population and mortality figures and see our fertility rates, we may notice that these numbers have not been all that low.  In fact, typically in most populations, each generation outnumbers the previous one.  Think of population pyramid, where the numbers of young born are in numbers greater than older persons in the population.  But also see population pyramids for more recent decades assuming wider bases than those in previous ones.

Such trends are not apparent when we gloss over overall population data.  Yes, there is migration data.  But we cannot shut our eyes to these sheer levels of increase.

Do we know by how much such numbers have grown?  In the country?  In the region?

A separate question is, when should we start noticing such increases?  Would it be when the young turn 20 years old and are now looking for a job and they complain they cannot find one?

That will be too late!

We would now instead be dealing with “a fire” in our hands.  Youth unemployment rather than employment.  Yet it really is a problem that had its embers simmering for the past 20 years.  Quietly but surely.  But we were not watching it, till the embers had blown over and we now have a fire in our hands.  At this point, we say, we have a problem.  A burning platform.  But the signs were long there.  If we push this now, the system will push back.

Ok it has not.  And … has the demand for labour increased by such levels during this period?

If it has, we should not see sustained unemployment.  This is indicative that the demand for labour has not matched such levels.

How much has it increased by?  Perhaps more importantly, how much would it need to increase by?  Two-folds?  Six-folds?  What do you see are the answers?  What is making it difficult to get there?

Interestingly, should we think carefully about both sides of the equation, that is, the jobs and the children we create are influenced by the same segment of the population.  The Adults.

While perhaps we may argue that these’ activities are carried out’ by different sub-segments of the adult population, it is still the sole prerogative of this group.  The problem may not belong to any one part of this group, i.e. government or private sector or families.  That sounds like the bad news.  That it was our fault (in any generation).  But the good news is if we created the problem, then we also have the ‘power’ in our hands and in our hearts to turn it around (yes, even as a citizen) for the nation.  Together.

So is unemployment, still the real problem?  How do you see this issue?  Go forward another twenty years from now.  What would these trends look like then?

Yes, you are right given this, the reality looks painful for our children too.  But I also know, if anyone can turn this around, it is us!

The 2nd and 3rd articles in this three part series will appear in the next edition of this column.   It will seek to explore the story of the demand and supply sides of labour respectively more deeply and what causes them to either grow or decline over time.

END

#998

Countries by birth rate in 2008World map showing countries by nominal GDP per...

While this is her maiden newspaper column, Ms Sheila Damodaran is an avid writer on her blogs and website.   An international consultant in the use of systemic thinking for regional or sectoral strategy development, she welcomes feedback on her column as well as requests for types of persistent issues you wish to see discussed in her column at sheila@loatwork.com.  For more information, refer to www.loatwork.com.

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Article 1: The Magic of Systems Thinking!


Dear all,

Hope this mail finds all of you in good spirits among all that you wish for in your life.

Some of you may know that I have been away from Singapore since 2007 being part of a programme here in Botswana where I had assisted the government learn and appreciate the five disciplines in dealing with persistent or stubborn issues that faces the nation.    These range from issues such as unemployment and budget deficits to standards of education levels to HIV/AIDs and other health scares.    The use of the five disciplines till today, continue to amaze me the ease with which the five disciplines help anyone provide clarity on why issues resist change and what causes its sustained stubbornness.

My focus and attention these days is in assisting governments in the planning of systemic development of their regional, sectoral and national strategies.    Organizational plans and programmes for departments and performance management (people) and project monitoring may be the next steps from this process.    Learning about the five disciplines is a first step in the (20-part) process of teams that work with me.

Today was one of those days when I seem to be living one of my dream days.  We may not see it when we are in it, but as I step back from the day, it fits to a tee.

I had made a visit to a media house, where I was meeting someone I had come to seek his help on reaching potential clients through the media.  He is a young person, perhaps in his early thirties.  Let me refer to him as YP here.  I am planning to expand my practice in the region and was working on the idea of running one-day programmes for the public at large here and was at the media house to explore my options in placing some adverts with them.

I am writing here the conversation as it happened as it would allow us to appreciate how as conversations go back and forth between individuals, one may appreciate a little better how talking about systems thinking can excite people but I was particularly struck by a couple of epiphanies that was happening for the both of us as a result of the conversation.

YP:  So what is that you do?

Sheila:  I do a work involving the discipline of systems thinking (immediately most minds think it is computer systems) to deal with stubborn problems.  (Immediately YP’s eyes puckered up to show he is confused.  )

Sheila:  Well, let’s think HIV/AIDs infection rates or water shortages faced by the country.  For how many years or has it decades would you say have we been trying to tackle it?

YP:  Yes, you are right.  Well, from the time they started presenting themselves in the 80s and 60s respectively.

Sheila:  How have such issues behaved over time till today?

(We both then pour over a piece of paper, where I draw the X and Y axis and while today’s situation on HIV/AIDs show a significant levels of decline from its peak in the 1990s, it has not found itself back to zero yet.  It is hovering about 15-30% rates of the population.  YP watches the graph and agrees quickly.  I then pose another question).

Sheila:  How would we draw the graph of the investments we have poured into this programme?(again we pour ourselves over the same graph and draw a graph that shows, the rate of investments have unrelented showing a steady incline over the years, that today they are surpassing levels that we have imagined was necessary.  YP’s eyes light up as he now sees what a stubborn problem means).  Sheila (continues):  Given the rate at which we have poured investments and how it has surpassed the trends for infections, we should have been successful at bringing it down .  .  .  .   by now.  Yes?

YP:  Yes.

Sheila:  And then here’s how we really tell we have a stubborn problem to start with.  Supposing the money was not there, what would the (real trend) for HIV/AIDs look like?YP (adds slowly):  It would have looked like the graph that looks like the rate we have been pouring money in to deal with it – an unrelentless increase than can quite quickly spread itself even beyond the borders of the country.

Sheila:  Yes, you are right!  That pattern that you see in front of you is a pattern caused by a vicious circle of causality that keeps pushing the trend one way, upwards and faster, like an exponential line.  That graph is a sign that whatever causes the rate of increase of infection HIV (notice I did not say the next infection) is no longer a linear or straight-line causality but the causality has now closed itself in and it is now assuming a reinforcing behaviour like a wheel that does not stop, assuming greater levels of force and speed in each iteration.  Think hurricane.  This is the battle we are fighting.  However, pouring water on the fire when we do not know what is causing the fire to keep coming back, is money down the drain.  The fire will not stop.  [The phone rings.  YP is clearly irritated by the distraction.  He answers it and returns quickly back to the discussion.  Remember he is still at work!]

YP:  Now I get it!  Wow!  My this is so exciting to see it.  (he pauses and then continues)

YP:  What about if we use this work to look at other current concerns we face in a country?  One thing that bothers me is the declining levels of standards of education we face in our public schools in the country.  Each year we see that the grades of new graduands from the system, make lower standards of education compared to earlier years (and then he adds – he now has a new language) despite as a government and as a country we had poured more money each year.  How would we use something like this to understand why that may be happening?[When he opened the new question, I felt suddenly, that I was back at my sessions, and that felt really good – despite I was well aware that I was sitting in a cubicle of one of the front desk officers in a media house.  It still was somehow befitting.  I allowed it.]

Sheila:  This story is classic to one of the laws that we hold in this work, which is the area of highest strategic leverage is one that is the least obvious.  Today, as Ministry of Education, the Minister sees teachers as a means to aid students raise their standards of education.  And teachers carry out this role diligently believing that should they pour ‘from their container’ to the ‘container of the child’, the child with enough hard work should reach their standards.  Sometimes this strategy works.  Most times it does not.  [At that point, I draw on another piece of paper a quick set of factors that distinguishes education from learning.  ]

Sheila: Education is a physical and mental process very much influenced by external factors that we can see and touch, such as the quality of the infrastructure, teachers, books, stationery and general education environment including those we set at home, all of which is a mandate a Ministry of Education can easily set for itself.  An area however that sits next to impossible and so falls easily outside the mandate of education is learning.

Learning unlike education is a purely emotional process and very personal.  [It is not a one-off process that happens when we buy a school book that we think the child needs for his education.  It is a process that is largely driven by the person himself or herself and cannot be led by an external force.  It comes from an inner drive spurred on by sense of curiosity and a hunger to want to learn something for the sake of seeking knowledge for itself (learning about something as it is) and not what it may do (how) for the owner of the knowledge.  I can learn about ‘the principle of moments’ in physics, because it will aid me in using a screwdriver to do things with less effort.  Or I can learn about ‘moments’ and be stunned by how such knowledge grew in people’s minds to be able to write it down for others to see and therefore learn from.]

Sheila (continues):  However the bedrock of that emotional development is a function of the child’s relationship with his parent.  When the child sees two things that his parent’s show,  i. e.   the parent’s behave as if they are still on a journey of learning and not they have arrived at a destination.  This experience is often a product of a person who believes in himself.  When one does not, we find having to stay on a journey becomes a restless activity, unlike the sense of comfort we have when we arrive home.  And when parents believe in themselves, it often becomes easier for the parent to believe in his child as well.  A child that sees a parent who believes in the child, often finds it easier for itself to grow to believe in itself.  When parents do not spend the time with the child, as it may be for parents that stay apart or grow a child up single-handedly, such parents will find it harder to be consistent in relaying such emotions and beliefs to his child.  Sheila (continues):  A child who does not believe in himself, will find learning for the sake of learning a difficult experience.  Learning becomes a means to another end.  Not an end in itself.  The result:  School grades decline.

Sheila (continues):  But the Ministry of Education thinks it does not have a ‘mandate or control on the above area’.  It has started on a battle (in education) that is not designed to win but to just get by.  Sheila (continues):  Parents’ emotional relationship with a child is a necessary part in nurturing the spirit of learning and it happens indirectly (hence the ‘least obvious’).  Teachers play a role as far as in furthering education but can play little beyond that in a space at trying to replace the role a parent plays in fostering the conditions needed for the spirit of learning to grow for the child.

YP:  So, that’s why MOE did not have much impact through its current programmes.  Parents are the missing key in the equation.  But, most of us in the country raise our children single-handedly and we are focus on seeing our children on a need ‘to pay school fees’ basis.  How then would we foster such beliefs?  I see this step happening as next to impossible.  What causes couples to stay separately and not grow to be together?

Well,  .  .  .   you can now guess what happened next!

We spent the next hour or so, looking at issues ranging from couples learning to grow closer, to rates of vehicle accidents on the roads, to private sector growths, to impending labour strikes, to agricultural outputs, to rainfall level behaviour, to unemployment levels, to divorces.  Both of us did not see the time pass by and literally forgot that we were right in the middle of a room that deals with front desk issues.  The learnings on the other hand were non-stop.

And then the following epiphanies began to hit the both of us!

We all know that Systems Thinking is a process of searching for what’s causing something to keep coming back at us – a search for the vicious circles of causality.  Each time as we brought ourselves through a different circle of causality, we began to realize:

  • Epiphany #1: When the practice is carried out in a consistent and disciplined way, it does something to our minds.  As we keep seeing circles unfold from the straight-line thinking, and almost like ‘magic’, we find ourselves willing to let go of whatever we are focused on or tied to (and tends to burgeon, be they levels of poverty, malnutrition, labour and political unrests, unemployment, etc.  ) to seeing ‘the bigger picture’ of what’s causing us to be bogged down.  It is an experience of zooming out.  We see the forest now and we gasp with surprise.
  • Epiphany #2: The effect of zooming out begins to also help us in the process of stretching or as we say broadening the mind.  This is more than just joining the dots or arrows or seeing the details of a circular causality.  Here’s the magic:  It is the ability of the mind to see itself zooming out of a situation.  This experience is not an ordinary experience.  It is new to the mind.  We usually drill inwards.  Not out.  It is unusual.  And when the mind sees itself zooming out, something else happens to the mind.  It learns to let go of our fears in overcoming the problems.  We begin to realize the baselessness of straight line cause-effect thinking in dealing with vicious problems and so is an overbearing focus on ‘core mandates’ or missions or goals.  We begin to see how they pay attention to a part of the circle of causality – and why such thinking would not take us far from the realities we are facing.  We begin to see how we will be led back to the problem again.  Our minds are stretched.
  • Epiphany #3: The immediate reaction to the above is, once the mind has been ‘stretched’ in this way, it does not as easily snap back to where it was before.

If these do not happen to us, then systemic thinking has not quite worked (its magic) on us as yet.  Don’t give up yet.

However, do not blame the tools of or the discipline of systems thinking or yourself for not experiencing “the magic”.  Blame the consistency of the practice of that discipline.  This is often the reason systemic thinking defies immediate replicability.   The ability to analyse comes with the willingness to be disciplined by the discipline of Systems Thinking.

Do talk about it within your communities and share your reflections with us.

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Article 3: We are peaceful people


Under construction

Under construction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“We are peaceful people,” because we do not talk to each other when we are feeling angry (about something or somebody).

Instead we keep it (bottled) inside within us (causing our body blood pressures and the cost of running the Ministry of Health in the country both to rise).  We do this, because, “should we not bottle it within, and let it out, then than talk through things, we are likely to end up ‘killing each other'”.

So, we keep quiet.  Therefore we are a peaceful nation.

Have you heard of this phrase before?

Well … welcome to the world of non-generative conversations!  This is the world of not understanding and learning to work with distinctions or differences that exist between us.

When we reach a certain age, we do not expect to stay in conversation.  We expect to be heard rather than hear.  Conjure images of persons watching you speak as they listen.  This bodes well in most of our minds as we reach significant positions or age.   We often relegate pictures of dialogue and being in conversations to women, young persons, inter-generational conversations, and perhaps spouses.  But not the rest of us.

Discussions, Yes.  Debates, Yes, Negotiation, Yes.

Dialogue?  No.  The buck stops there.  That’s where we draw the line.

Men and women handle anger differently.  Men seek that space to figure out by himself what he would need to do next.  Women on the other find ways to close that space so she may express her feelings about her anger to someone who is willing to hear her, so that when she sees and feels she is being heard, she allows herself to release the pain enough to free up space within her to figure what she needs to do and so then becomes clearer what to do next.

But when women handle anger the way the men does and she’s not figuring out what to do, except to shut the world out from her, we are heading right into trouble.   As a nation, there is a crisis.  A personal as well as an identity crisis.  A crisis brought on by not knowing what to do.  Men become “lost” in this too as they are not hearing from their woman what is it that he needs to do differently and why so.  As a result, both sides stay polarized in their positions.   There is stuckness.  The easy way out of such polarization is to shut out one’s world from the other.

But for a woman such an action is likely to work against her.  It leads her to stay stuck in her hole.  She possibly comes out of it, bitter as her emotions are not yet been given space and time to be heard and for her to feel she is understood by someone other than herself.  This level of emotional validation is central to her personal well-beingness [this runs contrary to work spaces that advocate for professionalism or that emotional behaviors are discouraged or even frowned upon].   She may become distracted by life, even resorting to addictive tendencies (such as drinking or smoking), but she continues to stay unresolved internally.  It is more likely to lead her to a meltdown one day or she may end up over-consuming to a point that now illnesses take over and ride out her life.  Men however deal with such situations by living out their fantasy to be able to fly, disappear and reappear and zip in and out of realities as they see fit.  They lose touch with the realities and families around them.  Women, on the other hand, behave the ways of the men, either because that’s the behaviour they see of someone with whom they feel intimate with and look upon as their leader (be they the father, brother, boyfriend or husband) or do not have another female person or mentor in guiding them in the ways of the women that are emotionally (compared to physically) distinct from men.

But do we understand such distinctions exist between men and women or even just between ourselves?  What is getting in the way of us understanding such differences?

And particularly when men do not participate in dialogue, they miss out on a whole side of the story that is not partial to their own points of view.

What about differences in the ways we view at issues?  How would we handle them?

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Article 2: Setting goals is the easy part. Reaching them is not!


REACHING THE GOALS YOU HAVE SET IS NOT EASY TILL …. WE FACE AND DEAL WITH STUBBORN PROBLEMS

It is a management question.

Are you there yet?  What are you doing to get there?  Have you set goals for you and your team?

Yet, setting of goals is really the easy part.  And there are tons of research and help on how we may do so and even on how to manage the settings.  Making out a list of “Things to do today” is one such everyday activity and we are pretty good at it.

However, reaching them is another story.  And there is not as much research on why it does not happen or how it may happen for our organizations.  And not to say, much help.

It is an area that we stay quiet on.  Sometimes, even a undiscussable.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

And we learn over time with experience that using charisma, meeting of heads, efforts at cascading, seeking to agree, cajole, counsel and sometimes even assuming punitive stances does not realistically make that much of a difference in reaching those goals or implementing programmes as an institution or as a nation in a sustainable way.

And we may carry out various activities to do so.  Be it implementing performance management systems, setting of directives, designing project management, re-engineering business processes, coaching, mentoring, going for corporate retreats, organizing seminars, conferences, district and village meetings and signing of memorandums, monitoring and evaluation and so on.  The list of work required to reach those goals is seemingly endless and appears necessary.  But the price we pay as a nation is heavy (including for our attorneys).

We all know this deeply; though we may not necessarily say it out aloud.  We do lead ourselves to believe they work, and yet sometimes we would rather choose to continue to lower our standards in reality to meet realistic levels of achievement over time and not understand what’s getting in the way of reaching those goals.   The former is easier.  The latter is harder.  And we are sometimes not aware that such things may be happening to us.  Often we assume the reason is the fault of the employee, or of the team manager or of the market or of the citizens or even the global recession.  And we get away by blaming “them out there”.  We get away with crime!

However, the bottom line is the ability of the organization and / or of the nation to sustain itself.

When we do not do so, it usually shows up in our balance sheets as deficits.  Eventually.  Sometimes sooner than we expect leading us to make call outs to government for bailouts, bank loans or grants and aids.  Nevertheless, we would start the same rigmarole all over again when given a second chance.

SO GIVEN THE ABOVE, WHY DOES IT HAPPEN AND WHAT COULD WE DO ABOUT IT?

What are we not learning?

The reasons cited above are what we see on the tip.  The obvious reasons.

The ones the problems present to us if we are not careful in search for the reasons more deeply.  Those are usually not the real ones.

If you have come this far, I am sure you are not surprised by this conclusion.  The real reasons are less obvious because they have become what we call cyclical in nature or assumes a systemic quality.   Systemic because of key interrelationships (vicious circles) that have taken on a quality of recurrent influence / causality over time.

When they assume that recurrent influence, they also tend to worsen in each iteration of the cycle and therefore these cycles grows deeper and away from our everyday perceptions of reality (underlying).  These structures do also one more thing.  They typically learn to defy any efforts on our part to ‘correct’ the situation or a problem with the programmes or initiatives institutions come up with.  Therefore programme or activity implementation efforts tend to stand to fail or do not reach the goals set for them.

Identifying these vicious circles require investigation and a tactic that is very different from the straight-line approaches we are used to when dealing with them.  One that requires the mind ‘to bend’.  The causality is not that much different from one nation to another (and so much less differences exist between institutions), nevertheless, rather than leave participants with the solution, I prefer participants learn to discover the reasons jointly with each other whilst with the facilitator.  This is strategic.

In this way, the participants learn to leave the sessions carrying with them in their minds and hearts ways to continue to deepen their practice with each other over time to get to the bottom of the issue, and eventually to reach there by themselves.

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Regional Article 23: Unemployment, labour disputes, economic diversification and fertility


 

Most countries think supply of labour should drive demand.  We forget then (or choose not to admit to ourselves) that it is demand that drives supply in any situation.  Not the other way around.  It is just not realistic to believe that because we have so many ‘young ones’ here, that there should be jobs out there for them.  But we do.  The two however are not related in reality.  But we ‘force that relationship in our minds’.

When we dug for data over time, to our surprise we were noticing that unlike what the country thought, its population was not declining.  Yes, it’s overall population numbers may be dropping to attrition due to deaths (in part speeded up along by HIV/AIDs) and migration.  However, its fertility rate on the other hand had been quite high and continues to grow.

English: Total Fertility Rate vs GDP per capit...

English: Total Fertility Rate vs GDP per capita (2009, USD). Only countries with over 5 Million population were plotted to reduce outliers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what was causing its fertility rates to increase?

This was in part driven by a few reasons.

The first, and the least inconspicuous of the three was a hidden matriarchal system (the mothers and women here wield more power than it thought).  This was fuelled by fears of security they held on to as young women themselves as they watched their husbands leave them for long-term employment in mines in neighbouring countries and had to learn to cope to fend for themselves and their children very quickly.  Over time, this evolved to driving their children to produce more children in the belief that the more there are children within one’s own family, the more potential the family had in  eventually bringing in income from their lands and the economy.  It was a long-term retirement plan for the women. (Need for Security on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs)

Diagram of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Diagram of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Men on the other hand, played a hand in this too, each trying to outdo the other in producing children.  The more children he had, the better a man he was going to be in the eyes of the persons around him.  It was an immediate gratification or ego trip for the men (Need for Ego / Belonging on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs)

These children in turn grew up over time, seeing a world where they knew who were their friends and who were their enemies and this line was drawn up by who is within their core family and who was outside it (to a point it sometimes included the fathers who bore them).  This often meant that as they grew up they were learning not to ‘let go of the families they were born into’ enough to build long-term relationships with their spouses (someone who is ‘outside’ their families) and their in-laws to help build core family systems (husband, wife and their children) for themselves.   It was the need for maintaining or finding sense of belonging for the child or security in the familiarity or long-term childhoodness which sometimes perpetuated in older age as girlfriendhood or boyfriendhood syndrome and the need in not having to assume responsibilities for the consequences of one’s actions.  (Need for Security on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs)

The core Brodie family (L-R: Adeeb, Leyla, Con...

The core Brodie family (L-R: Adeeb, Leyla, Conor, Michael, Nicole) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hence this meant the demise of the core family system and the growth and existence of the extended family as a support system for the individuals.  Today, these numbers are rising up to 70% levels.  Less than 30% levels of the population stay married and these numbers continue to decline.

However, when core families do not develop within the system, the system (particularly the males) does not learn a key lesson of life which is “what it takes to hold, build and share perspectives outside its comfort zones needed for a more “collaborative, extended and systemic organizations and industrial relations” and therefore the birth and growth of corporations (by the locals).

This would lead locals themselves particularly as the males to learn to build (not just participate) the economy.  For men to do so, it is in part as a result of the type of relation he enjoys with his spouse (but not his mother).  The more intimate the couple is emotionally (not just physically), the greater is his sense of resilience and motivation he is able to gain to meet and overcome the challenges he would face in the world of businesses and the economy.

Sir Robert Hotung, with his 3 generations of e...

Sir Robert Hotung, with his 3 generations of extended family (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And so, when the economy does not grow, it is unable to create more jobs within the economy (as revenues are declining as much as costs may be rising) and therefore, unemployment continues to exist and worsens in the face of growing population numbers (fertility) which means the family in turn finds more of its people are not participating in the economy and therefore able to bring in resources into it. When this part of a man’s life is not growing, he becomes more conservative and reserved and succumbs to addictions, substance abuses and violence and a general disregard for respect for themselves and others.  The signals a death knell for the economy.   The organized economy suffers.  The subsistence economy takes over.

Gradually, this in turn leads women to bear children outside of marital relations (most children born in this country are born to women who are not married and that trend is rising).

In the mind of the woman, bearing a child to a man (particularly if he has the means to support relative to herself) would ensure a somewhat steady source of income for their family through their children (sometimes to the point of coercing the father of the child to continue to bear expenses for it and the family) or it stops the existing male persons within the extended family to build relations outside his family in order to support the needs of the family (to children and sisters who are not married).

Have we come full circle yet?  Do you see the vicious circle?

How would we treat this vicious problem?

Can the government realistically solve this problem?

Do not expect to learn to solve the problem, if one did not create the problem!

 

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Regional Article 20: Why do disputes by labor (with unions) and employers go up?


  1. Despite our efforts to set up judiciary courts to preside over cases involving employers and employees embroiled in disputes with each other as well as educate ‘people’ on ways to avoid disputes with each other, why do relations between employers and employees continue to sour and such disputes tend to soar year after year?  Surely, it should have made a dent to the trend by now.  If not, why so?   As this forces us to allocate even further public resources to it the following year!
  2. Think how much money we have poured (country after country) to ‘douse the flames and put out the smoke’ after thirty, forty, fifty years of working at our industrial relation efforts.  Has that been little amount of money?
  3. So why do things not change?
  4. Will it get better?  Or can it get worse?

Why do things happen that way?  Why are such trends resisting our efforts to control it (for the sake of up-liftment of our economies, we would argue)?

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National Article 19: What causes fidelity?


We know what causes infidelity?

But what causes fidelity?  Whatever that causes fidelity, when it is not there, causes infidelity!

So, what causes fidelity?

A couple goes through different stages or types of intimacy during their times together and experience one or more stages in their lifetime.  To the extent the couple moves through the different stages would depend on the time and attention they place on their relationship.  These include with no specific order or preference i.e. being:

  • Sexually intimate with each other (be it where the couple experiences sexual intimacy either regularly, or on an ad-hoc basis)
  • Physically intimate (where the couple moves to live in the same space together)
  • Emotionally intimate (where the couple enjoys a relationship where each helps the other meet their needs emotionally; here the couple has learned to understand each others’ pasts as well as learnt to share and value unique moments together such as dinners, holidays, family events, and so on.)
  • Mentally intimate (where the couple has learned to see the view of the partner not from one’s own perspective but that of the partner’s and in doing so learns to bring their minds together so that they may plan their lives together from the past, present and into the future and not meet their future as contingent (“let’s cross the bridge when we get there”. i.e, there is child born to them and so they need to meet its living and educational expenses, and so on)
  • Spiritually intimate (where each regard the other as their soul-mate and enjoy a celestial or soul mate experience together)

Where do you think sexual fidelity begins to happen for the couple?  Would it be at sexual intimacy or at physical intimacy or when the couple has learned to experience emotional intimacy?

What does sexual fidelity look like?  It includes among other things, a willingness by each person in the relationship to regard his or her partner as:

  • The only sexual partner for life;
  • Where the relationship is not given (as in blood relations), but the couple has chosen to learn to want to be together;
  • The relationship has grown beyond physical intimacy to include (or aspires to include) all or other forms of intimacy between the two and not limited to one or two out of the five;
  • The couple is in the relationship because they ‘want to’ and not because they ‘had to’ (it is an obligation or transaction or choices made by parents or forced to) be in it;
  • The couple regards each’s relationship with the other emotionally (as opposed to physically, materially, mentally) as equals and not assumes either as superior (head of the household) or inferior (submissive) to the other.

Did you say, the above (particularly sexual fidelity) happens when the couple learns to build emotional intimacy?  Yes, you are right!  We know couple who have reached the first two stages in the relationship and have even chosen to marry each other, yet, do not necessarily enjoy sexual fidelity with each other.

So how does emotional intimacy happen?  Does it happen magically or it requires hard work on both sides?  How would they need to work with each other so that they meet the other’s needs emotionally?

The following is something I have found useful as a I work with Dr Gray’s work.  It helps appreciate the level of intimacy that may happen for a couple.

  • What do you notice happening between the two (notice the threads in red)?
  • Does it happen one way or would it need to happen two-ways?
  • Are the needs of the two genders the same?
  • So who starts first?
  • Do these steps happen overnight or do they take time?
  • Do they happen by accident or it helps that both sides of the couple first really appreciate what really ticks the other in (or off)?
  • How would such learning happen?  It is easier if one sees one’s parents do it?  However, should that not be the case, what are the implications for society, the couple and the future?  What could happen differently?
NEEDS OF THE TWO GENDERS AND THE ORDER THESE NEEDS GROW  / REINFORCE OVER TIME TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE RELATIONSHIPS IN A COUPLE: BY DR JOHN GRAY, AUTHOR OF “MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS”

She Needs He Needs
CaringWhen he shows interest in a woman’s feelings and heartfelt concern for her well-being, she begins to trust him more TrustWhen she believes in her man’s abilities and intentions that he is doing his best and that he wants the best for his partner, he is more caring and attentive to her feelings and needs
UnderstandingWhen he listens without judgment but with empathy, the easier it is for her to give her man the acceptance he needs AcceptanceWhen she receives a man without trying to change him, he listens and gives her the understanding she needs
RespectWhen he acknowledges her rights, wishes, and needs, she feels respected.  It is easier for her to give her man the appreciation he deserves AppreciationWhen she acknowledges having received personal benefit and value from a man’s effort and behaviour, he feels appreciated.  He knows his effort is not wasted and is thus encouraged to give more and he respects his partner more.
DevotionWhen he gives priority to a woman’s needs and proudly commits himself to supporting and fulfilling her, the woman thrives and feels adored.  When she feels number one in his life, she admires him. Admiration– When she admires him with wonder, delight and pleased approval, he feels secure enough to devote himself to his woman and adore her.
ValidationWhen he does not object to a woman’s feelings and instead accepts their validity, she truly feels loved and gives the approval the man needs. ApprovalWhen she sees her man as her knight in shining armour and recognizes the good reasons what he does, she signals that he has passed her tests and this becomes easier for him to confirm her feelings.
ReassuranceWhen he repeatedly shows that he cares and devotes himself to his partner (the woman should come to expect sexual fidelity and that the man provides and protects her exclusively), tells a woman that she is continually loved.  He must remember to reassure her again and again.  This moves her to encourage him to be a man bigger than himself. Encouragement– A man primarily needs to be encouraged, understood and if need to see the woman sympathize and he sees her stands by him.  Her encouraging attitude gives hope and courage to a man by expressing confidence in his abilities and character.  When her attitude expresses trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration and approval, it encourages a man to be all that he can be.  This motivates him to give her the loving reassurance she needs.

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National Article 18: What would it take to ‘cure’ HIV?


Should we pay attention to:

  1. Curing the disease when it is already transmitted (attack the problem that we can see)? or
  2. Preventing the disease from being transmitted (defend ourselves from the problem?) or
  3. ‘Cure’ ‘the reason that causes the disease to be transmitted (what causes the problem)?

Let’s take this situation.  Suppose there is a couple, both of whom are HIV positive and both are sexually fidel to each other.  Given so, would the two increase the prevalence of the disease ‘out there’ in society?   No, you say?  You are right!

So when does the disease increase its prevalence?

It (only) happens when one or both partners choose the act of infidelity with each other.  Should partners choose fidelity with each other, transmission of the disease is likely to plunge immediately across society.  And plunge faster than any interventions by government or organizations will make it possible.

And it is (way) cheaper.  There is the price we pay for not dealing with the causality.  And the price tag is US$27 billion! and that is just by one country – USA. That is money that could have been somebody’s salary increase. However, I suppose when we do not figure these out, we probably do not deserve those salary increases!  Otherwise, it can easily be there for our takings.

Now, this was interesting for the Department of HIV/AIDs because a big part of its efforts and budgets placed to curb the epidemic was to ‘prevent the disease being transmitted between mother to child’.  However when they recognized that 80% or so transmissions are because of indiscretions by couples in their sexual behaviour (and the primary causality of the disease), they began to realize that whilst they worked hard to stop the disease being transmitted from mother to child and hospitals therefore saved the child from its mother but when the child grows up, and becomes an adult, it is possible that the child may not be able to save from itself should it engage in sexually indiscriminate practices itself!  The money it had used to save the child, ‘literally was now become money that it had poured down the drain’!

But it is harder to ‘work on the fidelity between the couple’ in the bedroom.  It is easier to manage the transmission at the hospital between the mother and the child.  So we ignore it, choosing easier ways out such as resorting to dispensing condoms, or encouraging practices of circumcision among men or extolling the vices of maintaining sexual networks or encourage total abstinence.  They work somewhat, but not realistically enough to make sure the country will meet its target of zero infection rates.  Yet, we are not talking as yet for us to learn what it takes for couples to learn to want to be together and afterwards it learns to also exercise sexual fidelity between each other.  Till we get there, can we expect to solve this problem?  No.  You can deal a blow, but not solve it.

So, what causes sexual fidelity?  Or have you too given up that the idea is possible?

Notice most sexual indiscretions happen away from the glare of the ‘day’ and under the cover of the night and in spots that are deliberately designed to keep ‘the authorities out’ (see pages 3-5) and apparent ‘disorder in’?  What are we hiding from?  Who are we running from and then afterwards who are we running into?  There lies the answer to our questions on fidelity!

So what would lead a couple to become fidel with each other?

English: Diagram showing relative global AIDS ...

Image via Wikipedia

HIV/AIDS prevelance worldmap

Image via Wikipedia

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Regional Article 17: Is unemployment real?


UNEMPLOYMENT = SUPPLY OF LABOUR > DEMAND FOR LABOUR

In a country, where levels of unemployment stay persistent over time, then it is a sign that the rates of growth of the supply of labour (population numbers -” child creation”) each year is growing at rates faster than the rate of growth of the demand for labor  (job creation).  And we as a nation are not noticing these two trends.  Period.

When the supply consistently outstrips demand over time, we have persistent unemployment.  It is an unhealthy situation (as we would have with when supply of manufactured goods exceeds their demand we would have a drop in prices, when supply of rainfall exceeds demand for water, we have  rising water levels, when supply of migrant influx exceeds rate of city planning we have slums, and so on).  Unemployment is a function of how these two variables are behaving relative to each other.  Period.

And should the problem be led by the supply of labour, we need to be realistic to expect that the demand for labour (be they by job vacancies by the private (employment) or the government sectors (education, employment) will grow fast enough to overtake and get rid of the state unemployment in the country.  Seeing scenes of citizens walking the streets looking for jobs is here to stay.  Period.  Again.

What influences the supply of labor?

The rate of supply of labour is influenced by the rate of the population’s growth (i.e. procreation).  The only issue is the supply we see today of twenty and thirty-year olds in the labour market, was set into motion twenty or thirty years ago.  By the population.  The children born then have today become the youth and labour of today …. and therefore today’s unemployment.

In most cases, the populace do not see the relationship of the birth-rates of yesteryears (well pretty much like what happens between the sheets and the timing of births) and much less so their impacts on the labor supply for tomorrow.  It is and is likely to stay “unrelated” in our minds for as long as these inter-relationships are not raised and discussed by all.  Instead, our mind replaces that (“vacuüm in our) thought by fears of our survival or security for our future should “if “the one, two or three” dies or moves away tomorrow?” (this is the voice of the grandmother in the lesser developed  countries).  So, we multiply … mindlessly.

But there is a misconception and it is unfortunate!

Supply does not drive the demand for labour.  This  means, that ‘should there be excess labour’, it is not to say that the demand for labour should go up.  It could go up for compassionate reasons but not on economic grounds.  We forget that in reality, it is the demand for labour that drives its supply.  Period.

What influences the demand for labour?

I sometimes joke, it is often easier to “create children” than it is to “create jobs”.   But in both cases,  the “jobs” are done by the “same person” – Adults.  So well, how is it then that we do not see how we are attempting to solve a problem we have created by our own volition?

Also the mind that ‘looks for a job’ for oneself to feed my children, is not the mind that learns to ‘create jobs’ for others, including for our children.

So it is the fault of the ‘bosses’ for not creating jobs, or the ‘fault of the rest of us’ for not thinking about creating jobs for others (while we are busy trying to find one for ourselves)?

What influences our ability to create  jobs?

It is dependent on the propensity by the same adults of the country to grow the economy, i.e. the private sector.  It includes us defining the ability of the country (and sector / industries) to see :

  1. Capital, flow into the economy (and not the family only)
  2. Increase of the economy’s revenue and
  3. Reduction in the costs of running the economy
  4. Diversification of the economy (systemic growth)
As the margin between the two widens, so to does the country’s / industry’s capacity to see:
  1. Creation of further posts for existing employees to progress into
  2. With progression of existing employees in moving to higher level jobs, it leaves the posts vacant for younger entrants (youths) to more easily enter the labour market
  3. More likelihood of higher wages increase across the board for all

This is dependent on the systemic development (what diversification could look like) of the economy, e.g. the story of the dairy milk production.

So, is this just a case of “not enough jobs”?  Yes? Given what?  We would need to complete the sentence … for everyone!

  1. What should we be doing today to solve the problem of  unemployment?  Who is the ‘we’?  The government?  The private sector?  The public sector?  The citizens?  The male or the man (the demand for labour?)?  The female or the woman (the supply of labour?)?
  2. What, in your view, would  citizens need to understand about these realities before they begin ‘discussions about unemployment’ in the country and to figure their own ways to turn the situation around?
  3. When should we be thinking about the solution to the problem?  When we create the problem or when the problem leads us to another problem?

What are the roles of the wife, mother and the man in turning these situations around?

Which role as a woman does she have an impact on the growing the demand for labour?

Which role does she have an impact on growing the supply of labour?  What is motivating her?

What roles are the men play in each of their relationships with these women?  As the son or the man?

Which role of the man helps grow the demand for labour (job creation) in the economy?

As the son or the man?

But this reasoning almost also begs the question, what were we doing when ‘the spark’ sparked the problem?

Sleeping, you say?

Ahh ….. SURE!

World map showing countries by nominal GDP per...

unemployment rate

English: unemployement rates in OECD countries...

Image via Wikipedia

English: Unemployment rate in Europe (UE) and ...

Image via Wikipedia

English: selfmade image of U.S. Unemployment r...

Population, Landscape, and Climate Estimates, ...

Population, Landscape, and Climate Estimates, v3: Population Density 1990, Africa (Photo credit: SEDACMaps)

Global: Settlement Points

Global: Settlement Points (Photo credit: SEDACMaps)

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National Article 16: So, who is the (real) criminal?


Stressed so I took my boss hostage (thesun.co.uk)

I found this part interesting:

Thompson then tied his victim to a chair and subjected him to a 20-minute ordeal that left Mr Grady suffering depression and post-traumatic stress. He remains off work five months later.

The court heard the worker (Thomson) told his boss: “This is the only way people will listen to me. I told them I was dangerous.

It is painful to be the victim.  So we go after the criminal.

Yet there is no criminal until there is an act of crime.

But, who or what is the cause of the act of crime?

Do our Penal Codes deal with the reasons for the act or the acts themselves?

But if we wish to bring crime down, would it suffice to focus on the acts?

Do you think ‘crime’ and ‘the quality of our listening to each other’ are inter-related?

So can crime necessarily be linked by race, nationality or tribal or is there something deeper veiled by those words that we are not watching (or listening to)?  What is that?

Are the ways we listen to men (or boys), the same as it would be as listening to women (girls)?

By the way, does anyone have data on the overall budget we spend globally to fight crime?

Should we map the budget spent (including for the judicial systems and then incarcerations) against the crime rates over time (see below for a sample), what would the behaviour suggest to us?

Are we winning?

Do you think it is a battle we can win from the police stations?  Then if not, where?

crime trends

crime trends

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National Article 15: Is one choosing to work because one needs to eat?


Or does one choose to work because one wants to carve a career (to advance the public or private good) for oneself and for others?

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National Article 14: What is the right answer?


Focussing on how one teaches or how one learns?  Can one exclude the other?  Which would lead the other within the school system?

When a student shows he has understood (by his grades) what the teacher has taught him, would that mean he is learning?

Would that mean should the teacher stop teaching (such as when the child leaves school), what would happen to its learning?

Should the student or the child lead the learning instead i.e. when the child seeks it out or is curious to learn (even before the teachers teaches), what would we call that?  Do we have a name for that?  Often we usually do not even go there, because we say we are straying away from the syllabus (the point, the agenda, the plan, the meeting).  Sounds familiar?

An adorably curious kittyyay its adorable, i l...

Image via Wikipedia

It has fascinated me to watch, that should I google for the word “curiosity”, there are two (well three) images that would typically return from the search.

The first is it shows images of cats and their curiosity almost leading the foregone proverb, ‘Curiosity killed the cat’.  I am not sure which one we see more of.  The image or the proverb in our head.

The other often shows pictures of children looking cheekily up the skirt of a woman.  I am not sure whether to frown or to smile with this one.

And the third shows rows of children standing in a straight line within buildings that houses institutions of learning, I mean education.

But I could not easily find any other image to illustrate that word.   Try it out yourself.  Do let us know what you see.

But images and suggestions aside, what would inspire a child to want to be curious to learn?
Because should the child be curious to learn (anything), is there anything that could stop the education decline?

I say inspires because this is different from feeling desperation, meaning should I not learn, the school and eventually the society would leave me behind.  But I do not want to be left behind.  So, I’ll do anything to be number one.  Even if it means having to study under the lights of the street!

We sometimes carry such thoughts into the workplaces, often leading to corruption, underhanded work tactics becoming a way of life and these in turn create a general sense of lethargy and impasse among workmates (because no one wants to be left behind)!  So the consequences of that desperation would often show up as a stalemate.

So what today is killing the willingness of the child to want to be curious to learn?  Where did it start?  The child or the home?

What would encourage it to turn it around for the child?  Is it the child or the adult?

What if what we thought was right is wrong?   Then again, learning is not about arriving at the destination (concluding something is right or wrong) but being willing to be part of a journey.

I have found these two resources inspiring in trying to understand the answers to this question.

  • One is a quaint little book on Toto Chan.  One of the few books in my adult years that I could not put down until I had finished it.  It is touted as a must-read for all educators.Totto Chan: The Little Girl At The Window is a memoir by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi about her childhood, mostly about her days as a student at a unique school called Tomoe Gakuen.  Tomoe is a school for ‘special children’, and Tomoe was taken there by her mother because she was expelled from her first school in the first grade itself, for being a distraction to the rest of the class.  Her mother realizes that what Totto-chan needs is a school where more freedom of expression is permitted.  So she takes Totto-chan to meet the headmaster of the new school, Mr. Kobayashi.  From that moment a friendship is formed between master and pupil.Totto Chan, the name by which Tetsuko was fondly called, took to Tomoe instantly. Which child would not – when the classrooms are made of old railroad cars that are no longer in use? Tomoe is run by an exceptional headmaster, Mr. Kobayashi, who had extensively studied the imparting of ‘knowledge’ to children, rather than the imparting of ‘education’.The book goes on to describe the times that Totto-chan has, the friends she makes, the lessons she learns, and the vibrant atmosphere that she imbibes.  All of these are presented to the reader through the eyes of a child. Thus the reader sees how the normal world is transformed into a beautiful, exciting place full of joy and enthusiasm.  The reader also sees in their role as adults, how Mr. Kobayashi introduces new activities to interest the pupils. One sees in Mr. Kobayashi a man who understands children and strives to develop their qualities of mind, body and heart. His concern for the physically handicapped and his emphasis on the equality of all children are remarkable. In the school, the children lead happy lives, unaware of the things going on in the world.  World War 2 has started, yet in this school, no signs of it are seen.  But one day, the school is bombed, and was never rebuilt, even though the headmaster claimed that he looked forward to building an even better school the next time round. It was never done and this ends Totto-chan’s years as a pupil at Tomoe Gakuen.Tomoe was criticised by many for not being a conventional kind of school. Children were encouraged to study whatever subjects they liked first, they were taken to ‘field kitchens’ and ‘farming lessons’ to learn the practical aspects of cooking food and farming, first hand. The headmaster personally saw to it that the meals of all the kids was nutritious and balanced.  The headmaster knew the children in and out, and the children were so comfortable with him that they fought with each other for a chance to get on to his lap and climb on his back!  The headmaster personally saw to it that no child developed complexes, and no child felt any different from the rest.  This and much more was special at Tomoe.  If you are always one for practical education, you would like this book, which is all about ’free teaching” and ‘practical learning’?It was Tomoe that brought out the best in Totto Chan, as it did in a lot of other children. It was Tomoe that made Totto Chan what she bacame – an eminent TV personality in Japan. Tomoe was indeed a special school, and Mr. Kobayashi was indeed a gifted headmaster.

    Sounds impossible? It might, but it was not. Such a school actually existed in Japan before it met a rather sad end. The famous TV personality of Japan, Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, actually studied in Tomoe. The epitome of kindnes, love for children – Mr. Kobayashi – was really the headmsater of Tomoe.

  • The other must be this.  It is a publication by Dr Sandra Seagal called Human Dynamics: A New Framework for Understanding people and Realizing the Potential on Our Organizations presents a new body of work that identifies fundamental distinctions in people’s functioning — including distinctions in how people communicate, learn, problem-solving, exercise leadership, function on teams, become stressed, maintain wellness, and develop, personal, interpersonal and trans-personal.  The insights and tools that the book offers for enhancing the quality and efficiency of organizations are equally applicable in the context of family life. The book also indicates the significance of this new body for the fields of education, health care, and cross-cultural bridge-building.  The short of it.  She basically says that our personality distinctions (and our learning styles) are hard-wired at birth centred as either as physical, emotional or mental functioning.  In total there are nine distinct types of which five are dominant across the world.  Three in the western hemisphere an up to parts of Central Asia and two in the eastern hemisphere (and including Africa).  These distinctions play out differently in the ways we learn from and / or teach to others.

Human Dynamic Book

Love to hear your reactions to these publications!

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National Article 13: Once it starts, it does not know how to stop!


Maybe somethings are best if we did not start them at all!

But the ball has been running since there were men (and women) – kind.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_missing_graph/4647545119/lightbox/

Hmm ….

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National Article 12: Maybe the name ‘football’ is misleading


Striker Ilja Venäläinen (#10, in yellow) of Ku...

Image via Wikipedia

Because one foot really cannot make a difference to the game till the team is willing to work as a team but more importantly works to defend for its nation.  Yet we all relish that one foot that kicks “the dream goal” to reality!  It is what glues us all to the set and the field, is it not? It is what inspires the “next Pele”.  It is because of that special moment that football clubs around the world hope to attract millions of dollar to its doors: http://www.flickr.com/photos/the_missing_graph/4606501458/lightbox/

Heads of States are no exceptions either.  They play into the notion too.  They load promises of pomp and glory to the boys that bring the cup back home or scores the most hits into the opponent’s net.  We even have special awards just for the best player.  More often than not, it goes to the striker!  For that magic foot – ball.

Yet football cannot be won by strikers alone.  This is especially so when the defence is weak.  And it is not difficult to see that the quality of the defence can bring the best striker and even the team down.

Association football (soccer), Bloomington, In...

Image via Wikipedia

What makes a team strong in its defence?  Is it the promise of rewards of winning?  That’s for the striker!  It is easy for a striker to connect a reward with a strike into the net.  The more strikes that are in the more are the rewards.  That’s easy to figure.

But what about the defence?  The defence does not strike in.  It defends or strikes a ball  out!  What moves one to fight for that?  What do you think?

What stops the defence from leaving the defence wide open?  Without  a strategy?  We can’t use rewards to motivate something we do not want.

So then what else will?

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National Article 11: A Case of Productivity! Really?


It is classic!

Perhaps we are working longer number of hours but we are also not the most productive.

How is that possible?

Data extracted on 25 Feb 2012 16:34 UTC (GMT) from OECD.Stat
Data from 1979: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/34/42/35205504.pdf
Frequency Annual
Time 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending Sort ascendingSort descending
Country
AustraliaInformation on item 1 780 1 739 1 732 1 737 1 732 1 727 1 719 1 712 1 717 1 690 1 686
AustriaInformation on item 1 658 1 657 1 652 1 658 1 663 1 652 1 642 1 632 1 620 1 581 1 587
BelgiumInformation on item 1 545 1 577 1 580 1 575 1 549 1 565 1 566 1 560 1 568 1 550 1 551
CanadaInformation on item 1 775 1 768 1 747 1 736 1 754 1 739 1 738 1 738 1 728 1 700 1 702
ChileInformation on item 2 263 2 242 2 250 2 235 2 232 2 157 2 165 2 128 2 095 2 074 2 068
Czech RepublicInformation on item Information on cell 2 092 2 000 1 980 1 972 1 986 2 002 1 997 1 985 1 992 1 942 1 947
DenmarkInformation on item Information on row 1 581 1 587 1 579 1 577 1 579 1 579 1 586 1 570 1 570 1 559 ..
Estonia 1 987 1 978 1 983 1 985 1 996 2 010 2 001 1 999 1 969 1 831 1 879
FinlandInformation on item Information on cell 1 751 1 733 1 726 1 719 1 723 1 716 1 709 1 706 1 704 1 673 1 697
FranceInformation on item Information on row 1 591 1 579 1 537 1 533 1 561 1 557 1 536 1 556 1 560 1 554 ..
GermanyInformation on item 1 473 1 458 1 445 1 439 1 442 1 434 1 430 1 430 1 426 1 390 1 419
GreeceInformation on item Information on row 2 121 2 121 2 109 2 103 2 082 2 086 2 148 2 115 2 116 2 119 2 109
HungaryInformation on item Information on row 2 057 2 011 2 019 1 990 1 993 1 993 1 989 1 985 1 986 1 968 1 961
IcelandInformation on item Information on row 1 885 1 847 1 812 1 807 1 810 1 794 1 795 1 807 1 807 1 716 1 697
IrelandInformation on item 1 719 1 713 1 698 1 671 1 668 1 654 1 645 1 634 1 601 1 549 1 664
IsraelInformation on item .. .. .. .. 1 905 1 989 1 887 1 921 1 898 1 889 ..
ItalyInformation on item 1 861 1 843 1 831 1 826 1 826 1 819 1 815 1 816 1 803 1 772 1 778
JapanInformation on item 1 821 1 809 1 798 1 799 1 787 1 775 1 784 1 785 1 771 1 714 1 733
KoreaInformation on item 2 512 2 499 2 464 2 424 2 392 2 351 2 346 2 306 2 246 2 232 2 193
LuxembourgInformation on item 1 662 1 646 1 635 1 630 1 586 1 570 1 580 1 515 1 555 1 601 1 616
MexicoInformation on item 1 888 1 864 1 888 1 857 1 849 1 909 1 883 1 871 1 893 1 857 1 866
NetherlandsInformation on item 1 435 1 424 1 408 1 401 1 399 1 393 1 392 1 388 1 379 1 378 1 377
New ZealandInformation on item 1 828 1 817 1 817 1 813 1 828 1 811 1 788 1 766 1 750 1 738 1 758
NorwayInformation on item 1 455 1 429 1 414 1 399 1 417 1 420 1 414 1 419 1 423 1 407 1 414
PolandInformation on item 1 988 1 974 1 979 1 984 1 983 1 994 1 985 1 976 1 969 1 948 1 939
PortugalInformation on item 1 765 1 769 1 767 1 742 1 763 1 752 1 757 1 727 1 745 1 719 1 714
Slovak RepublicInformation on item 1 844 Information on cell 1 833 1 780 1 734 1 774 1 785 1 779 1 793 1 790 1 738 1 786
SpainInformation on item Information on row 1 731 1 727 1 721 1 706 1 690 1 668 1 656 1 636 1 647 1 653 1 663
SwedenInformation on item 1 642 1 618 1 595 1 582 1 605 1 605 1 599 1 618 1 617 1 602 1 624
SwitzerlandInformation on item 1 688 1 650 1 630 1 643 1 673 1 667 1 652 1 643 1 640 .. ..
TurkeyInformation on item 1 937 1 942 1 943 1 943 1 918 1 936 1 944 1 911 1 900 1 881 1 877
United KingdomInformation on item 1 700 1 705 1 684 1 674 1 674 Information on cell 1 673 1 668 1 670 1 665 1 643 1 647
West GermanyInformation on item 1 451 1 439 1 428 1 422 1 426 1 419 1 416 1 420 1 417 1 379 1 409
United StatesInformation on item 1 836 1 814 1 810 1 800 1 802 1 799 1 800 1 798 1 792 1 768 1 778
Russian FederationInformation on item 1 982 1 980 1 982 1 994 1 994 1 990 1 999 2 000 1 997 1 973 1 976
OECD countriesInformation on item 1 818 1 802 1 794 1 785 1 783 1 782 1 779 1 773 1 767 1 741 1 749

But wait!  Read between the lines.  It tells us something more that is not obvious immediately!

Pascal Marianna, who is a labour markets statistician at the OECD says: “The Greek labour market is  composed of a large number of people who are self-employed, meaning farmers and shop-keepers who are working long hours.” Self-employed workers tend to work more than those who have specified hours in an employment contract.

The second reason Mr Marianna points to is the different number of part-time workers in each country. “In Germany, the share of employees working part-time is quite high. This represents something like one in four,” he says.  As these annual hours figures are for all workers, the large proportion who work part-time in Germany is bringing down the overall average.

In Greece, far fewer people work part-time. If you account for these factors by stripping away part-time and self-employed people and look only at full-time salaried workers, the Greeks are still working almost 10% more hours than the Germans.

What do you notice?
Question:
  1. Which of the two countries do you notice has people who are willing to work for and with others.  Which one is not as willing to do so?  Would that be Germany or would it be Greece?
  2. Which country do you think is more likely to go into debts.  Those whose people could work with each other or those who prefer to work alone?
  3. So, is the story of debts in Greece a surprise or had it all along been ‘a bomb waiting to go off!’?  But the world did not know better?
  4. Which countries in your view would see their revenues far exceeding their costs?  Which ones would not?
  5. What is the price we are paying as a nation?  As the world with the Greece bailouts!

26 February 2012 Last updated at 01:05 GMT Are Greeks the hardest workers in Europe?

By  Charlotte McDonaldBBC News

Europe’s top 10 and bottom 10

Most hours worked Most productive Least hours worked Least productive
1 Greece Luxembourg Netherlands Poland
2 Hungary Norway Germany Hungary
3 Poland Ireland Norway Turkey
4 Estonia Belgium France Estonia
5 Turkey Netherlands Denmark Czech Rep
6 Czech Rep France Ireland Portugal
7 Italy Germany Belgium Slovakia
8 Slovakia Denmark Austria Greece
9 Portugal Sweden Luxembourg Slovenia
10 Iceland Austria Sweden Iceland
The UK ranks 14th both in terms of hours worked and in terms of productivity
Source: OECD
English: OECD member states. Founding member s...

Image via Wikipedia

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National Article 10: Do we have “systems” to measure performance because we have lost beliefs in ourselves and others and we cannot talk about the loss?


Without  a belief in oneself and others can we really expect to see performance by oneself, the organization and the country (what about the region, the world) improve over time?

Should, let us say for the sake of argument, that we do not believe in ourselves and others, is there a price that we would end up paying?  What is that?

Should we first :

  1. Setup a system to measure performance?
  2. Wonder what is eroding the beliefs in ourselves and others, what caused it and then work on recovering those beliefs?

Let’s assume we do share  those beliefs with each other.  Would it then become easier for us to set up performance management systems for ourselves and others?  What would they look like then?

Which should come first?

Measurement C

What do you think?

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Regional Article 9: Systemic Development of Industries in a Nation. What would that look like?


Is there such a thing as systemic development of industries?  We can tell what systematic is.  Yes?

But what about systemic development of industries?

Let us take a context.

Let us say we wish to see the industry of dairy production grow within the country.

What needs to happen that would enable the sustained development of this industry.  Now

Milk and cooky

Milk and cooky (Photo credit: Salim Virji)

notice two things:

The first, notice I did not say a dairy company but rather I referred to the industry.  This means it has effects on the nation .  That means more dairy companies are  likely to succeed better as a result the industry is growing.  When we take care of ‘the whole’, ‘the whole’ takes care of the parts.

The second, when we say it is successful, in this work, we would need to define it.  We would expect to see the following happen:

  1. Levels of production rises consistently over time (it rises persistently and resists or buffers itself against significant downfalls) given populations are rising
  2. As such levels of revenue rises  consistently over time
  3. Levels of costs per unit production declines  consistently over time

Yes?  Is that how you see it too?  These are what I meant by the systemic development of dairy production in the county.

Growth of the Dairy Industry (for the Country)

Therefore, what needs to happen for all the above to happen for dairy production?

Well …..

Holstein dairy cows from http://www.ars.usda.g...

Image via Wikipedia

Dairy or milk comes from cow.  So, to see dairy production grow in the country, while anything else may or may not happen, we cannot expect it to grow without first also seeing the growth of the number of dairy cows produced within the country.

On the other hand, should we see a decline of the number of these cows (because we sell the cows so that we may pay school fees), then we can also expect to see a decline in the level of dairy milk produced in the country.

What do you notice by these discussions?  Is this line of thinking the same as systematic thinking?

Did you say, no?  Well, you are right!

So here’s the next question, what would make sure the systemic development of the dairy cow industry grows within the county?

Growth of the Dairy Cow Industry

You know the drill now!

What do cows (anywhere) need?

Fodder?  Meaning, that the level of fodder produced needs to grow so that we are able to produce more dairy cows.  Usually we do it the other way around!  We say well, there is not enough (supply, given demand for) fodder.  The market says that the demand is growing and then, it (the market) tries to scramble to ‘close the gap’.

When demand drives supply, that’s a sign of non-systemic development of the nation.   But in a systemic relationship it is the supply that leads demand.  Notice it does not drive it.  It facilitates.  It just makes it easier.  It respects the order in which causality happen.

English: Distributing TMR (Total Mixed Ration)...

Image via Wikipedia

So, therefore before we expect to see the number of dairy cows grow in the country, we should first expect  to see the number of companies that produce fodder grow within the country.  This needs to happen before anything else does, almost to a fault.

When that industry grows (production levels rise at lower units costs), the amount of fodder available in the country also grows.  Therefore, as a result, it will not become difficult for the cows to “eat and go forth and multiply“.  And when it does, the dairy production levels in the country would naturally increase. This happens even without needing the government to take actions to intervene.  This will also add up to lower costs in running the government.

What’s the next question?

Did you say, what would it take for the fodder industry to grow over time?  You are right!  Now we can see, you’ve got the drill.

Growth of the Fodder Industry

Where does fodder come from?

You are right.  Crops!  Fodder is often the by-product or the remnants of crops once humans have used it for their consumption.

English: Fodder crop

Image via Wikipedia

So what are we saying here?  For dairy production to grow within the county, we need to first see the growth of crops produced in the country, grow as an industry.  When that does not happen, and should it instead decline, then the fodder industry declines, which in turn leads to dairy cow production declining which in turn reduces dairy production or makes it difficult to take off for the country.

So what causes crop production to grow in the country?

Which one of the following, in your view, when it is available makes it easier for crop production to grow?  Which of the following would we need to see available?:

  • Land
  • Water
  • Seeds
  • Fertilizer or
  • Is would it be the willingness of people to grow crops for cattle?

Growth of the Crop Industry

However should crop production be the primary domain of the female gender in the country, that is, she decides when, how much and what crops to grow, it is possible she may not be willing to grow crops for cattle.  This is because her primary focus and need is to grow crops to put food on her table, for her children!  Not for the world!  And certainly not for the cattle.

So, therefore which gender do you think should become involved in crop production, so that dairy production would grow in the country?

Should it be led by the mind of man or the mind of a woman who should lead this effort?   Does it differ or not at all?

The mind of the man is typically designed to ‘feed the world’.  There are exceptions, but always look at the rule.  The mind of the woman is there to help nurture (of feed) her child (not the child of another woman!)  Do not fight that or we risk not having mothers for our children.

Who therefore do you think cannot absolve himself from crop production for the county?

Rice production in China

Image via Wikipedia

When the man becomes involved in crop production, we would now be able to feed milk to our children (including the children of the women who did not wish to grow crops for the cattle).  Also, men, unlike women, will inherently (even if it is just sheer strength in their muscles) to till, sow for multiple seasons and harvest larger expanses of land.  This situation is there in the likes of China, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, South America for generations, where production of crops is the domain of the male gender.  This has also has a positive impact on the water cycle .   This means that as more amounts of the land is fertile for crops, such lands in turn encourages more frequent levels of rainfall for the country.

Is the amount of land, water, seeds, fertilizer available therefore consequential in the story.  It really is not.   It becomes consequential when I focus on  my company.  But not from a systemic development of industries and the nation.

So if I focused on changing things that are happening in my company, would that be enough to turn things around for the nation?  The parts separately cannot take care of “the whole”.

Hmm …. what would we have to do differently today so that we as men, women and children can see these together as a nation?

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National Article 8: Do we demand pay increments based on what we need to spend on or ….


… what we did to give in generating the revenue or increasing it and more importantly sustaining the increase (so we know we got it right!) so that it would allow the country (or organizations) to pay us increments?

What contributes to the  revenue rising?

More sales (not increased prices – that is not real) and reduced costs, you say?  Sure.

So, let’s go back again.  When should we demand pay increments?

So should the revenue of the country decline, can we prove an increase in pay?

Yet why do such behaviours happen (or why do we let it happen) over and over again?

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National Article 7: Is Job Descriptions a cover-up for hiding otherwise our fears or our aspirations at the workplace?


And bound by a belief that our views of the world and our aspirations cannot be ‘brought out into the world for others to see’?

Job descriptions, yes they describe the job we do or that someone should do.  But it is that ubiquitous clause at the end that always says, ‘To carry and obey all lawful orders of persons who have authority either over or within …. or sometimes put more simply: ‘And any other jobs as delineated by the supervisor’ that really nails the deal.

It defines who is the boss, I mean the real parent / master, and who is the child (might I say ‘slave’).

Yes, on a day-to-day basis it lays out clearly the tasks that the supervisee will carry out for the supervisor and serves as a document that makes it clear why payment should either be or not be made out depending on the services carried out as per the document.

There is no dispute to use of that document and its validity for doing so.

It is the effects they have in placing someone ‘in his place’ that we would need to watch out for in the long-term.

[More …. soon.]

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National Article 6: When things go wrong, should we “go after” the supply or the demand?


Remember, without demand there will be no supply.  At the marketplace it is the demand (overt or otherwise) that drives supply!

Take anything:

  • Peddling of fake sex drugs
  • Peddling of counterfeit cigarettes
  • Peddling by  prostitutes
  • Addiction to gambling
  • Addiction to alcohol consumption
  • Addiction to smoking
  • Rise of HIV/AIDs epidemic
  • Rise of inflation
  • Price wars
  • Availability of food
  • Availability of water

Can you think of more?

Is going after supply ever going to solve the problem, or do we really do it to help boost the country’s government revenue (charge the one who charges!)?  Or do we do it because it is just easier than going after demand?

When would we solve (once and for all) the problem?

Chasing the supply?  Or the demand?

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National Article 5: Is life one big party … and then four days of study? When do we learn? Or did the dead cat just killed our curiosity?


“What would it take to see the levels of education in the country rise without having the need to set standards (and the government having to invest in) for it?”

Hmm …. have we thought of this question?  As a country?

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

To appreciate the question, first we will need to find out what is causing the standards of education to go down persistently!  Or did we choose not to ask (or think about) the question, because we thought it was a non-starter?  Or we just did not go “there” to think?

That is to stand back and wonder that us and perhaps generations before us had worked hard to set up whole institutions (in the adult world) and invested resources  just so to remind us and if not, to correct falling standards of education.  To do so we would have put in place measurements to make sure standards stay up.

This is different from what we would otherwise like to see happen for our children (in the child world), i.e. to see our child reach out for  rising levels of educational standards.  Yes?

So we (the adult) work hard to teach, but they (the child) are not learning?

So, what causes standards of education to go down despite having had measures, standards, resources, infrastructure to prop it up for these years?  Has anyone counted how much we have already spent?  Within the country?  As a globe?  Since post WWII?  That is 50-60 years.  How many dropped out of school compared to those who have acquired PhD?

REALITY NO. 1:

How has levels of education compare with the investments placed into it.  Did you say, it has gone down not as expected?  How does the trend of resources compare?  It has gone up?  Hmm … that does not make sense, does it?

So what went wrong?

What would instead cause things to turn around to see levels of education go up?

But if we asked that question, then our attention would shift to the teachers (the adults).  Yes?  It is one adult world (parents) talking to another (the teachers).

Then if so, what is the question we should ask, so that our attention is on where it matters?   The learners (or the minds of the learners (the child)).

So what is stopping or preventing the child from wanting to / being willing to learn?

Because once we have figured that out, there would be no stopping in the standards of education reached by the children.  They would easily outstrip and standards we set for the teachers.  Yes?

Except which is easier to manage?  The motivations of the teacher or that of the student?

But taking the easy way out would usually leads us back into the problem.

REALITY NO. 2:
It would be great to transpose the following trends showing revenues and numbers gained at (indicative of where the adults’ attention may have been) over the years:
  • Brewery and prescription drug industry (it would have been great to learn also the number of school going persons who consume (regardless that they buy) alcohol)
  • Contributions to and attendance at religious groups
  • Participation at sports and recreation
  • Level of livestock births and consumption (+sales)
  • Level of petroleum / gasoline / transport / construction industry growth
  • Level of litigation cases filed at courts around the country (divorces, land issues, crime, property, business contracts, corruption, etc.)
  • Level of population level changes (by districts) = Births (showers), deaths (funerals), marriages (weddings, engagements, showers)
  • teacher number changes (we can see the student number changes are going down – that’s interesting! – where are they going?)
I suspect the trends in these areas will not be heading downwards (like the school grades).  Instead it may even show a strong positive trends.  What happens or consumes the adult in the adult world and takes him or her away from the child has an impact on the child learning world!
It is almost like saying, Reality No. 2 is growing at the price of Reality No. 1.
Students do however need adults (parents, older brothers and sisters) around them, to help them understand the subjects (of the adult world: Chemistry, Development Studies, Mathematics, Accounts, etc. ) they are learning (including the teachers but not limited to them) and not merely focus on grades.  Teacher at times (especially in the developing world) defer her success exclusively to the commitment by student almost to a fault.  Yet the child is learning from and about the adult world.   A world she did not come from.  One cannot say that the student should learn because the course objectives have been laid out for the child.   Adults need to also take it as their responsibility to make success happen for their child  with the child.  Rather than say, if she does not pull up her sock, she will just end up like me.  And then leave it.
And if parents are busy dealing with reality 2, it gets in the way of the child’s learning.  Learning is systemic.  But I am sure we would still hear our (parents) voices in the media and in parliament blaming everyone else for the downfall of our child’s grades.
This interrelationship points to an important element to bring a systemic awareness of what helps a child learn in totality.  The child is not here to fend the family only.  This is I suspect is perhaps the reason where most male students may end up in when they drop out of school early.  In the developing world they would move into to herd livestock or in the developed world, they may succumb to addiction of substances (e.g. alcohol).  These boys are now lost to the growth of the nation.  We may also see more female students compared to male students graduate the school system, which means more teachers in the teaching system would eventually become women.  This can have an effect to crowd out the male students even further.
Well, we can almost “throw in the towel” and say we can’t have everything.  But “You can have your cake and eat it too, but not at once”.  There is an order in which causality happens.  Not all Ministry can vie to be #1 at the same time.  The easy way out  will then try to prevail.  There is an order in which it needs to happen.
A thought going forward
It would be interesting to see if we bring together parents and community across the school grades:
  • Take parents of students with Grade A* and have them have conversations side-by-side with typical teachers as well as parents of  students with Grade C or D or E.  For the latter, take parents who went through their experience a few years back – as their emotions would have flared down and they are better able to see what has been happening for their child.
  • Keep these conversations running for several months, if not years.  No media.  Just understanding.  Listening, asking questions and understanding.  Keep repeating the exercise.  That’s all you’d need to do.
  • This is different from meetings at the Community Hall between the Ministry and the community leaving the Ministry or the parent to defend their side.  This will otherwise encourage defensiveness on both sides, but no systemic learning by the parents, children and the Ministry.  The only result?  Just defensiveness and more pushing of the Ministry of Education, school heads, teachers and another round of Performance Management Systems.  The former conversation is an opportunity for learning by the country.  But keep it quiet.  Do not push it.  Otherwise, if not done carefully, it can agitate the system.  Slower is faster so we can understand how our cures do not make the disease worse.
  • Do not link this activity directly with these results.  I am sure the Ministry will figure that out.  That calls for creativity.

Not the fireman!

How much will this action cost us?  I suspect it would cost us almost next to nothing to bring about a systemic change!
How much would it have otherwise cost us?  As a nation?  As a globe?

I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on.  Life was meant to be lived. Curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.

Eleanor Roosevelt

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Regional Article 4: Are hurricanes haphazard or is there a deliberateness in their behaviour?


Looking at the picture above, what do you think?

It really is not as haphazard as we think, is it?  There is an order.

Clue:  Look towards the right where they start.

What do you notice about the land in the areas?  Do they tend to be green or brown?

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National Article 3: Lands of ‘Princesses’ and ‘Prostitutes’!


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Are the two worlds really that different or is there just a thin line that is separating the two?

Are these two worlds defined by the women or by the men or by both or by persons beyond the man and the woman?

I had a surreal experience yesterday.

I was on my way to an engagement party and I had my usual driver help me get to the venue which was an hour’s drive away.  My driver, in his late 30’s or early 40’s, over time has grown accustomed to using the time he has me in his car to share his concerns that he finds in his life and as a sounding board for his thoughts.  As the journey continued, the conversation turned to ‘what does a woman want from her man’?   He asked, “is it a roof over their heads or a box of chocolates from him?”  Well, I said, “while the box of chocolate may not be the same as a roof over their heads, but if she also receives a box of chocolate from him, it helps her see him as more than a provider for the family to also the lover in her life”, I said.

At soon as those words left my mouth, it felt like a cannon had suddenly been let loose within the car!  He became rattled and began by saying “such days have long gone”.  Well, I added, “you would not want her to see you as her father or brother, would we?”  He continued to disagree.  He then shares, that had I known better, I would know that “it is not unusual for the women in the country to “keep small houses by their side”.  While she may have the ‘main meal’ with her husband, she continues to enjoy ‘side dishes’ with other men”.  He adds that having come to know about that part of her life, it is making it difficult for him to relate towards her as her husband and as the only man in her life.  He then repeated several times that it is not easy for a man to give flowers and chocolate to “a prostitute”.  He for now is choosing to live a life separate from his wife, even choosing not to eat within the same house.  Deep in my heart, I knew “he was crying inside” and I ended that part of the conversation with “this may have been a chance for her to learn to turn into a woman, a chance another man may not do it for her, except you”.

Half an hour later, we arrive at the home where my hosts were hosting an engagement party for their twenty-something year old daughter.

And then, almost in an instant, it looked like I had walked from one world into another world – a world ‘fit for a princess”.  The place was teeming with men and women working side-by-side, putting together the venue for an evening of merriment and joy in celebration of exchanging and  accepting the dowry between the groom and the bride’s family an event which was held earlier in the morning.  I sat by the corner, watching and soaking in as much of the buzz of the evening and location.  It was all new to me here.  The women were washing plates and dishing food and drinks out to the guests who were arriving and laying tablecloths on the tables  The men were preparing the firewood that was going to part of the braai stands that would grill enough meat for an anticipated guests of 500 to 600 persons.  Perhaps even a 1000.  Elders were playing out their traditional roles receiving the bridal parties on both sides and observing the protocols of the day.  Meanwhile tiny tots scaled the length and breath of the venue adding colour and vibrancy to the occasion with their spanking new clothes and their chirping voices.  Nothing over the top.  Only sheer joy meandering all around in the togetherness.

Two hours later and when the venue, food and the guests were set, the bride walks in, in the arms of her fiance.  He was beaming from ear to ear eager to show his bride off to the world.  Both of them took the main stage and sat on their assigned seats (well, I actually want to mean ‘thrones’).  She sat on her side, glancing from the corner of her eyes and chatting at her fiance from time to time, while taking in the whole place and the evening and how it has been laid out in front of her.  She did not hold any airs about her but smiled sweetly knowing she was being treated like a princess from her groom to her father.

I sat at my chair within the audience enjoying how much the bride was enjoying the evening.

The next morning, that is today morning, something struck me.

How did I go from, in less than one hour and in a distance of less than 100 km apart, hearing the story of a ‘prostitute’ in the guise of a wife to seeing a princess about to become a wife?

Both assaulting my senses in the same evening.

How did the same land produce both princesses and ‘prostitutes’?  Which one is more?  Which side is growing?  And which side is seeing declining numbers?

Why does this happen?

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Regional Article 2: What really caused the eurozone crisis? BBC News Dec 22, 2011


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As you read the article. notice how many times we broke the laws of dynamic complexity.  These laws govern the nature of dynamic (recurrent problems) complexity.

I see three laws here.  They are laws 8, 6 and 4.   I have listed the laws against the text of the article below and the explanations at the end of the texts.

There are more.

Show us what you see.

“What really caused the euro zone crisis? Dec 22. 2011 BBC News”

World leaders probably spent more time worrying about the euro zone crisis than anything else in 2011.

And that was in the year that featured the Arab Spring, the Japanese tsunami and the death of Osama Bin Laden. What’s more, 2012 looks set to be not much different. But as euro zone governments hammer out new rules to limit their borrowing, are they missing the point of the crisis?

Follow the path to find out.

Continue reading the main story

The euro zone has agreed a new “fiscal compact”

  • Euro zone leaders have agreed to a tough set of rules – insisted on by Germany – that will limit their governments’ borrowing each year to just 3% of their economies’ output. This is to stop them accumulating too much debt, and make sure we avoid we another financial crisis.

But didn’t they already agree to this back in the ’90s?

  • Hang on a minute. They agreed to exactly the same 3% borrowing limit back in 1997, when the euro was being set up.  It was the  German finance minister Theo Waigel who insisted on the “stability and growth pact”. What happened?

So who kept to the rules?

  • Italy was the worst offender. It regularly broke the 3% annual borrowing limit.  But actually Germany – along with Italy – was the first big country to break the 3% rule. After that, France followed. Of the big economies, only Spain kept its nose clear until the 2008 financial crisis; the Madrid government stayed within the 3% limit every year from the euro’s creation in 1999 until 2007. Not only that – of the four, Spain’s government also has the smallest debts to the size of its economy. Greece, by the way, is in a class of its own. It never stuck to the 3% target, but manipulated its borrowing statistics to look good, which allowed it to get into the euro in the first place.  Its waywardness was uncovered two years ago.
  • 3/9 Italy
    Worst offender
  • 5/9 Germany
    First to break rules
  • 6/9 France
    Offender
  • 9/9 Spain
    Top of the Class

But the markets have other ideas

  • So surely Germany, France and Italy should be in trouble with all that reckless borrowing, while Spain should be reaping the rewards of its virtue? Well, no.  Actually Germany is the “safe haven” – markets have been willing to lend to it at historically low interest rates since the crisis began.  Spain on the other hand is seen by markets as almost as risky as Italy.
  • So what gives?

So what really caused the crisis?

  • There was a big build-up of debts in Spain and Italy before 2008, but it had nothing to do with governments. Instead it was the private sector – companies and mortgage borrowers [@1  LAW #8] – who were taking out loans [@2 LAW #4. Interest rates had fallen to unprecedented lows in southern European countries when they joined the euro. And that encouraged a debt-fuelled boom.
  • Good news for Germany…
  • All that debt helped finance more and more imports by Spain, Italy and even France. Meanwhile, Germany became an export power-house after the euro zone was set up in 1999, selling far more to the rest of the world (including southern Europeans) than it was buying as imports. That meant Germany was earning a lot of surplus cash on its exports. And guess what – most of that cash ended up being lent to southern Europe.
  • …bad news for southern Europe
  • But debts are only part of the problem in Italy and Spain. During the boom years, wages rose and rose in the south (and in France). But German unions agreed to hold their wages (and their personal spending) steady. So Italian and Spanish workers now face a huge competitive price disadvantage. Indeed, this loss of competitiveness  [@3 LAW #3 is the main reason southern Europeans have found it so much harder to export than Germany.
  • …and a nasty dilemma
  • So to recap, government borrowing – which has ballooned since the 2008 global financial crisis – had very little to do with creating the current euro zone crisis in the first place, especially in Spain (Greece’s government is the big exception here). So even if governments don’t break the borrowing rules this time, that won’t necessarily stop a similar crisis from happening all over again.
  • Spain and Italy are now facing nasty recessions, because no-one wants to spend. Companies and mortgage borrowers are too busy repaying their debts to spend more.  Exports are uncompetitive.  And now governments – whose borrowing has exploded since the 2008 financial crisis savaged their economies – have agreed to drastically cut their spending back as well [@4 What Law is that?].  But…

Cut spending…

  • …and you are pretty sure to deepen the recession. That probably means even more unemployment (already over 20% in Spain), which may push wages down to more competitive levels – though history suggests this is very hard to do. Even so, lower wages will just make people’s debts even harder to repay, meaning they are likely to cut their own spending even more, or stop repaying their debts. And lower wages may not even lead to a quick rise in exports, if all of your European export markets are in recession too. In any case, you can probably expect more strikes and protests, and more nervousness in financial markets about whether you really will stay in the euro.

Don’t cut spending…

  • …and you risk a financial collapse. The amount you borrow each year has exploded since 2008 due to economic stagnation and high unemployment. But your economy looks to be chronically uncompetitive within the euro. So markets are liable to lose confidence in you – they may fear your economy is simply too weak to support your ballooning debt load. Meanwhile, other European governments may not have enough money to bail you out, and the European Central Bank says its mandate doesn’t allow it to. And if they won’t lend to you, why would anyone else?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16301630

@1    When we state country, the one that comes to mind (obviously), it is the government (and therefore) the public servants are spending (the Ministers must be corrupt , etc.).  But the areas of the highest leverage, the citizen, the family, the industries stayed hidden behind the ‘name of the country’.  Law #8 says, the areas of the highest leverage are often the least obvious.  We need to be understanding this about ourselves and use it to turn the situation around.

@2   Taking loans out, which is borrowing money and spending money we do not have, is easier than freezing wages (and choosing not to spend the money).  Notice what we are avoiding.  We usually do not watch what we are avoiding.  We need to be watching both should we expect to turn a situation around.

@3  Loss of competitiveness shows how things have got worse after some time of seeing things become easier or better.  This indicates that the two (when things got worse and the things that got better) are interconnected.  As we appreciate the interrelatedness of these issues, we now begin to have a handle on the situation.

@4  What law is broken here?  Why do you say that?  Do explore the reasonings with each other.

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Regional Article 1: The choice of vegetation we plant can cause droughts. Are we our own worst enemies?


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The Ministry of Agriculture is noticing the following situation (Case 1, Case 2, Case 3).

We are land that sometimes pray for rains not to come because we do not wish to deal with the inconveniences that come with it.   The mud, the floods, the humidity, the sheer wetness.  Perhaps the only ones who pray (to their pastors) for rains on this land are those who plant crops and that too it is when they do not wish to see their crops dry up in front of their eyes.  Not otherwise.  This will be one time a year.

Otherwise, for the best part of us, we pray for the rain clouds to go away.

Be careful what you wish for.

The less we have rains, the less the rains come back to us over time.  That’s the nature of the vicious water cycles.

We all learned in school about the water cycle.  What we did not realize is, these cycles have a tendency to grow with each iteration.  They either grow positively or negatively.  They do not know how to be status quo or remain at the same levels.   This point was not clear to us in our science and geography classrooms.

History and the reality today:

For the past forty years, the government has invested millions of dollars annually to aid farmers increase their yield of crops produced for the country.  Despite this, and the efforts by all, the country has not been able to meet their targets and is not able to shake off its dependency on importing food from the neighboring countries.  The country continues to have to do so, particularly in areas where raw materials produced in the country (e.g. milk, vegetables, grains, potatoes) for the processing of foods (e.g. for cheese, pesto) continues to face shortages due to low levels of production.

Current Strategy:

Each year, the government’s assistance programmes gear the population up to produce food so that farmers may place food on their tables (food security which included having enough food for guests at funerals and weddings when the villages descended on the events) and money in their pockets from the sales of their produce.  Despite these efforts, they are not helping the nation produce more than enough food to meet the needs of national consumption.  Consumption (the hands that eat) has been and continues to exceed the level of the country’s ability to produce (the hands that produce).  A similar story resonates for production of most raw materials across the country.

Seeing Complexity:

In my effort to understand the behaviour of agricultural production in the country, I then requested for historical annualized data that would allow us to see the behavior of production patters across the country.  To do so, the Ministry, first collected and presented a twelve-year data of various crops produced  in the country and based on the first data, it is now working on collecting data for the past thirty-years.

When the data came through, we noticed a rather unusual behavior of the graphs over time.  This was something most people had not noticed before that.

There was a tendency for one type of crop to show a distinct rise over the years.  The graph showed the crop resisted droughts better and was increasingly successful over time at doing so.  Over time the peaks peaked higher.  This suggested that today compared to ten or thirty years ago, the levels of the crop produced had risen, sometimes by as much as six to ten folds high even if that included farmers finding alternative lands to produce the corps.  This meant the crop had found new lands and hands even as old lands and hands had become barren; often at commercial levels and driven and supported by research efforts to use seeds that had even higher levels of resistance to droughts.  Comparatively, another type of crop  produced in the country showed a steady decline.  It required more water for its survival.  It was becoming less successful over time.  The troughs in the pattern digged deeper troughs each time.

So which one was rising and which one was declining?

The one that was rising was sorghum and the one that was declining was maize.

At the same time, I was receiving data on rainfall levels for the country for the past fifty years.  In general, rainfall levels declined steadily across many parts of the country, particularly in the western, central, northern and southern parts of the country.  Where the pattern showed a distinct difference was in the extreme eastern parts of the country.

Did the results surprise you?  We say in this work, statistics may lie.  But trends do not know how to lie.

Which archetype created the pattern that we saw above: http://www.lopn.net/System_Archetypes.html?

Understanding Complexity: What is causing it?

As these trends were unfolding, the Ministry was also resorting to choosing variants of maize that were hardier and more resistant to survive bouts of lower rainfall.  This would mean, the seeds were able to grow into plants in the likes of sorghum, wheat, oats, barley and hybrid versions of maize without requiring a lot of water for its survival and at a shorter maturing period.

Are these patterns and outcomes a coincident?  Is there a rhyme and reason behind the behaviour of these graphs?

Think cactus.  Cactus is the ultimate form of a drought-resistant plant.  Yet, when we crack open a cactus what do you see?  Water, you say?  Right?  What in your view is the nature of water – is it to flow or to see its flow restricted?  What happens when we store water (and that includes underground water) and not allow the water to ‘flow’?

The more there are deserts, the more there are cacti.  This is what strikes us when we first drive past a desert.  Seeing cactus survive in a desert is a part of the story.  They are sometimes held up as stories of our triumphs against odds.  The reverse is also true.  The more the cacti survive (just like when we as humans believe that we can beat the odds and overcome the challenges of desert living and that gives us a sense of achievement in) the deserts, the more the deserts are likely to also grow even further.  Eventually the cacti (and us) may not survive the desert.   At first the deserts would look like they are semi-arid.  Over time, they become a true desert.  How did that change happen?

So what do you think would happen next in the story for the land should it continue to unfold in this way with sorghum production?  What’s leading that thinking?

Think also the word ‘food security’.  Is the thought based on a sense of belief in oneself (as a farmer) and the land or is a thought or belief based on our fears of failure and survival of the self?  Can a farmer who fears his hands may not grow enough food for all, be able to grow them in abundance?  Or is he likely to produce enough for himself?

What should the nation do?

Which nations in the world share a similar story to this?   Where are they located?  What percentage of the world do they make up across the globe?  In what ways, do you think they may have an impact on the behavior of the weather over time?  So are our efforts at agriculture production really thwarted by global warming or is it the making of our own actions in our own backyards?

Farmland west of Allesley Green Arable land, n...

Baja California Desert in the Cataviña region,...

Question:

  1. Are these patterns accidents or are they systemic?  Sure, they are systemic, given its persistence (stubbornness) for the past thirty years over wide spans of land!
  2. What do these patterns mean? What is causing such patterns to behave the way they do? The peaks to peak higher and the troughs to dig deeper?
  3. What are the implications should these patterns continue the way they do ten, twenty, thirty years into the future?
  4. What would need to happen to reverse the situation?  The choice depends on you!

Course Work:

  1. If we could use the above to understand the story of poverty, what would we see?
  2. How would one draw that systemic archetype?
  3. What continues to happen or build for the long-term should the archetype not be healed and continued to persist?
  4. What would need to happen to reverse the situation?

More notes here: http://www.lopn.net/ST_Casestudy_Growing_A_Nation3_Loop2_EnvironmentSystem.html

Your reactions and comments will be greatly appreciated.

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Hello World!


One day my neighbour as he passed by my garden, noticed how the grass in my garden appeared greener than the ones in his garden.  The next day he approaches his gardener and asks, “Why is the grass in Sheila’s garden greener than the one in mine?”

In all humbleness, the gardener turned to face his boss, and said, “That’s because Sheila feeds her grass with fertilizers (food) that then allows them to turn greener (health)”.

The boss, my neighbour, realized at once what he had to do.

He turns to his gardener, “Come my man, let’s go to the nursery.  We need to get those fertilizers to feed the garden so that the grass on this side will be green as well!”

Newspaper Column Article 22: The Viralness of HIV/AIDs – Part IX: Caring Love for Her. Trusting Love for Him


As it appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard July 28, 2013, edition, Systemic Thinking Column 

When a couple are in conflict, often times we are expecting that our partner to think, act and be like ourselves and meet our needs in the same way we think we should meet theirs.  That’s where we can get this wrong.

The column is currently exploring the link between the state of emotional fidelity that exists between couples and the state of HIV/AIDS prevalence that exists as a nation.  To do so, the article explores the ways how men and women think and feel emotions differently.

When we are aware of the differences, we “are freed from the tendency to change our partners at those times we are not getting what we want.  With a greater level of acceptance and understanding, love flourishes and we get what we want from our relationships,” says the author of “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”, Dr John Gray.

The freedom from the tendency to change partners or retain a “variety of them” now becomes a critical key to seeing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS decline.

This week we continue to explore more of the twelve kinds of emotional love that can exist between a man and woman in love.  Physically, we probably have rather similar needs, the need to appease hunger and thirst, the need to stay warm and for shelter, and so on.

But that’s where the similarities end for the “opposite” genders.  Emotionally, we are like from different planets, so says, Dr John Gray, “Men are from Mars” and “Women are from Venus” and then we met on earth without realizing how we come from two different planets!  Go figure!  And we did not come with a handbook to navigate us through this emotional maze.

Here’s one example of this difference.

A man wants his favourite woman to trust that he can handle whatever is bothering him.  That he can handle his problems is important for his honour, pride and self-esteem.  However for the woman, not worrying about him is difficult for her.  Worrying for others is one way women express their love and caring.  It is a way of showing love.  Go figure but it is true.

For a woman, being happy when the person you love is upset just doesn’t seem right.

Ironically, men show their love by not worrying.

He does not want her to be happy because he is upset, but he does want her to be happy.  It helps him to feel loved by her.  “How can you worry about someone whom you admire and trust?”, a man questions.

But for a woman, she wants him to worry for her when she was upset.  Sometimes, it takes years for a man to figure this distinction.   Without understanding this distinction and if a man minimizes the importance of her concerns, this would make the woman more upset.  Again something that does not make sense from a man’s perspective, but it is true.  Ask your man and woman friends (this can make very interesting conversation over a pint of beer!)

The best comes out in a man when his six primary (yes, there are six of them) love needs are fulfilled.  But when a woman doesn’t know what he primarily needs and give a caring love rather than a trusting love, she may unknowingly worsen their relationship.  Here is a story in point.

The knight in Shining Armour

(Extracted from “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus”).

This is a powerful metaphor to help us remember a man’s primary needs.  Too much caring and assistance will lessen his confidence or turn him off.

Deep inside every man there is a hero or a knight in shining armour.  More than anything, he wants to succeed in serving and protecting the woman he loves.  When he feels trusted, he is able to tap into his noble part of himself.  He becomes more caring.  When he doesn’t feel trusted, he loses some of his aliveness and energy and after a while he can stop caring.

Imagine a knight in shining armour travelling through the countryside.  Suddenly he hears a woman crying out in distress,  In an instant, he comes alive.  Urging his horse to gallop, he races to her castle, where she trapped by a dragon.  The noble knight pulls out his sword and slays the dragon.  As a result, he is lovingly received the by the princess.

As the gate open he is welcomed and celebrated by the family of the princess and the townspeople.  He is invited to live in the town and is acknowledged as a hero.  He and the princess fall in love.

A month later as the noble knight returns from another trip, he hears his beloved princess crying out for help.  Another dragon has attacked the castle.  When the knight arrives he pulls out his sword to slay the dragon.  Before he swings, the princess cries, “Don’t use the sword, use this noose.  It will work better.”

She throws him the noose and motions to him instructions about how to use it.  He hesitantly follows her instructions.  He wraps it around the dragon’s neck and then pulls hard.  The dragon dies and everyone rejoices.

At the celebration dinner, the knight feels he didn’t really do anything.  Somehow, because he used her noose and didn’t use his sword, he doesn’t feel worthy of the town’s trust and admiration.  And the even he is slightly depressed and forgets to shine his armor.

A month later he goes on yet another trip.  As he leaves with his sord, the princess reminds him to be careful and tells him to take the noose.  On his way home, he sees yet another dragon attacking the castle.  This time he rushes forward with his sword but hesitates, thinking maybe he should use the noose.  In that moment of hesitation, the dragon breathes fire and burns his right arm.  In confusion, he looks and sees his princess waving from the castle window.

“Use the poison,” she yells.  “The noose doesn’t work.”

She throws him the poison, which he pours into the dragon’s mouth and the dragon dies.  Everyone rejoices and celebrates, but the knight feels ashamed.

A month later, he goes on another trip.  As he leaves with his sword, the princess reminds him to be careful, and to bring the noose and the poison.  He is annoyed by her suggestions but brings them just in case.

This time on his journey he hears another woman in distress.  As he rushes to her call, his depression is lifted and he feels confident and alive.  But as he draws his sword to slay the dragon, he again hesitates.  He wonders, should I use my sword, the noose or the poison?  What would the princess say?

For a moment, he is confused.  But then he remembers how he had felt before he knew the princess, back in the days when he only carried a sword.  With a burst of renewed confidence, he throws off the noose and poison and charges the dragon with his trusted sword.  He slays the dragon and the townspeople rejoice.

The knight in shining armour never returned to his princess.  He stayed in this new village, married the princess and lived happily ever after.

As the couple learns to meet these differences it prepares the couple to move to the next deeper level of emotional intimacy between them.   Respect.  And Appreciation.  This will be the subject of next week’s column.

In what way does not knowing these differences that exist between a couple have an impact on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS as a nation?

Would this series of causality be different for countries beyond Botswana in instances where the epidemic has become resistant to our effort to intervene it?   Strange as this question may sound, whose mandate is it to understand and “manage” these distinctions?  The medical sector?  The United Nations?  The government?  Who would that be?  What do you think?  What do your friends think?

 

Ms Sheila Damodaran works as a Systemic Strategy Development consultant currently developing her practice with national planning commissions in southern Africa.  She welcomes comments and queries for her programmes at https://www.facebook.com/SystemicThinkingColumnist or call DID: 3931518 or email sheila@loatwork.com.

Newspaper Column Article 21: The Viralness of HIV/AIDs – Part VIII: To de-stress, “Men Go to Their Cave, Women Talk”


As it appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard July 21, 2013, edition, Systemic Thinking Column 

When women talk, it means it is a good sign!  They are actually de-stressing.

Some of the male readers of the column shared they were surprised from the previous week’s column that the act of making social contact (such as talking and seeking to be heard or nurturing activities) for a woman is to a woman what withdrawing or becoming aggressive does to relieve stress for the man.

They had no idea!!!

When a man is stressed, he goes to his cave!  He will withdraw into the cave of his mind and focus on solving a problem.   He generally picks the most urgent problem or the most difficult.  He becomes so focussed on solving this one problem that he for a while loses awareness of everything else.  Other problems and responsibilities fade into the background.  If he can find a solution, instantly he will feel much better and come out of his cave and suddenly he is available for being in a relationship again.

Women handle stress very differently.

She does not know how to go to the cave of her mind.  She talks.  Or she finds activities in which she is taking care of or connecting emotionally with others.  This also stimulates the production of oxytocin for her.

 “An understanding of oxytocin-producing behaviours can completely change the way a man interprets a woman’s behaviour.  For example, when a woman complains she is not getting enough support or feels the need to talk about the problems in her life, it does not mean she does not appreciate what her partner does.   Instead, her behaviour is an indication that she is attempting to cope with stress by increasing her oxytocin levels”

— John Gray, Author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

Generating oxytocin in the work world outside the home does not happen easily as it can be disrupted by the demands of having to make decisions, and set priorities based on bottom line instead of the need of others, and behaving in a professional manner.  These are testosterone producing situations.  Though there is nothing wrong with stimulating testosterone, it does nothing to lower a woman’s stress levels.’

Finding relief through talking.

When women talk about problems, men usually resist.  A man assumes she is talking to him about her problems, because she is holding him responsible.  The more problems, the more he feels blamed.  He does not realize that she is talking to feel better.

She would usually not open up to a man, if she had not felt “safe to do so” with him.  It is a sign of intimacy she is extending to him on her part.  So, if a woman does talk to you, it is a good sign for the relationship.  He will also eventually learn that that she will appreciate him if he just listens.

Men talk about problems for only two reasons: they are blaming someone or they are seeking advice.  Therefore when a woman is really upset, a man assumes she is blaming him.  Then he draws his sword to protect himself from attack.  If he offers solutions to her problems, she just continues talking about more problems.  He finds his solutions have been rejected and he feels unappreciated.  In both cases, he soon finds it difficult to listen.

He does not realize that explanations are not what she needs.  She needs him to understand her feelings and let her move on to talk about more problems.  If he is wise and just listens, then a few moments after she is complaining about him, she will change the subject and talk about other problems as well.

The degree to which a man does not understand a woman is the degree to which he will resist her when she is talking about problems.  As a man learns more how to fulfil a woman and provide her emotional support he discovers that listening is not so difficult.

Men and women learn to live together in peace because they were able to respect their emotional differences.  The men learned to respect that women need to talk to feel better.  Even if he didn’t have much to say, he learned that by listening he could be very supportive of her.

The women learned to respect that unlike themselves, men when they are stressed, needed to withdraw to cope with stress.  The place where he retires to distress was no longer a great mystery or cause for alarm.

Emotionally, the needs of the two genders are opposite.  Yet, that’s exactly what it takes a couple to come together.  As opposite genders, we do not meet in our similarities.  But in our differences.

When a couple are in conflict, often times it happens because we are attempting to meet the needs for them from our respective perspectives.  We think they are the same as ours.  That’s where we get this wrong.

As the couple learns to meet these differences it prepares the couple to move to the next deeper level of emotional intimacy between them.   Respect.  And Appreciation.  This will be the subject of next week’s column.

In what ways does not knowing these differences that exist between a couple have an impact on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS as a nation?  Would this series of causality be different beyond Botswana particularly in instances where the epidemic has become resistant to our effort to intervene it?   What do you think?  What do your friends think?  What do you agree on?  What do you disagree on?

 

Ms Sheila Damodaran works as a Systemic Strategy Development consultant currently developing her practice with national planning commissions in southern Africa.  She welcomes comments and queries for her programmes at https://www.facebook.com/SystemicThinkingColumnist or call DID: 3931518 or email sheila@loatwork.com.

Newspaper Column Article #19: The Viralness of HIV/AIDs – Part VI: The Twelve Kinds of Love


As it appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard on June 30, 2013, Systemic Thinking Column

The column is currently exploring the link between the states of level of emotional fidelity that exists between couples and HIV/AIDS prevalence rates that exists as a nation.

It is difficult to imagine that something that prevails by as much as at a personal level can have an impact at a national level.  Yet, when we observe the phenomena of emotional (rather than of sexual) fidelity that exists from person to person, family to family, district to district, region to region, it is really not all that difficult to imagine or ignore the significance of the influence on the level of the epidemic as a nation.  Viruses are not transmitted in the open.  Just because I do not see they are happening openly, it does not mean the transmissions are not happening.

Source:  Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Dr John Gray

Yet, what is emotional fidelity and what influences it?

In the past weeks we saw that this begins when the couple works at meeting and fulfilling the emotional needs of one’s partner.

And then we discovered that the emotional needs of one’s partner (of the opposite gender) are typically different from that of one’s own.

In fact there are twelve kinds of emotional needs or as we say twelve kinds of love that can exist between a couple.

The figure here illustrates what these look like.  We will start from the top.

When a woman meets and fulfils a man’s need to see his woman trust him, it allows him to grow his sense of belief in himself (when a woman believes in her man, it makes it easier for a man to believe in himself).  This act grows feelings of masculinity that fosters a need within him to provide, protect and care for his woman.

As he cares for his woman in each step of the way; the act releases oxytocin in her body, a powerful hormone that plays a huge role in pair bonding for the woman. When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels drive up for the person.  This allows her to grow her feelings of feminity that allow her to behave truer to her gender as a woman for her man.  This then allows her to grow feelings of trust in her man.

The more that a man cares for his woman, the more she trusts him!

While the couple helps to meet and build the emotional needs of their partner, the cycle behaves in a self-seeking way that reinforces their ability to receive and meet their partners’ needs.  The couple bonds in this way.

This type of relationship does not require moral, physical or monetary obligations to tie it together so as to make it work.

Couples, who learn this subtle shift in difference in the way they see their partner early on in their relationship, are often on their way to realizing greater levels of fulfilment between them.  Making relationships work becomes ‘cheap’.

As the man and the woman enjoy the first of these levels of emotional intimacy between them, they become ready to move on to the next steps in the bonding process.

This is the capacity of the man to understand the woman by listening to the views she expresses from her side of the world.

For the woman, this also means her ability to accept the man for who he is rather than who she wants to be.

Whenever a man changes his ways, be they his views or his actions, it would be on his own terms.  This is not an act of defiance.  It is what defines a man and separates him from the feelings of being a boy or a child.

It is important for a man that he sees his woman accepts him for who he is and not who he needs to be for her.  The more the man feels he is allowed to change on his terms, and sees the woman trusts him to change on his own accord, the more he feels that his woman meets his need to accept him.

So rather, than say, “Why don’t you take the trashcan out?  It is your trash too!” she instead requests of him to “Would you take the trash out?  It would really make a difference to how the house would feel.”  And when he does take the trash out, she then makes a big deal of his action.  Whenever a man does something for his woman, he assumes there is a risk involved as he is not sure if his actions would be wholly accepted by his woman.

When he sees that she accepts whatever he has given to her, it makes him happy.  This happiness is key to him becoming open to requests on her part in the future for things she would like to see happen for herself.

And this is now his capacity to listen to and understand his woman.

It is not an uncommon remark by men amongst men how “women do not stop talking”.  It is really not all that difficult to see this at checkout counters or at restaurants or at government service counters to see service delivery is delayed, because the women staffs are choosing to chat up to a point that it becomes incessant for each other.  It is now placing a dent on the economy.

Women fulfil that need for each other quite easily.  They are programmed to know how to ‘listen to another woman that fulfils this need for her.  Men however are not programmed to listen for the sake of listening.  He is designed to listen so as to take an action.  He is Mr Fix It.  So how would a woman “programme” her man, so that he becomes ready to offer the listening ear she needs to feel she has been understood by her man?

Think about it and we will explore it here in our next column and the impact of meeting these emotional needs on each other as well as for the economy.  We will explore this and more of the remaining twelve kinds of love then.

How true have these experiences been for you?  As a man?  And as a woman?  How would you tell these distinctions exist for each other?  Happy discussing these with your spouse or your girlfriend and discovering from each other!

Ms Sheila Damodaran works as a Systemic Strategy Development consultant currently developing her practice with national planning commissions in southern Africa.  She welcomes comments and queries for her programmes at https://www.facebook.com/SystemicThinkingColumnist or call DID: 3931518.

 

Newspaper Column Article #20: The Viralness of HIV/AIDs – Part VII: Men and women in love meet in our differences – not similarities


As it appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard on June 9, 2013, Systemic Thinking Column

“She’s not my type” or “He is not my type”

Yet, that’s exactly what it takes a couple to come together.  As opposite genders, we do not meet in our similarities.  But in our differences.  Emotionally.

When a couple are in conflict, often times it happens because we are attempting to meet the needs for them from our respective perspectives.  We think they are the same as ours.  That’s where we can get this wrong.

In the past few weeks, we explored while a woman accords trust and accepts her man for who he is, her need is met for her when she sees the man care for her.

The column is currently exploring the link between the state of emotional fidelity that exists between couples and the state of HIV/AIDS prevalence that exists as a nation.

This week we continue to explore more of the twelve kinds of love that can exist between a man and woman in love.

First however, a sharing of interesting reactions by readers of the column.  In the course of the week, I received reactions particularly by women readers who share the extent to which they had placed trust on the man they love and how they accepted him for who is, yet, did not see their relationship last.

In many such instances, we also see the couple enter into sexual relationships very early on in their relationship.  Each story is heartfelt yet interestingly the story line repeats in much the same way across relationships.  In most instances sexual intimacy acted as a substitute for the emotional intimacy that can happen between a couple.  We thought the two types of intimacies are the same.  They are not.

There is a however a trick to helping build emotional intimacies between a couple.  Interestingly however, it is found in the first of the ABCs as advocated by government in their efforts to prevent  HIV/AIDs transmission.  And that is abstinence.  This “tool” serves a double-edged sword.  It could prevent transmissions of the virus.  It also becomes key to building the emotional intimacies between couples.

When the couple is sexually intimate very early on in the relationship, and yet emotional fidelity has not built up between the two, the latter is less likely to happen for the couple.  It can also mean it does not happen for life afterwards for the individual even with other partners.

So it is harder to say ‘we trust or accept someone’ because we have become sexually intimate with that person or for reasons other than for reasons attributed for that individual.  Building a level of emotional intimacy can take months to happen.  It does not survive short spans (over night or weeks) of time.

For emotional fidelity to grow, it needs to happen in a space where the couple have not become sexually intimate as yet.  In instances where the couple are successful in doing so, one would usually find they have taken the time to instead to build emotional intimacy between them.

This would seem harder than it is.  It is more so when reflected against a backdrop of seeming need  African men have to be engaged sexually and women’s fear that should they not give in, one would “lose the man” to the next person.

There is an emotional distinction in the sexual activity intended to build an intimacy with one’s partner and one that helps a man regain his sense of manhood or masculinity.  Can you tell the difference?  In one instance it would feel that the man regained or received his sense of masculinity while the other is where the woman feels she received affection rather than having given in to the man.

The man received and the woman gave.  There is a misfit here.

Women sense of joy comes foremost when they “receive” from their man.  A woman who finds herself giving or giving in to others, will usually find herself falling into depression.  The need to give is now running against her inherent nature as a feminine woman.

A man’s deepest sense of joy comes from giving.  When a man is at the receiving end (as when a woman pays for him financially), he may be happy in receiving the money, but not at the expense of he questioning his sense of manhood even so privately.  He may not present this emotional discomfort in front of the lady.  But it could lead him having the need to seek out more sexual conquests with other women as a means to compensate for declining notions of his manhood.

On the other hand, where women learn to build her partner’s emotional sense of masculinity by meeting his emotional needs (trust and acceptance), she would find that over time , this leads to his need for sustained sexual conquests to decline.  This now allows him to open up to build relationships with his partner emotionally.

And this includes now his capacity to listen to and fulfil a need for his woman that her man “understands” her.  This need is ultimately defined by her when it is met for her.

It is not an uncommon remark amongst men to share with each other how much “women do not stop talking”.  It is really not all that difficult to see this evident at checkout counters or at government service counters or to see service delivery delayed because of the women staffs’ need to talk with each other so as to be heard.  This can sometimes come across as incessant chatting.

It is now beginning to place a dent on the economy.  It is a sign that the man in their lives have not yet fulfilled this need for his woman.

Women easily fulfil this need for each other amongst themselves.  They are programmed to know how to ‘listen to another woman”.  Notice the ways when women talk to each other, how they would listen to the woman and respond by taking what they have heard and relating it to their personal experiences and sharing their reactions to the woman or just showing interest in hearing more of what’s been said.

Men however are not programmed to listen for the sake of listening.  He is designed to listen so as to take an action.  He is Mr Fix It.

So how then would a woman “programme” her man, so that he becomes ready to offer the listening ear she needs to feel she has been understood?

All she would need to start with is a request to her man: “Sweetheart, will you offer me a listening ear?  I do not need you to fix anything.  I had a difficult day at work, and it will mean a lot to me if you’d do just listen.”

A woman would not need to say such to another woman.  But she needs to remember to say that to her man.  We forget this subtle point with the opposite gender.  Now he knows exactly what to DO.  The “fix “for him is to listen.  He relaxes, downs his tools and prepares to listen to his woman.

Most men hesitate to take this step because when he sees that his woman is unhappy he believes the reason for her unhappiness has something to do with him.   And he is not sure what is causing it.  It is a risk for him.

But if she prepares him to listen, and he listens, he will soon discover that all she needed was a sounding board.

When a woman is allowed to express what she hopes her man would hear, two things happen for her.  She begins to calm down as when she sees someone listening to her, it allows her to complete her trains of thoughts that lead her to become clearer of what she needs to do next.  This de-stresses her immediately.  This becomes key to ready her to meet another need for her man.  And that is to appreciate him for what he does for her.  Her attention now turns away from herself (and therefore she stops talking) to her partner.

Don’t forget to appreciate the man for listening to you.  The gesture prepares him to better listen to his woman the next time.

The best gift a man can give to his woman is to offer a listening ear to her.

And the couple learns to meet these differences it prepares the couple to move to the next deeper level of emotional intimacy between them.

Are these how you see these or do you see these differently?

Ms Sheila Damodaran works as a Systemic Strategy Development consultant currently developing her practice with national planning commissions in southern Africa.  She welcomes comments and queries for her programmes at https://www.facebook.com/SystemicThinkingColumnist or call DID: 3931518 or email sheila@loatwork.com.

 

The Viralness of HIV/AIDs – Part VI: The Twelve Kinds of Love


As it appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard on June 30, 2013, Systemic Thinking Column

The column is currently exploring the link between the states of level of emotional fidelity that exists between couples and HIV/AIDS prevalence rates that exists as a nation.

It is difficult to imagine that something that prevails by as much as at a personal level can have an impact at a national level.  Yet, when we observe the phenomena of emotional (rather than of sexual) fidelity that exists from person to person, family to family, district to district, region to region, it is really not all that difficult to imagine or ignore the significance of the influence on the level of the epidemic as a nation.  Viruses are not transmitted in the open.  Just because I do not see they are happening openly, it does not mean the transmissions are not happening.

Source:  Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Dr John Gray

Yet, what is emotional fidelity and what influences it?

In the past weeks we saw that this begins when the couple works at meeting and fulfilling the emotional needs of one’s partner.

And then we discovered that the emotional needs of one’s partner (of the opposite gender) are typically different from that of one’s own.

In fact there are twelve kinds of emotional needs or as we say twelve kinds of love that can exist between a couple.

The figure here illustrates what these look like.  We will start from the top.

When a woman meets and fulfils a man’s need to see his woman trust him, it allows him to grow his sense of belief in himself (when a woman believes in her man, it makes it easier for a man to believe in himself).  This act grows feelings of masculinity that fosters a need within him to provide, protect and care for his woman.

As he cares for his woman in each step of the way; the act releases oxytocin in her body, a powerful hormone that plays a huge role in pair bonding for the woman. When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels drive up for the person.  This allows her to grow her feelings of feminity that allow her to behave truer to her gender as a woman for her man.  This then allows her to grow feelings of trust in her man.

The more that a man cares for his woman, the more she trusts him!

While the couple helps to meet and build the emotional needs of their partner, the cycle behaves in a self-seeking way that reinforces their ability to receive and meet their partners’ needs.  The couple bonds in this way.

This type of relationship does not require moral, physical or monetary obligations to tie it together so as to make it work.

Couples, who learn this subtle shift in difference in the way they see their partner early on in their relationship, are often on their way to realizing greater levels of fulfilment between them.  Making relationships work becomes ‘cheap’.

As the man and the woman enjoy the first of these levels of emotional intimacy between them, they become ready to move on to the next steps in the bonding process.

This is the capacity of the man to understand the woman by listening to the views she expresses from her side of the world.

For the woman, this also means her ability to accept the man for who he is rather than who she wants to be.

Whenever a man changes his ways, be they his views or his actions, it would be on his own terms.  This is not an act of defiance.  It is what defines a man and separates him from the feelings of being a boy or a child.

It is important for a man that he sees his woman accepts him for who he is and not who he needs to be for her.  The more the man feels he is allowed to change on his terms, and sees the woman trusts him to change on his own accord, the more he feels that his woman meets his need to accept him.

So rather, than say, “Why don’t you take the trashcan out?  It is your trash too!” she instead requests of him to “Would you take the trash out?  It would really make a difference to how the house would feel.”  And when he does take the trash out, she then makes a big deal of his action.  Whenever a man does something for his woman, he assumes there is a risk involved as he is not sure if his actions would be wholly accepted by his woman.

When he sees that she accepts whatever he has given to her, it makes him happy.  This happiness is key to him becoming open to requests on her part in the future for things she would like to see happen for herself.

And this is now his capacity to listen to and understand his woman.

It is not an uncommon remark by men amongst men how “women do not stop talking”.  It is really not all that difficult to see this at checkout counters or at restaurants or at government service counters to see service delivery is delayed, because the women staffs are choosing to chat up to a point that it becomes incessant for each other.  It is now placing a dent on the economy.

Women fulfil that need for each other quite easily.  They are programmed to know how to ‘listen to another woman that fulfils this need for her.  Men however are not programmed to listen for the sake of listening.  He is designed to listen so as to take an action.  He is Mr Fix It.  So how would a woman “programme” her man, so that he becomes ready to offer the listening ear she needs to feel she has been understood by her man?

Think about it and we will explore it here in our next column and the impact of meeting these emotional needs on each other as well as for the economy.  We will explore this and more of the remaining twelve kinds of love then.

How true have these experiences been for you?  As a man?  And as a woman?  How would you tell these distinctions exist for each other?  Happy discussing these with your spouse or your girlfriend and discovering from each other!

Ms Sheila Damodaran works as a Systemic Strategy Development consultant currently developing her practice with national planning commissions in southern Africa.  She welcomes comments and queries for her programmes at https://www.facebook.com/SystemicThinkingColumnist or call DID: 3931518.

 

Newspaper Column Article #18: The Viralness of HIV/AIDs – Part V: His emotional needs. Her emotional needs.


As it appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard on June 9, 2013, Systemic Thinking Column

In the previous segment of this column, we concluded it was not as easy for someone to be sexually fidel till one learns to build and enjoy “emotional fidelity” with one’s partner.

It can be easy to miss this point.

Yet it becomes significant when we explore the link between the state of emotional fidelity between couples and the state of HIV/AIDS prevalence as a nation.

How are they inter-related, you ask?

It can be difficult to imagine that something that exists at a personal level can have an impact on a national level.  Yet, when we see the phenomena happen across families, communities, districts to the region, it is not difficult to see that they can and do have a significant and growing influence on the level of the epidemic as a nation.

Our medical caregivers then give their all to fight it for the nation.  It is really admirable how they do so, even when we know we have not made it easy for them.

Last week, we explored that developing emotional fidelity is the exclusive work of the couple.  No one can do that for them.  The parents and the community around a couple may encourage marriage and the ability to stay in one.  But, not much more.  And certainly not foster emotional fidelity.

This aspect therefore, is now beyond “the control” of SADC, or as the national planning commissions or the government or the Ministry of Health, the caregivers, or even as an NGO.  We control what we can.  But till we as couples learn to reach this, leaving the work of beating the epidemic to an outside organization, will not assure us of success in this issue as a nation!

Yet, what is emotional fidelity and what influences it?

We saw that this state begins when the couple works at meeting and fulfilling the emotional needs of one’s partner.

And then we discovered that the emotional needs of one’s partner (of the opposite gender) are typically different from that of one’s own.

For example, when a man sees his woman trust him, it meets an emotional need for the male partner.  And seeing the man give care to his woman meets an emotional need for the female partner.

Both genders need both emotions.  Just not to the same extent.  To feel fulfilled as their gender in the relationship each as a unique emotional need.

When a woman meets and fulfils a man’s need to see his woman trusts him, it allows him to feel more so like a man.  Even when we think, he is not worthy of the trust, the more the man sees the woman learns to see ‘the good side’ of him and trusts him, the more he moves to a state of feeling fulfilled.  This stage is important for his feelings of masculinity to grow for him which in turn fosters a need within him to provide, protect and care for his woman.

While a man can trust his woman, it matters even more so to her, when she sees he cares for her.  The more he cares for his woman; it allows her to feel true to her gender as a woman.  And the more that allows her to grow feminine feelings as a woman; it allows her to grow and give trust to her man.

Wait!

Did we see a cycle of causality that exists between the two genders, in meeting their respective emotional needs?

The more that a man cares for his woman, the more she trusts him!

Period.  This is where the trick lies in bringing a couple together.  It is growing the cycle of meeting their respective but different emotional needs.

The bottom-line is they are not meant to be self-fulfilling nor meant to fulfil in ways that one thinks it should be for the partner from one’s point of view.  But from the view of one’s partner.  No other relationship quite teaches us to learn this point.

We often say relationships are not straightforward.  That statement is truer than we believe.

It is not meant to be.  Otherwise separation and divorces become the only ways out back to our straightforward lives.

The relationships between couples are meant to be cyclical.

The more the woman trusts her man, the more he cares for her.  The more the man cares for his woman, the more she trusts him.

Couples, who learn this subtle shift in difference in their relationship in the way they relate to their partner, often realize greater levels of fulfilment between them.

I then left you with two further questions.

How would we know that these indeed are the respective needs of the two genders?  And who should start first?

Notice when a man or a woman is in a heated discussion with each other, what would the man or woman typically say to the other?  Would the man usually say “just trust me” or would he say, “you do not care for me!”?  Whose voice do you typically hear say these words?  What did you hear in your own relationship?

It is more common for us to hear a woman say, “you do not care for me”, while a man often asks of the woman ‘to just trust him’.  We do leave clues in our relationships about our needs for our partners.  We just need to find them.  When a woman tries to reach her man, it is not because she does not trust him by as much as for her to feel the experience of his assurance of care for her.  This is not a formula.  It is a natural emotional need that exists separately for the two genders.

Who should start first?  Do I wait for my partner to fulfil my emotional needs first before I try to meet his?  Of course, that becomes self-defeating since, by doing so, we have already come from a place of the self rather than for the other.

However, this depends on the extent such needs have been met for the individual from their past relationships.  The less it has been met, the more it becomes important for the partner to meet those needs for his or her partner first.

For example, the first man a woman learned to trust was her father.  However, if she did not enjoy a trusting relationship with her father, it now becomes important that her boyfriend or husband learns to fulfil and meet that need for his woman before he may expect her to learn to trust him.  In time, she will.  One would have to learn to be patient till one reaches that stage.

And then there are five other types of emotional needs that are different for men and women.  Have you found out what they are?

Here, I will leave you with two more each for each gender and they will become the subject of the column’s discussion for next week while you continue to figure what the other remaining three emotional needs are for the respective genders (there are twelve types of love or emotional needs in total …. no one said it was going to be that easy, did they?).

How true are they for you?  How would you tell these distinctions?

Happy discussing these with your spouse and discovering these needs from each other!

Ms Sheila Damodaran works as a Systemic Strategy Development consultant currently developing her practice with national planning commissions in southern Africa.  She welcomes comments and queries for her programmes at https://www.facebook.com/SystemicThinkingColumnist or call DID: 3931518.

 

Newspaper Column #17: The Viralness of HIV/AIDs – Part IV: What Causes Emotional Fidelity?


As it appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard on June 2, 2013

“A relationship does not need the “baggage” we bring to it from our respective pasts.  Yet it serves to remind us
they are there, if we are still carrying them.  Leverage the relationship to work at unloading our baggage together.
The act of doing so clears misunderstandings and brings the two even closer.  Every time.
Conflicts in a relationship are not bad.  90% of the time they are the result of reasons from our pasts.”

In last week’s segment of this column, we concluded it was not as easy for one to enjoy sexual fidelity for oneself till one learns to enjoy “emotional fidelity” with one’s partner.  It is easy to miss this point in the “heat of the moments” but it is hard to ignore this inter-relationship over time.

When emotional fidelity or intimacy is missing between couples, it brings all relationships to an eventual standstill.  It’s usually not just sexual infidelity that causes relationships to crack up.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What is emotional fidelity or intimacy and what does it look like?  What allows a couple to grow it between the two?  Does it happen by accident or is it open to nurturing?  Or does it happen because it is propped up by obligations as a result of the physical relationships that exist between and around them?

Emotional fidelity happens for its own sake and requires effort exclusively on the part of the couple.  Nobody (a child, parents, or wealth) can help do that step for them.  Fortunately or unfortunately.

When I do arrive at this stage of my sessions with participants in understanding the interrelationships between fidelity and prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and I present the question, “What is emotional fidelity or itimacy?”, I get the following responses, each time, without fail:

  1. Trust (that I expect my partner trusts me, or I should be able to trust him)
  2. Care (that my partner cares for me)
  3. Loyalty (that my partner is loyal to me)
  4. Compassion (that my partner shows compassion to me)
  5. Sexual pleasures (that my partner allows me to reach that pleasure for me)
  6. Passion, lust (that I must enjoy these)
  7. Respect (that my partner should respect me)
  8. Love (that my partner should love me)  … we should love each other, but that I’d love him when he shows his love me.
  9. Listens (that my partner listens to me)
  10. …. And so on, more or less in that order.

Interestingly, while the list appears seemingly innocent, take a closer look at it when we include the words that appear in parenthesis.  These are usually not voiced in the first instances.  What do you notice?

We had hoped these emotions would happen for oneself rather than for our partner.  So it would be not be a case by as much of compassion that I present to my partner as much as compassion that I expect my partner shows me.  It is not by as much the respect I accord to my partner, by as much as what I expect my partner to accord to me.  If they do it for me, then I shall do it for them.  Then it becomes mutual.  Otherwise. No!

Yet, relationships thrive, when the attention is on meeting the emotional needs of my partner rather than of myself (and, don’t read this part alone aloud to your partner! (smile).  Read the whole article together, if that is possible).

What are the emotional needs of my partner?  Would they be the same as mine?

Let me present two words here.  “Care” and “Trust”.  Both words describe emotions.  But which word describes best an emotion that when that need is met for her, helps her feel even more so like a woman.  And a man a man.  Both emotions are needed, but which one stands apart for each gender?

Would that emotion be care or trust for a woman?  Most can agree and men are quite clear of it each time, that a woman feels most like a woman is when she sees “her man cares for her”.  Yes, mothers ‘take care of their sons and daughters’.  But when the daughter grows up and she has her own children, and may take “care of her son”, she is happiest when she receives care from her husband or boyfriend.

And a man feels at his best, when he sees that his woman “trusts him”.  Sometimes, as women we do to others what we expect them to do for us.  And so, she may end up ‘taking care of him’, thinking should the more she ‘cares for him’ that more he would ‘take care of her’.

But a man does not need care from his woman.  Otherwise he sees his mother in his woman.  He needs our trust which would allow him to grow and feel more so like a man.  The less he enjoys the trust from his woman, the less he learns to feel like a man.  And therefore “stays as a ‘boy’ to be taken care of”.  This stunts his emotional development as a man.

How can we be sure these are indeed what best describes the emotional needs of the respective genders?  How do we tell?  Think what we notice happen in our own relationships?

Also men and women keep different scoring systems.  When a man does an act of ‘giving’ to his woman, the score he accords for his act depends on the size of the gift.  If say the man takes his woman for a vacation, in his books he has scored a lot of points.

But the woman keeps a different scoring system.  Be it the gift is big or small, she accords one point.  So, if the man brings her 24 roses or 1 rose, to her she accords 1 point for that act of giving he made to her.

So here’s the trick.  Instead of giving her 24 roses (and his book he records 24 points) at one time, bring her one rose but do it 24 times over a period of time.  That will be 24 points in her book.  What does this mean?  What is more important to her is not the size of the gift but rather the consistency in the act of giving.

She could sometimes come across as being ‘expensive’ but all she is trying to do is ‘to make up for the acts of giving that were not done in the past.  Hard as it seems, women can be easy.  We would need to understand the other genders’ emotional needs first for a more cordial relationship.

The physical needs of the two genders may be similar.   We all need warmth, food and shelter.  But when we attempt to cross the relationship into the emotional realm, and attempt to meet the emotional needs of the opposite gender, we meet in the differences, and not in the similarities.

So it is easy to get away by saying “he is not my type” or “she is not my type”.  It is actually truer than we believe it to be.

 “Women mistakenly expect men to react and behave the
way women do, while men continue to misunderstand
what women really need.”
  Dr Gray
– Author of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”

So who would need to start meeting the needs of the other gender first?  Would it be that the woman shows trust in her man first, before he begins to accord care to her.  Or would it be vice-versa?

And then there are five other types of emotional needs that are different for men and women.  What do you think they are?

What do you see is the impact of couples who are able to meet and build emotional intimacy with each other on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country?  What would prevent them from building such levels of intimacies?

These will be the subject of the column’s discussion for next week.  Happy discussing and discovering with your family and friends!

Ms Sheila Damodaran works as a systemic strategy development consultant currently developing her practice with national planning commissions in southern Africa.  She welcomes comments and queries for her programmes at https://www.facebook.com/SystemicThinkingColumnist or call DID: 3931518.