Not computers and not children but rather like chimps

I keep meaning to write a long, well-argued rant against a basic assumption in much corporate thinking: that we’re all basically computers on legs that simply need reprogramming to achieve excellence. Excellence in this context, is a little hard to distinguish from conformity.

I suppose it would then go on to relate such thinking to a Creationist world view which copes with the extraordinary mystery of life by reducing it to a silly morality tale. The ten commandments translate as the trite mantras of “best practice” etc etc.

It seems to me that a cursory glance at psychological research will confirm that we’re all rather wonderful but not-especially-rational creatures who are somewhat at the mercy of biology and barely controlled herd instincts. So could we all just take break from the “Search for Excellence” and maybe, just maybe, stop trying so damn hard to manipulate each other?

Anyway, I keep meaning to write that long, well-argued piece. But this will have to do for now.

5 thoughts on “Not computers and not children but rather like chimps

  1. Viv McWaters

    Hear, hear!

    *raises glass in appreciation of common sense*

    And while we’re at it can we also take a leaf out of improv and just be content to ‘be average’ and ‘do the obvious’ because I reckon when we do that we leave space for excellence and the extrordinary to emerge.

  2. Rednose

    As far as Rants go, I think it was a good one. Short and to the point.

    I recon this strive for excellence is proving to be rather detrimental. The attempt to industrialize 3rd world countries has merely lead to poverty and joblessness. If 3rd world countries saught to improve the collective and played to their strengths such as man power over machine power rather than trying to improve the individual they’d be a lot better off, in my opinion.

  3. Lewis Green


    Great post! We begin our programming early on, first as our parents start to mold us into images of themselves, and then as public schools begin to chip away at our individuality to make us part of the herd. Executives, who have been co-opted most by this process, know no other way to manage. They don’t seek excellence, they seek conformity and obedience.

  4. Deborah Khan

    No other post is required Johnnie. Excellent. I had exactly this converstaion yesterday with a client who believes the whole sytems leadership debate has removed the human dimension. We are so saturated by and responsive to data that the notion that there surely has to be a system negates that we are all creating our own system. And there are no top 10 quick fixes or a neat manuel.

    Conforming to whose model? All of our contexts are complex, dynamic and subject to constantly changing variables. But those high end judgers believe there has to be a right way. Deconstrucitng such methodolgy with little analysis or consideration leads to yes, you are right, conformity with very little that is remarkable.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.