Perspectives from the Stair Newsletter shows you how to drive profit by resolving the risks in your business. Our 2015 theme: Flourish, celebrates Q1: Equipping Customers to Flourish
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Image: Istanbul's Bosporus Bridge

Perspectives from the Stair: Volume III, Issue 2

1: What can an elephant and a fish teach us about risk?
2: What makes objective truth the fulcrum of exponential risk improvements?

1: What can an elephant and a fish teach us about risk?

Matt Weilert   » Share & Subscribe
The word aphorism means a commonplace saying that expresses a deep truth. Marco Tullius Cicero said one of the greatest mistakes mankind repeats, is “to make others live as we do.”

Burning of the USS Philadelphia in 1804

The Indian folk tale, 3 blind men & the elephant, makes children aware that there are other perspectives, other viewpoints than their own. The phrase a fish can't see water expresses the same idea.

The perpetual juvenile never matures to grasp that central fact of living as a equal member of the human family.

While history shows that capitalism and free enterprise are the best economic system our human family has devised, those who confuse making money with virtue are scarcely better than those those warped souls claiming to be Islamists whose war-mongering bloodlust must yet again be scrubbed from the face of the earth as the US Navy & Marines did back in the Barbary Coast Wars of two centuries ago.


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2: What makes objective truth the fulcrum of ex­po­nen­tial risk im­prove­ments?

Scales of Justic
Image: Man Vyi, via Wikimedia Commons

Tony Jameson
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In his biography of St. Thomas More, Bernard Basset says conversation is the only way into the mind of another person…, which echos our motto, heart speaks to heart before mind is open to mind.

This central reality of the human condition is why we adopted dialog-driven risk discovery as our frame of reference for de­liv­er­ing exponentially improved risk results for organizations, both profit and non-profit.

As the first and foremost risk agency devoted exclusively to 'residual risk' (those things which so-called experts have overlooked), our purpose is to change minds and influence behaviors toward fully flourishing. Our 2015 theme flourish arises out of our 2014 theme fluency, because an idea must be expressed to gain agreement, yes or yes? To express ourselves with fluency means that we must speak the truth in joy, knowing that it will encourage many and enrage a few.

Why? In the prophetic words of the Brothers Heath – Because Better Matters – so ably described in their book Decisive.

Why would expressing the truth enrage anyone? Think back just a few years for some, decades and decades for others: remember the teen-agers around us who were completely absorbed with themselves? Remember the embarrassing tantrums that looked like they had regressed to the age of an infant, but were mistakenly left in a body a decade too old for it to be charmingly indulged? All infants are tyrants, they are totally dependent on their parents and caregivers.

The progression of maturity is our learning of the world outside ourselves. As we learn and apply the hallmarks of servant leadership, we are accorded more op­por­tun­it­ies. The most successful billionaire is not the one with the most money, it is he or she who has figured out how to serve the vast numbers of people who willingly trade their time, talent and treasure for the products or services the business leader provides.

Taylor Swift is far from a billionaire, yet she has many things in common with Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett (largest owners of Berkshire Hathaway). You'd agree that everyone who goes to her concerts did so without a government mandate, right? No IRS penalty requires people to buy her music or show up at her events, yet millions do around the world. Because there is no penalty for not-going, we can say that it is objectively true that people like her music enough to pay for it.

As the pioneer of dialog-driven risk discovery, we have the unique opportunity to survey the cultural landscape to see where various forces have willfully or un­know­ingly pushed our cultural ship off course. The perpetually juvenile rebel asks, why do you say it is off course? I'm tracking right where I want to! The why is amusingly simple:
On a dark and stormy night… a battleship captain gets alerted that there is an intermittent light on the same bearing as their ship.

"Probably the waves," he says, thinking that the ship's lights can't be seen when the bow (front) of the ship goes into the trough (the bottom) of the wave, during the rough seas.

"Radio the vessel and tell them to change course 10 degrees."

"Sir," the radioman says after a moment, "They say that you'll need to either change course 23 degrees east or 17 degrees west, but you cannot remain on this course."

"What?!" the captain explodes, his ego out of whack, like all perpetual juveniles whose behavior has been too long indulged. "You tell that numskull that I am the captain of a battleship and he'll change course or I'll have him court-martialed."

Nervously, the radioman returns with the message, "Sir he says that he is a radioman 3rd class and he's the night tender of a lighthouse…

 "If you remain on this course, he promises to attend your funeral and console your widow."
Cue the raving laughter track…

Talk to people in a language they understand, because we all have to build that bridge heart-to-heart, or cor ad cor loquitur. Typically it just takes seconds to start, so understand we have to build the bridge before people will actually listen. Only then can real communication flourish.

Industries or disciplines are like a chair, they're neither male nor female. The classic stem careers are inherently transactional, just like the lighthouse is inherently stationary. Speaking the language of our customer never has been and never will be a class, race or gender issue. It's really a reflection of how committed we are to servant leadership and the pragmatic realities of client-focused communication.
One of the biggest risks in America today is the bizarre notion that individuals have the right not to be offended. Only the perpetual juvenile could conceive of such a self-centered worldview. Where this becomes corrosive to the very foundations of society is when unelected judges seek to impose the tyranny of a worldview that expressly contradicts the will of the people expressed in free & fair elections.
Thankfully, we have a wonderful example from Europe, of all places! A certain Ms. Lautsi wanted all crucifixes removed from all Italian classrooms. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights told her that her and her children's rights ended where the rights other 29 children [in the class] and those of their parents, began. From the official decision in Lautsi et al v. Italy: p. 20 para 47 "…the [lower] Chamber's reasoning had been based on a misunderstanding of the concept of "neutrality", which the Chamber had confused with 'secularism'." The official decision has stirring words, see page numbered 44, (p. 46 of the PDF):
p. 46 …In reversing the Chamber’s judgment, the Grand Chamber does no more than confirm a body of settled jurisprudence (notably under Article 10) which recognises that mere ‘offence’ is not something against which an individual may be immunized by law.

A preference for secularism over alternative world views – whether religious, philosophical or otherwise – is not a neutral option. The Convention requires that respect be given to the first applicant’s convictions insofar as the education and teaching of her children was concerned. It does not require a preferential option for and endorsement of those convictions over and above all others.

p. 47 In his separate opinion, Judge Bonello has pointed to the fact that within the European tradition, education (and, to my mind, the values of human dignity, tolerance and respect for the individual, without which there can be no lasting basis for human rights protection) is rooted, historically, inter alia, within the Christian tradition.

To prohibit in public schools, regardless of the wishes of the body politic, the display of a symbol representative of that (or indeed any other religious) tradition and to require of the State that it pursues not a pluralist but a secularist agenda, risks venturing towards the territory of intolerance – a concept that is contrary to the values of the Convention.

The applicants complain of an alleged violation of their rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. I can find no interference with their freedom to manifest their personal beliefs. The test of a violation under Article 9 is not “offence” but “coercion”. That article does not create a right not to be offended by the manifestation of the religious beliefs of others even where those beliefs are given ‘preponderant visibility’ by the State. The display of a religious symbol does not compel or coerce an individual to do or to refrain from doing anything.

It does not require engagement in any activity though it may, conceivably, invite or stimulate discussion and an open exchange of views. It does not prevent an individual from following his or her own conscience nor does it make it unfeasible for such a person to manifest his or her own religious beliefs and ideas. [emphasis added]

In delivering accurate assessments of residual risks, we can no more ignore the popular will of the people in cultural matters, formally expressed in certifiably free & fair elections, any more than we can ignore gravity in physical transport of raw materials to a manufacturing site.

Data analysis requires more than the mere technical ability to apply the correct equation to a set of numbers or parsing text samples to ferret out trends. Speaking with fluency in the language of risk requires courage to speak objective truth when it will challenge the typical worldview. In a political bubble like Washington, D.C., the data-driven answers you derive may put you at odds with people you’ve known, studied with, played team sports and socialized with for years.

It is a hallmark of maturity to seek the answers the data tell us rather than seek the data that will give us the answers we want to hear.

Reach out for Cross-Disciplinary Insights!

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