Communication/team working (both within their own teams and the team of supervisors).
Working with different people and adapting their management/supervisory skills to the needs of the person.
From previous experience of the supervisors they are practically oriented and as a group, learn best through action based learning. As such having lengthy discussions and an overly theoretical approach is not likely to draw out points for improvement. I have chosen some action based exercises which simulate some common areas of difficulty together with some theoretical input. In having an experience the participants will have a non confrontational basis for general discussions. The points raised are transferable to day to day work without the need for finger pointing. As a group they were largely resistant to planning as a concept, feeling that their mode was to be responsive / reactive to external demands placed upon them. One of the difficulties they encountered was sudden unexpected request for service which they did not feel empowered to reject. As such they did a lot of “fire fighting”. In order to look into this I would recommend that I spend one day or half a day within the unit, so that I might better understand the mechanics of its work. Based on this I would be able to refine the provisional programme outlined below.
Understanding Self and Communication
Introduction and Scene Setting
Objective Setting In Pairs Introduce “Rumours” exercise
Participants to Set Objectives and display publicly on room wall. These to be checked back to during course A Rumour is started and will be reviewed later in course. Purpose to highlight spread and accuracy of rumours.
MBTI psychometric testing Highlights differing personality styles, needs and approaches to life Specific focus on improvisation / planning preferences Detail / Bigger Picture Introversion / Extraversion Logic / Feelings Highlight How People Differ
Type and Communication
Learning to use differences constructively
Mapping out communication networks Map how communications flow or otherwise within the unit
Summing up of where things are. Check back to objectives.
The Jeremy Kyle Show
Introduction to Transactional Analysis.
Brief excerpt to show “good” communication Introduction to Transactional Analysis. Parent / Adult / Child Discussion and Role Playing. Need for Detachment as opposed to “Taking it Personally”
Colour Block Communication Shut Downs
Exercises to Demonstrate information overflow and how Communications are Shut Down
Tea / Coffee
I have A Secret Active Listening
Example and use of Active Listening and facilitation to draw out “secrets” from each other.
Sheep and Shepherd
Planes Trains and Automobiles
Exercise to practice communication under difficult conditions.
Delegation and communication.
Review of Day
Draw together all salient points during the day Check back to Objectives and add to these for Day two
Bring it Home
What are the Difficulties You Encounter?
Fact Finding Discussion
Plans, Planning, Strategy
Workflow Analysis in the Unit
Models for planning, including inventory, fire-fighting, personnel, outward and inward facing.
Facilitated planning moving forward for operation of the unit.
What elements need to change and how to change them?
Tea / Coffee
Exercise in delegation, negotiation and planning with review. This often causes conflict Review.
Discussion and Role Play with Agendas and Observers. Academic, Ph.D Student, Manager, Supervisor, Technician Review on this using Transactional Analysis Look at Power Imbalances
Causes of Conflict and Conflict Mitigation by Timely Communication
Understanding Common Root Causes for Conflicts. How planning and communication can mitigate these. Draw in result from “Rumours” to aid Discussion
I need to Communicate With…
Participants pick two people with whom they need to communicate better with. They discuss in pairs / small groups how to do this and agree action points as to how to go about this, which are specific and dated.
Stick or Carrot?
Looking at different working cultures. Is escalation a good thing? Look back to Jeremy Kyle Show. How small scale clear direction is empowering for staff. In other words it is OK to delegate and not micro mange provided that clear, unambiguous direction is given
16:00 – 17:00
Course Wrap Up
Refer back to Objectives What are WE going to take forward? When are WE going to do this by? How will WE know we have done this?
Is “catastrophising” a common phenomenon? Do lots of people do it?
If you have a wild horse secure in a stable and you open the door what happens to the horse? It bolts off down the paddock and then it is very difficult to get a calmed down wild horse back into the stable. There is no point shutting the stable door it is too late for that. One would have to spend a lot of time and effort to coral the horse and get it safely back into the stable. One might have to use ruses and tricks to re-capture the horse.
This is a metaphor for the catastrophising mind, once you have started to catastrophise mind pisses off down the paddock quicker than Usain Bolt and all calmness is lost. One lurches from terrifying conclusion to the next getting ever more fear full and anxious. Mind jumps from A past Z until it is halfway down the add symbol menu and well into the Cyrillic section.
I’ll wager that over the last year or so many more have catastrophised that they will die of Covid-19 hooked up to a ventilator than have actually done so. Someone coughing across the aisle in the supermarket is obviously the direct precursor to instant infection and prolonged painful death.
The trick with catastrophising mind is not to open the door, so to speak. The moment you open the door more than a smidgeon the wild horse will bolt. By all means takes a quick peak at the future but don’t fully open the door. Do not conclude that your worst fears will manifest immediately.
Some people, I guess, actually enjoy catastrophising because it gives them an excuse not to do anything.
Once catastrophising has set in scaling is very difficult to bring about. This is where the simple just like this can be very helpful.
One can use bizarre questions to help scale:
Are you likely to experience full on gang rape as a part of organised ethnic cleansing in the next 24 hours?
Is a 400-year-old European vampire going to drain you of 80% of your blood tonight?
Is that freckle on your thumb actually stage four skin cancer?
Nah, I don’t really think so..
Is it possible Donald Trump might get re-elected?
Yeah, it is possible.
If you are wrong and lose the argument, will a vortex open up in space-time and suck the entire galaxy through it into another dimension?
Seems a tad unlikely.
If someone disagrees with you does that mean that they hate you and will do so until the end of the Kalpa?
No, I guess not.
Are you overreacting?
Maybe you might be a bit more proportionate?
Yes, I guess but what if the werewolf comes to eat my gizzards?
That is unlikely. Where do live?
On the seventh floor in a secure flat in central London.
What is the data concerning werewolf density in your neighbourhood?
There isn’t any…
Why do you suppose that is?
Because they can’t afford to live in Chelsea.
You do know that your nail will grow back, don’t you?
We live in times where black and white thinking is common, and where thought is polarised.
I’ll raise a question:
Can polarised thinking ever be entirely accurate?
A long while ago when I used to do small group personal development facilitation, I was more than a little surprised at the levels of negativity in young capable Ph.D. students. These were able to find holes and faults in just about anything, there was also a high level of cynicism. They were young, smart, healthy and yet they were largely negative. They had loads of reasons why not and not many why to. From one particularly negative group I got my favourite piece of feedback:
“Alan’s ability to find a positive from and in any situation began to get a tad irritating.”
This cloud of negativity seems to be the human default. It seems people prefer to complain about everything. Many moan about prices, lock-down, the government, the weather. Not many of the moaners live in Gaza in the sights of Israeli jets, nor in a Syrian refugee camp, or in Dafur. This negativity saps the will to joy. Few realise just how good they have it, they take so very much for granted. People feel entitled and somehow owed by the universe or society, they believe in the notion of “rights”. Ask a starving refugee what non-binary gender means…it would prefer a bowl of rice.
If one has the negativity virus then one needs a positivity antidote. But one might be careful not to overdose otherwise one ends up in hyper over hyped bullshit land.
I used to advise Ph.D. students doing job applications to be a little more American in their approach but not to go too far as that would not be palatable to British tastes.
To be overly positive can set oneself up to fail, because over positive is idealistic. When ideals are not met one can crash and burn. It is easy to see the positivity-negativity yo-yo in action. We have oscillating quasi bipolar behaviours.
What then is the answer? To gently strive for a balanced objective and non-partisan perception. A perception not coloured by emotions or prejudices, a perception not overly up or down, a state of equanimity.
“Just like this.” Is a notion in Zen but it does not pertain only to Zen, it is accepting reality as actually is. Strangely to my eyes humanity often struggles with the simplicity of reality and rarely has emotional equanimity. Humans are hooked on what I call the heroin of complexity. Humans have a lot of preferences and when these are not met, they get to whinge, moan and complain. It would be rare for someone who likes to complain to imagine that the luxury they are complaining about might be taken away. Balanced perception would recognise that they are pretty damn “lucky”, a bit of frustration is a whole lot better than starvation.
The mid-point between polar perceptions is often more accurate, there are shades of grey. The world is more nuanced than the adamantly held and professed views of many.
Just found two iterations of the slidepack for an exploratory course for new Ph.D. supervisors I developed for the Open University. One of them uses a case study “Caroline” where things go badly wrong.
No matter how exotic human civilisation becomes, no matter the developments of life and society nor the complexity of the machine / human interface, there always come interludes of lonely power when the course of humankind, the very future of humankind, depends upon the relatively simple actions of single individuals.
The prophet is not diverted by illusions of past, present and future. The fixity of language determines such linear distinctions. Prophets hold a key to the lock in language. The mechanical image remains only an image to them. This is not a mechanical universe. The linear progression of events is imposed by the observer. Cause and effect? That’s not it at all. The prophet utters fateful words. You glimpse a things “destined to occur”. But the prophetic instant releases something of infinite portent and power. The universe undergoes a ghostly shift. The wise prophet conceals actuality behind shimmering labels. The uninitiated then believe the prophetic language is ambiguous. The listener distrusts the prophetic messenger. Instinct tells you how the utterance blunts the power of such words. The best prophets lead you up to the curtain and let you peer through it yourself.
The realisation of what I am occurs in the timeless awareness which does not accumulate nor discard, which does not stimulate or delude. I create a field without self or centre, a field where even death becomes an analogy. I desire no results. I merely permit this field which has no goals nor desires, no perfections nor even visions of achievements. In that field, omnipresent primal awareness is all. It is the light which pours through the windows of my universe.
The singular multiplicity of the universe draws my deepest attention. It is a thing of ultimate beauty.
Some never participate. Life happens to them. They get by on little more than dumb persistence and resist with anger or violence all that might lift them out of resentment filled illusions of security.
Ready comprehension is often a knee jerk response and the most dangerous form of understanding. It blinks an opaque screen over your ability to learn. The judgemental precedents of law function that way, littering your path with dead ends. Understand nothing. All comprehension is temporary.
Humans are born with a susceptibility to that most persistent and debilitating disease of intellect: self deception. The best of all possible worlds and the worst get their dramatic colouration from it. As nearly as we can determine there is no natural immunity. Constant alertness is required.
Many things we do naturally become difficult only when we try to make them intellectual subjects. It is possible to know so much about a subject that you become totally ignorant.
The writing of history is largely a process of diversion. Most historical accounts distract attention from the secret influences behind great events.
A Fremen dies when he is too long from the desert. We call this the water sickness.
The future of prescience cannot always be locked into the rules of the past. The threads of existence tangle according to many unknown laws. Prescient future insists on its own rules. It will not conform to the ordering of the Zensunni nor of science. Prescience builds a relative integrity. It demands the work of this instant, always warning that you cannot weave every thread into the fabric of the past.
Church and state, scientific reason and faith, the individual and his community, even progress and tradition- all these can be reconciled in the teachings of Muad’Dib. He taught us that there exists no intransigent opposites except in the beliefs of man. Anyone can rip aside the veil of Time. You can discover the future in the past or in your own imagination. Doing this you win back your consciousness in your inner being. You know then that the universe is a coherent whole and you are indivisible from it.
It is said of Muad’Dib that once when he saw a weed trying to grow between two rocks, he moved one of the rocks. Later, when the weed was seen to be flourishing, he covered it with the remaining rock. “That was its fate,” he explained.
You will learn the integrated communication methods as you complete the next step in your mental education. This is a gestalten function which will overlay data paths in your awareness, resolving complexities and masses of input from the mentat index-catalogue techniques which you have already mastered. Your initial problem will be the breaking tensions arising from the divergent assembly of minutiae/data on specialized subjects. Be warned. Without mentat overlay integration, you can be immersed in the Babel Problem, which is the label we give to the omnipresent dangers of achieving wrong combinations from accurate information.
–The Mentat Handbook
If you believe certain words, you believe their hidden arguments. When you believe something is right or wrong, true or false, you believe the assumptions in the words which express the arguments. Such assumptions are often full of holes, but remain most precious to the convinced.
–The Open-Ended Proof from The Panoplia Prophetica
Above all else, the mentat must be a generalist, not a specialist. It is wise to have decisions of great moment monitored by generalists. Experts and specialists lead you quickly into chaos. They are a source of useless nit-picking, the ferocious quibble over a comma. The mentat-generalist, on the other hand, should bring to decision-making a healthy common sense. He must not cut himself off from the broad sweep of what is happening in his universe. He must remain capable of saying: “There’s no real mystery about this at the moment. This is what we want now. It may prove wrong later, but we’ll correct that when we come to it.” The mentat-generalist must understand that anything which we can identify as our universe is merely a part of larger phenomena. But the expert looks backward; he looks into the narrow standards of his own specialty. The generalist looks outward; he looks for living principles, knowing full well that such principles change, that they develop. It is to the characteristics of change itself that the mentat-generalist must look. There can be no permanent catalogue of such change, no handbook or manual. You must look at it with as few preconceptions as possible, asking yourself: “Now what is this thing doing?”
–The Mentat Handbook
The universe is just there; that’s the only way a Fedaykin can view it and remain the master of his senses. The universe neither threatens nor promises. It holds things beyond our sway: the fall of a meteor, the eruption of a spiceblow, growing old and dying. These are the realities of this universe and they must be faced regardless of how you feel about them. You cannot fend off such realities with words. They will come at you in their own wordless way and then, then you will understand what is meant by “life and death.” Understanding this, you will be filled with joy.
–Muad’Dib to his Fedaykin
At the age of fifteen, he had already learned silence.
–from “A Child’s History of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan
Many have marked the speed with which Muad’Dib learned the necessities of Arrakis. The Bene Gesserit, of course, know the basis of this speed. For the others, we can say that Muad’Dib learned rapidly because his first training was in how to learn.And the first lesson of all was the basic trust that he could learn. It’s shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult. Muad’Dib knew that every experience carries its lesson.
–from “The Humanity of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan
A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct. This every sister of the Bene Gesserit knows. To begin your study of the life of Muad’Dib, then, take care that you first place him in his time: born in the 57th year of the Padishah Emperor, Shaddam IV. And take the most special care that you locate Muad’Dib in his place: the planet Arrakis. Do not be deceived by the fact that he was born on Caladan and lived his first fifteen years there. Arrakis, the planet known as Dune, is forever his place.
–from “Manual of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan
My father once told me that respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality. “Something cannot emerge from nothing,” he said. This is profound thinking if you understand how unstable “the truth” can be.
–from “Conversations with Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan
Prophecy and prescience–How can they be put to the test in the face of the unanswered questions? Consider: How much is actual prediction of the “wave form” (as Muad’Dib referred to his vision-image) and how much is the prophet shaping the future to fit the prophecy? What of the harmonics inherent in the act of prophecy? Does the prophet see the future or does he see a line of weakness, a fault or cleavage that he may shatter with words or decisions as a diamond-cutter shatters his gem with a blow of a knife?
–“Private Reflections on Muad’Dib” by the princess Irulan
God created Arrakis to train the faithful.
–from “The Wisdom of Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan