The Mekaniks of Planning

Jack Ma: Founder and Chief Executive of Alibaba, speaking in an interview on Bloomberg last Friday morning, said: “The last century was the time for competition of the muscle. This one is the century for competition of wisdom, of experience and of care.”


Mr. Ma had at that point been speaking with deeply infectious enthusiasm about the fact that more than a third of senior executives at Alibaba, an Amazon type eTailer with 600 million monthly customers, were women. He concluded his interview highlighting the difference women brought to his business: “Women represented softer power. It is not the machine guns: it is the CARE… ” He said at the close.


He also talked of retiring earlier than Mr. Gates did, to focus the energy of his Jack Ma Foundation on Education. Specifically on those skills that are at the forefront of demand for the 21st century post-industrial world … often referred to as the 4th Industrial Revolution [FIR] world.


In other words he wasn’t talking about specifically, mathematics or languages [He is a former English Teacher apparently] but rather a range of so-called, critical soft skills, that will be the main demand area for workers in a world run almost automatically.


His absolute certainty was that of the fabled “Man with a Plan”; The Randian legend so grimly loathed by whatever is left of the Left. Perhaps Ideology tends to defeat the reason planning requires.


Nonetheless his enthusiasm for his cause highlighted one of the less understood issues of our times, one that so routinely lies at the heart of many ills of society. I refer to the sheer power of a plan to achieve, almost psychically, its purpose.


Or NOT.


In other words the former president of the country in which this bloggist lives has been routinely accused of failing to achieve any of the plans he helped forge [pun intended] under a range of names during his era of leadership.


On the other hand he is also currently the subject of a fairly public, formal, legal investigation into his role, in the ultimately rumbled, achievement of a plan so successful it has resulted in the ‘disappearance’ of, possibly, more than ONE ENTIRE YEAR”S earning’s of the country… a circumstance that lies right at the heart of the shock announcement earlier this week that the country has officially slipped [again] into recession.


If you lost every cent you worked to earn last year, how long do you think it would take you to make up the loss? Bear in mind that today is also the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Bros, an event that catapulted the world into the [so-called] Great Recession. Another failed plan… aside from those parties who featured in the movie The Big Short … a movie about how three unrelated parties had a plan and made a fortune when the market crashed.


There is also much talk about rising income disparity problems; as those persons with a plan, outstrip the plan free: to the inchoate rage of the latter.


Part of that rage is at the heart of the amazing decision by an entire nation at the other side of the world to take a plan free leap of a cliff called BREXIT with absolutely no idea of what becoming “Global Britain” actually means other than a catchy phrase, like the one our former president used to beguile those who needed beguiling with his “Vision 2030”.


We were treated to a globally excruciating exercise in humiliation, this week, for instance, when the current minion representing the former colonial overlords, performed a cringe worthy attempt at step dancing, with a collection of [now] liberated [giggling] children… The idea that she was engaged in an exercise to swap a trillion dollar market for one on the edge of bankruptcy has not yet actually registered apparently.


A while ago I was asked to give a talk on planning to a networking group that I have joined, to force myself to leave my house occasionally, for a reason other than to get milk and meat.


My purpose I was told, was to focus only on personal planning, with application to business: rather than the vagaries of politicians, and other forms of disregard.


I told them that planning has four components:


What do you want to achieve?
How do you propose to achieve it?
What methods are you going to use to measure your progress?
How are you going to keep yourself; and any you are taking with you, motivated and committed to the plan?


The talk was successful I was told: and afterwards many of the audience [a mainly young audience of happy wannabe upwardly mobile persons] more than a few of whom said they had never linked all the various ideas into the word ‘planning’ before: and felt they had had a form of Satori.


So in the next blog or two i will go into some more specific details that comprise what I call ‘The Mekaniks of Planning’. As the Networkers at the Profound Conference Centre: Network and Partnership session noted; they already know the words; I was simply opening them up, giving them kontext, putting them in a chain: then sprinkling some spices. Think of it as a trial.


I have been totally engrossed in my own mission for the first half and a bit of this year. So it was something of a return to reality. Therefore through, re-investigating the topic; and figuring out how to take stuff, I would normally in past times have spread out over whole days: and get it all down to an hour, I became increasingly aware of how few alleged PLANS simply didn’t happen… And while excluding the idea that some people involved in plan a are secretly following plan b, I thought maybe it was because it is not something everyone understands; especially if your origins are associated with an authority structure that required one to DO: Not to think: of planning. It simply wasn’t an option for most.


And habits
are difficult to
break,
and can, in
frequent
collision
with purpose: prove
fatal to purpose..

to be continued…


Cheers

Donald Trump: a Schumpeterian Moment

The November 19 online edition of the ‘New Yorker’ e’zine makes a plaintive “cultural comment”, on what writer, Nathan Heller calls: “The Failure of Facebook Democracy”. He roots his argument in the earlier public prognostications of a respected jurist in the USA: “If people are sorted into enclaves and niches, what will happen to their views?” he wondered. “What are the eventual effects on democracy?” The Jurist frets about the “Polarization of extremes” and the probable algorithmically impacts of ‘Likes’.

Heller then observes that: “ This month has provided a jarring answer. The unexpected election of Donald Trump is said to owe debts to both niche extremism and rampant misinformation.” … As if Mrs. Clinton, his opponent, was herself innocent of such debt.

What a curious cluster of statements. They do however summarise the shockwave running through global media for the past two weeks: whining about the death of meaningful factual evidence and the rise of opinion based reality… whatever that means. And as if they themselves were somehow paragons of virtue when it comes to the dissemination of information. In effect “The people” have chosen to believe their own lies and not those pumped by the press. Tut tut:
Norty people [sic]. As Moises Naim proclaims, “Being in charge isn’t what it used to be” in his best selling “End of Power”.

And … in truth it has been an amazing, tumultuous and ultimately saddened fortnight.

Sad for the demise of an icon: well certainly for me. The Late Leonard Cohen: poet and muso extraordinaire. His ‘So Long Maryann’ was the second song that I sang for my equally late Grandmother-in-law at our first meeting: during the opening years of the seventies. [The first was Peter Sarstedt’s “Take off your clothes let me see what it is that you’re hiding… Don’t be afraid you have nothing to fear from my eyes”.] May they both rest in peace, no matter where each thought they might go.

It was amazing because of a confluence of previously unconsidered [so-called] Dark Swan events, arriving like the proverbial perfect shit storm. Shock election results [for some]. Shock “Transformation” events [for some] as our National rugby side have become the equals of the national Football team which on the rare occasion that they actually won an international during this past fortnight immediately fired the coach.

The Americans elected their first ever ‘working class’, Billionaire social media, reality TV star President. A few hours later the shit storm that followed sent a ‘tsunami’ washing along the side wall of the range of hills that separate north from south in Jakari’s home town Jozi. The Blog’s pad got 58 millimetres in roughly 20 minutes, while the suburbs on the end of the ‘mountain’ got nearly 160 mm in the same time. We get bad storms in summer… Highveld blazers they are of the kind I wrote about in the ‘Buffalo Hunters’ [Publ’ 1996]. This was like three storms in one.

It was, essentially, a wall of rain that swept in from the northwest and then slid left along the ridges called respectively Westcliff, Parktown and Linksfield and poured that deluge over Bedfordview, Senderwood and Edenvale.

It turned a passing section of the ring road highway into a sudden raging torrent, sinking a logjam of congested traffic into a sudden unexpected quagmire of metres deep raging water. Homeward returning commuters found themselves heroically balancing on the roof tops of their wildly plunging, madly prancing, formerly beloved motor vehicles become masses of uncontrollable steel boxes; forming human chains, to help fellow commuters head to the safety of the highway sidewalls: An awesome, truly amazing event.

Then more hours later an ice storm hit part of a suburb of a coastal town…. Hail that fell in such a mass concentration that literally blocks of ice engaged with each other. Later still, on the other side of the planet a city on the east side of New Zealand, was devastated by a level 7 earthquake…. the third such earthquake to wreak havoc on the planet in the past month.

For us here in Jozi it was sad too for the number of people who were drowned in their cars [and elsewhere] while driving along a disgracefully inadequately guttered highway. A little three year old girl child has yet to be found after falling from a tree in which she was attempting to shelter when a well littered stream that loiters through the north eastern part of the city, became an instant raging flood wall of water: pouring roofs, cars, bricks n rubble, dogs, cats and a years worth of uncollected garbage, accumulated from a year’s worth of garbage worker strikes and strident downtime…

A voice on the radio called it “a one hundred year event”. And of course for those who have listened to the Jonker Memorandum they will know that ‘one hundred year’ events are starting to pile up in an ominous fashion…. And I thought I was writing fiction.

And so to the month’s tumultuous main two hundred year event: The election of Donald Trump: the world’s first working class, superstar billionaire, Social Media derived President of the USA. And so we enter the era of Tronald Dump. Wow…. we certainly got dumped on… and would prefer that those damm Yankees keep their own Dumpster under control so our commuters can drive home without having to take a bath.

Was this bloggist surprised by the result…? No I had predicted it the previous day in a lesson on ‘decision theory’, with my end of day senior class: timed as the election vote was starting on the American subcontinent. Among other things I had pointed out that in a long life of following political events with a trained eye, I had never experienced an event of this nature in which every form of respectable to mainstream to fringe media, of every shape, format and description with which I had any contact, gave one party a ninety percent chance of winning versus the other, who got the ten… grudgingly.

Using Mr. Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknown” SM factor… the alleged “Enclave and Niche” effect referred to by the New Yorker piece, we decided: the class and I, that, Mr. Trump’s chances were probably more like 60%; as the disintermediation effect of an uncontrolled stream of conflicting viewpoints opinions and rampant disinformation poured over the borders of this new quagmire called cyberspace. Truly a place as chaotic as out highway became for that half an hour.

In fact I did at times wonder if there was more than one contender taking part in the election, so parochial and pointless the entire exercise became… and we don’t even live there and have our own horror stories to endure. Regarding the election in a distant foreign country one was constantly reminded of a classic movie about a couple who buy a used house, the renovation of which leads to a bitter battle, in which they fight over the kids, the dogs and the nuclear button.

So how does someone everyone, including the house leader of the Party that he allegedly represented, and in fact pretty well his entire Party establishment; and, seemingly, the bulk of the supposedly supportive media, he represented: that literally everyone wanted to see beaten: become the ultimate winning “little guy”?

It could only be the latest quirk in what is now so rampant a revolutionary phenomenon, responsible [allegedly] for respectively the [so-called] ‘Arab Spring’, the upset British Conservative Party election victory in 2015, the subsequent infamous Brexit decision, and now, newly atomized humanity gives us Donald Trump a name that would be a byword for what he has done, in a fifties comic book … but who exists in reality: and as the comic meme goes Tronald Dump’s a Tsunami.

In closing, I note that the people, whom Mrs. Clinton called “Deplorables” in a moment that probably killed her campaign; and about whom the media broadly sneered about, as “bigoted, racist, sexist” and whatever other fashionable slurs became momentarily abused , alternately people whom I call the “PoP Kru or ‘Pissed off People’, may not be written off as random hillbillies and general layabouts…

That map of the USA became almost a solid red with a thin couple of blue smears along part of each coastline, where seemingly the half of the country that voted for Mrs. Clinton resided. What an awesome comment on the vanity of failure.

One hears that much of that crowd that voted for “Change” were of the generation that was Leonard Cohen’s, and additionally that so-called Baby Boomer generation to which I and Mr. Trump and Mr. Cinton and Mr. [Dubya] Bush ironically all belong, and who have continually changed the world during our slowly ending era of existence. And for those that either don’t remember or were perhaps not born it does look as though we are the generation that is about to change the world again, helped by vast swathes of disaffected Millenials. Of course following our own President’s example `Mr. Trump could spend the next four year in endless courtroom prevarication, as did one of his predecessors Mr. Clinton, as those being shoved from the trough fight to get their place back: unknowing that one can never step twice into the same river.

He may however break the massive logjam that has locked up economic performance for nearly a decade; and is exerting a relentless grip on the rest of the planet: tightening into a massive debt founded death lock.

If he can manage to loosen that, then he will go down to posterity as a man whose name became a Trump card… If not… Then perhaps my Jonker Memorandum ceases again to be fiction and the game may well be lost for some further generations to resurrect.

*[With thanks to Professor Nupen, Wits, Pol Sci 101, 1967 for his endless harangues on the Schumpeterian’ power of disruption’… named for Joseph Schumpeter who first wrote about it a century ago. ]

Episode 84 JM Finale

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In this final episode we discover what it was that caused this story to be a Mythical tale.

 

Episode 83 JM penultimate

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In which It is the day of Korinth Starr’s final election rally. The Kriogenia tream are getting ready to go: Grommets, Kharma and the golden G Force girls. Meantime Marak is reunited with Heksi and has to make decisions.

Episode 83

Episode 82 JM

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What about Marak?

Episode 82

Episode 81 JM

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What happened!

Episode 80 JM

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Marak is a prisoner in a notorious place of detention. Something unthinkable happens.

Episode 79 JM

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In which Marak is all wrapped up in one place and also in another.

Episode 79 JM

Episode 78 JM

Episode 78 JM 2

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In which Inspekta Suth  goes fishing for clues and Marak discovers he is lost.

 

Episode 77JM

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Marak Kondrago may or may not be experiencing hallucinations following his mind’s exploration by his seemingly renegade captors: Stuurman and company.

Episode 77 JM 3