What This Blog is About

A long time mentor and friend, Cicely Berry, often says: "all we do comes from our need to survive".

Cis is the Voice Director of The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her profound work and deep appreciation of the human spirit has affected diverse communities all over the world.

Will take you to my current work.

This blog is dedicated to the belief that the overall health of a community or organization is a clear reflection of their ability to communicate.

"Cada cabeza es un mundo" - Cuban proverb

"Every head is a world"

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Building Other Kinds of Work Places

Yesterday, I met with someone I have trusted and respected for many years. His work as a learning expert has always been driven with integrity and care. I was interested to hear about his work in School Reform, something he has been involved with for several years.

We talked for hours and frustration drove through the passion and commitment he cannot avoid in anything he works at. Here's one thing he mentioned that I heard, that I hope I am overstating. However, I fear that I am not.

He said that "...if a child does not learn to read by the 6th grade or by nine years of age, it's pretty much decided in our school system , especially if it's a boy, that child will be going to jail. And, budgets and the building of jails in the U.S. are based on the metrics of that expected population". Whether this is fact or his view and experience, I am not certain. But I trust his knowledge.

Now, my mind was racing back to a conversation with a brilliant graduate student in a technology and design course that I had guessed lectured at about five years ago. I remembered him telling me that he wanted to bring his family from India to New York. And, that while he wanted to do very innovative work, he could not refuse the job offers he was getting to create deep programming on school testing standards. He related to me that he felt the kinds of programming he would be involved in might set metrics and standards that would be in place for a long time based on the political will and intentions of the initiatives in place.

Prisons are an industry. Another workplace that often drives the economy of a town, city and related state systems.

However, like the aging workforce, where a startling number of people turn fifty years old every hour of everyday, according to studies by organizations like Watson Wyatt, prisons too, are experiencing an aging population. Not just the muscle bound exercise yard constituency, but a population needing a host of different responses to their realities.

If the danger of the aging workforce to large organizations means a loss of people with knowledge (and it does), causing these organization a dangerous inability to meet productivity requirements in the very near future, what does this aging prison population mean to the economy of their work place?

Once again, I am thinking about the way the ancient Greeks defined economy. As the ability to sustain the life of something for as long as possible. Not about money.

Are we providing for the next generation of prison populations figured by metrics via another form of Demand Fulfillment? And, more cynical, by Demand Creation?

I am not suggesting this as a foolish conspiracy axiom. What I am suggesting is:

Children at any age want and need to change.

It is natural and expected.

What is not natural is to predict that children cannot change. And, therefore, by using these kinds of proposed metrics as indicators of human reality, we can move ahead on the budget agendas in hundreds of offices around a country that is based on free decision making with a dreadful plan and unlimited consequential adjournments supported by fabricated statistic determinations.

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Barbara K. said...

Systems are usually created to serve a purpose. Too often the ultimate purpose they wind up serving is their own self-perpetuation. This posting about the equation between children and prisons is a frightening example of this tendency.

sal said...

Thank you Barbara K. Your observaion about systems is very helpful.

I wonder how many systems that actually affect our current workplace fit your description of serving their own perpetuation?