[Copyright Belief Institute, Sydney 2008]

Personnel departments and consultancies almost invariably attempt to categorize and define people according to certain personality traits which are then matched to the requirements of a particular position. To some extent, definition of skills, competencies and character is important for effective placement of people. But present attempts to write more effective computer programs or questionnaires to help determine character are misguided.

[ Excerpt Be and Become, Sydney 2000 ]

People can and do adapt and change to meet desired objectives. An employee's ability to creatively find new, different and more efficient ways of producing results is not able to be predicted. In fundamental terms, any attempt to predict either individual or collective behavior is simply not possible. Attempting to perfectly categorize people via various psychological tests limits them and goes towards dis-empowering them. It disallows our mysterious creative side that is the origin of all our modern technology.

Modern business supposedly operates on facts, figures and research but most CEO’s and effective managers, when you get right down to it, trust their gut feelings when making the hard decisions, irrespective of the facts.

Even defining illnesses largely locks people into the expected symptoms. In any event, attempting to predict people’s or prospective employee’s behavior would be an attempt to completely know the unknowable. And it would contravene the Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Physics. Our focus on the physical (the local and the limited) has engendered a mindset steeped in the scientific method of measurement, continuity, predictability and strict mechanism.

A strong physical orientation has led us to focus on mastery 
while largely ignoring the mystery out of which mastery arises.

In particular, our strong particle orientation over the last few centuries has almost completely inhibited the sense of wonder and mystery inherent in existence. We have inhibited our sense of magic and oneness with the world (primitive cultures excepted).

A masculine-particle orientation also biases us towards being focused in the past. Being past orientated has meant observance of tradition, culture and hierarchy. As we emerge from being so acutely particle orientated, we will see greater emphasis upon the future and less emphasis upon tradition and hierarchical structures, such as organized religions. We will observe increasing change (e.g. old traditions being discarded) and more emphasis upon creativity and new ideas. And as the world “shrinks” into a smaller and smaller global village through more pervasive telecommunications, we can expect that people will become more considerate and compassionate towards others and the world around us. We can expect to hear in business circles more about the importance of “vision” and “purpose” for both of these aspects are concerned with where we are headed, not where we have been (as per tradition or one’s qualifications). Interestingly, we can expect that contrary to the recent emphasis upon business people gaining higher and higher qualifications (past orientated), there will be more emphasis upon executives taking risks and delivering results (future orientated). In fact, in one recent report, in recognition that society is becoming more and more complex and fast paced, leading executive placement firms decided that

Only two criteria will now be used to evaluate performance—effectiveness and risk taking ... This makes redundant the previous competencies—school attended, family connections, prowess in sailing and golf...1

Many CEO’s are beginning to recognize the importance of shifting their reliance upon past structure, tradition and performance, towards new ideas, creativity and potential. As Robert Shapiro noted:

Today in most fields I know, the struggle is about creativity and innovation. There is no script.2

“There is no script” is testimony to the idea that we are continually recreating our present circumstances and that we can no longer solely rely upon tradition, certainty and “facts.” We are entering an era in which many more people will appreciate George Bernard Shaw’s remarks “You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”

  1. 1. Les Coleman, The Weekend Australian, News Ltd, Sydney, December 27-28, 1998, page 22.
  2. 2. Henry Ehrlich, The Wiley Book of Business Quotations, John Wiley and Sons, New York 1998, page 189 {Robert B. Shapiro, CEO of the chemical firm Monsanto, interviewed in Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 1997}.