"Not invented here" redux and updated

A response to "Small Group Dyamics and the Challenges of Classification"

I hadn't intended to touch on this topic again quite so soon, but this blog entry from Juliaki altered my plans a bit.

Juliaki is not the only other Pagan I speak to, but most of the others on on private lists and I do not have permission to quote them. She is the only one with her own blog that I talk to regularly, so she gets referenced a lot.

Yes, a conversation with Juliaki was part of the inspiration for this entry. So were all the times over the last couple of months when I suggested to other Pagans that we might do a little cost/benefit thinking before embracing some of the more radical environmental solutions wholeheartedly and they flinched. So were some of the offline talks I had with a friend of mine who was thinking of opening their own business when they wanted my help on their loan application. My friend wasn't a Pagan, but is liberal, and I could see the cringe and shivers when I mentioned things like business plans and budgets.

But let's return specifically to business books and how they might be used to used in paganism. Now I am certainly not suggesting replacing your BoS with The Book of Business Wisdom, But there are good ideas out there, if you are willing to look for them.

Take interviewing for example. I've been told of one coven that does interviews on neutral ground before someone is allowed to start training. As it happens I think that is a very good idea. An interview could certainly have helped me avoid my one disastrous coven experience.

Back when I first became a manager, I had never interviewed anyone for a job before. I was terrible at it, I had only the vaguest idea of what to do. No business class I had taken had really prepared me for it. And then I stumbled across behavioral interviewing. It wasn't a perfect tool, but it was a lot better than what I had to go on prior to that point. So I rewrote the job descriptions for the jobs I was responsible for, redid my interview process, and tried again. The results were better, but still not great. I knew I could make it work, so I kept interviewing, studying, and trying to refine my process. I think the hardest step was when I started to ask the people I was interviewing to rate me as an interviewer. Ouch! That hurt. But I got to be very good at interviews, my people were among the best in the company and I had the lowest turnover. That meant that I got to be a Corporate Clone and I was spending part of my time going around as an in-house consultant. That in turn meant I was on the road a lot, and I got to manage my department by long distance, which made interviews even more important.

Harvey Mackay, envelope entrepreneur and motivational speaker, once wrote that the only two positions in his company that he personally did the interviews for were company president and receptionist. But since those jobs were so vital to his success, he knew he had to take the time and effort to do the interviews right. My own contact information model is loosely based on the Mackay 66 among other things.

Obviously I am not suggesting that you let only behavioral interviewing techniques govern who you work with magickally. For me, desperation and behavioral interviewing forced me to look hard at the outmoded processes I had inherited to come up with something better that worked with what I had and with what I wanted in the future. But by the time I was finished, I ended up with something considerably different than what I started with, even if I used some of the same ideas. And I never relied totally on interviewing.

I'll let you in on a little secret. NONE of the good business books expect you to follow the party line without question. The REALLY GOOD ones try to get you to think outside your boundaries. Why else do you think a book named Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers sells well enough to justify new editions? You can't afford dogma if you want to stay ahead of the competition. Even the classic (and very misused) The Reengineering Revolution is all about looking beyond what used to work to find something that works better now.

It seems that before someone can make real, lasting and effective change in an organization, they have to make real, lasting, and effective change in their thinking. More often than not, they have to make real, lasting, and effective change within themselves.

Stop me if any of this sounds familiar yet.

Harvey Mackay, the author I cited before, has a book We Got Fired!:...And It's The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Us. Talk about dealing with change inside and out.

And what else, you ask, does all this have to do with Paganism? Well, for that, we have to return to small group dynamics. There are only so many ways to put together a small group. There are even fewer ways to keep them together. And there are still fewer ways to keep them effective. No matter on how many levels they have been tied together, Now I am not talking about what is studied in a class, this is the sort of thing where fieldwork and experience are the only teachers. Just as one brief example of difference, an actual business has the ability to get rid of people who are not contributing.

This is a long post already, so I will stick to the basics. First, everyone has to choose to be there. Second, everyone has to honor the reason why the group was brought together. Third, everyone has to contribute positively and measurably towards the success of the group. Fourth, everyone must benefit from the group's work. Of course there is much more to it than that, including surprisingly magickal elements in a few sources.

I won't pretend that business knowledge gives me a complete picture of the inner workings of an oath-bound coven any more than I will claim that a fingerpaint session lets me predict the exact brushstrokes from a hundred paintings selected randomly from the Louvre. And there are probably elements that I can't begin to understand with limited tools and experience. But fingerpaint long enough and you can get some pretty big dreams about just what needs to be painted and how you might go about doing it.

On to the next bit.

"Creating a recipe, perhaps. Creating a chemical formula, certainly. Creating a spell, doubtful. At least not until computers have the ability to truly feel a connection to the divine (after all, spells are a gift from the gods) and be able to incorporate the "human factor" within themselves (since a spell is much more than just intent written on paper). On the other hand, you probably *could* get computers to generate spell books as seen on the bookshelves across the country. Apples and oranges from my perspective between a spell book and an honest-to-goodness spell."

I didn't make myself clear here. I wasn't talking about a computer casting a spell, I was talking about using computer languages and computer coding to teach symbolic logic to people. That I think is a missed opportunity.

Of course, there is the small problem that not all people are computer friendly...

UPDATE: Juliaki did send me an email listing some of her specific concerns, but much of it is information that she doesn't want put all over the internet.

After looking over all the exchanges again, I believe that there are two problems mixed together. Partly it is a symbol mismatch, she has coven experience that I do not and I have business experience that she does not. Each of us can only partially explain our point to the other because any words or examples we could use depends on a shared reference. For example, the word "orgasm" is only a symbol unless you have experienced it. Then it's a symbol that triggers memories. And while the experience differs from person to person and time to time, there is enough of an overlap so that the word conveys the meaning. But if you don't share that reference to start with, the symbol remains abstract.

Partially it is a difference in focus, I'm using the general case that I am familiar with to work towards an understanding, she's using a specific case that she is experiencing to work towards understanding a general case.

Without resolving one or both of those issues, we're not going to get much farther than we are now.

Posted: Thu - August 18, 2005 at 09:08 PM
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