Human Synergistics, Richard Prebble, and the end of government

Written By: - Date published: 6:08 am, May 17th, 2015 - 64 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, act, benefits, bill english, business, capitalism, child welfare, Economy, employment, john key, labour, national/act government, phil goff, political parties, Politics, poverty, privatisation, Privatisation, Public Private Partnerships, public services, social democracy, unemployment, welfare - Tags: , , , , , , , ,

You’re on a plane that crashed in the Sonora desert. The pilot and co-pilot are dead, but you and your classmates are unharmed. Your plane was 70 miles off the course that was filed prior to take off and you crashed 50 miles southwest of a mining camp. You have 15 items with which to survive. Rank them from most important to least important. *

This fun-times scenario is a snippet from one of the myriad products available from Human Synergistics, the human resources leeches consultancy currently doing over the workers at the Ministry of Social Development.

Human Synergistics International was founded in 1971 by US psychologist   J. Clayton Lafferty. It wasn’t long before he and his accomplice (now CEO) Robert A. Cooke  had cooked-up a convoluted concoction of psychometric voodoo and prototype HR mumbo jumbo. The centrepiece of this artifice is a device which pigeon-holes human beings into one or more of a dozen categories which are mapped using its own customised version of the Timothy Leary Circumplex. When a sufficient number of workers in an organisation have been subjected to the psychometric voodoo, camouflaged by Human Synergistics’ as a “Life Styles Inventory™”, it is claimed that the results will provide a measure by which the “culture” of the organisation can be analysed. And made to change. Needless to say, just like when any HR consultancy can wangle an opportunity to ply such gobbledygook, the organisation concerned will be shown to be in dire need of more of the said HR consultancy’s services.

Generally there are two main aims with this sort of HR consultancy technique. First is to capture the senior executive management within a touchy-feely, self-actualised and affiliated team spirit euphoria generated by the covert application of various psychological techniques. Human Synergistics International kinda hints at this with the almost inadvertent  disclosure

” . . . Human Synergistics International’s research clearly shows that there is little organisational transformation without significant personal change at the senior leadership level . . . “

The “significant personal change” means fitting into the required sections of some sort of circumplex-like model, as defined and approved of by the HR crew. Once captured, the HR outfit will settle in for long and sumptuous feast.

Typically, however, most senior executives know all about HR and so the aim of the consultants becomes obtaining as much money as possible in return for providing the senior executive team with a reason it doesn’t otherwise have for implementing some form of predetermined and significant change.

Human Synergistics slithered into New Zealand back in 1979. Instrumental in its appearance here was current Director Consultant Michael (Mike) Gourley. Now feasting on the taxpayer’s largesse, Michael Gourley is of interest to politics trainspotters for a few reasons.

First is his intimate involvement in the betrayal of New Zealanders by the Fourth Labour Government. His page at the company’s website once stated . . .

. . . [Gourley] is credited with having a significant role in the successful transformation of Government Trading Departments into State Owned Enterprises. These included airlines, railways, telecommunications, post office, TV stations, forestry, construction and insurance companies, a bank, a computer company, shipping, coal mining, and all the nation’s electricity generation – in today’s terms assets of $100 billion . . .

. . . the page prominently featured a personal and ringing endorsement from neo-liberal bovver boy and former Deputy Sales Manager Minister of State Owned Enterprises, Richard Prebble, who gushed . . .

Michael applied the principles of Human Synergistics to the State Owned Enterprises. Three years later they were all making a profit. The transformation of SOEs into leading edge organisations is one of the biggest business turnarounds ever – anywhere in the world.

Yeah, right.

As far as I can tell with my limited google-fu, Richard Prebble has been publicly pimping for Human Synergistics since 2001. In an opinion piece for the New Zealand Fox News Herald in which he was spouting HR bollocks about culture change, he also provided a remarkable display of both his fealty-like loyalty to the HR consultancy, and his intellectual ability in forming a sound argument. He wrote . . .

. . . Associate Professor R.A. Cook, of the University of Illinois in Chicago, has, with the Human Synergistics Centre for Applied Research, surveyed more than two million managers worldwide, including in New Zealand. His research showed there was no connection between a company’s mission statement and its economic performance.

When we look around the world we can see that this is true for countries as well. Cuba has wonderful mission statements and appalling poverty. Liechtenstein, one of the world’s richest countries, has no mission statements . . .

Next up, Michael Gourley appears in a starring role in Prebble’s 2006 plaintive whine “Out of the Red”. Still banging on about culture change, Prebble ends up providing one long advertisement for Human Synergistics and its “leading practitioner” Michael Gourley. Neo-liberal cheerleader and editor of the National Business Review, Nevil Gibson, gave Prebble’s effort a glowing review. Gibson ejaculated . . .

. . . it is about a means of making successful organisations and businesses through a management philosophy with the clunky name of Human Synergistics. Mr Prebble tells how he introduced this method, and its leading practitioner Michael Gourley, into the Labour Party before the 1985 election.

It was then applied by the Lange-Douglas cabinet, allowing it to make a series of far-reaching decisions to overcome the country¹s serious economic plight at the time. How did it settle so many radical (but non-ideological) solutions, not usually the concern of a Labour Party, and then launch the country back on the path to prosperity? . . .

Today New Zealand is more than 100 billion dollars in debt. And rising.

Rather than a starring role, Michael Gourley makes a cameo appearance in Michael Bassett’s 2010 book “Working with David: Inside the Lange Cabinet”.

Back in March 1988 David Lange had a clear idea about what lay ahead for New Zealanders as the long-term consequences of Roger Douglas’ psychopathic worshipping of the metaphysical Invisible Hand gradually materialised. Not a happy-chappy, David Lange could hardly bring himself to speak to the shower of shit which formed the large part of his treacherous Cabinet. Bassett writes about this time . . .

. . . Richard Prebble persuaded cabinet to participate in an exercise conducted by his friend Michael Gourley, who ran an organisation called Human Synergistics. It specialised in getting colleagues to confront difficulties that impeded their capacity to work closely together […] Prebble told Roger Douglas, Bill Jeffries and me that his goal was to assist Lange to manage relations with his cabinet. The exercise involved ministers filling out a series of forms about themselves and then analysing the results . . .

While deeply hurt, David Lange maintained his wits about him and, according to Bassett, chose not to engage with the process.

David Lange’s reluctance to promulgate any more products derived from Douglas’ neo-liberal disconnection from reality eventually resulted in Douglas stepping down. A year later and it was game-over for David Lange. Its almost as if Human Synergistics had done its work. David Lange was pigeon-holed into its fabricated Circumplex Red Zone while the members of Labour’s Caucus had affiliated their self-actualisation into the equally fabricated Blue Zone. The “Caucus Team” was operating at the “higher-order satisfaction needs level” where its “Humanistic-Encouraging” behaviour was “sensitive and supportive of it own members.” Accordingly, by voting their fellow Blue Zoner, Roger Douglas, back into Cabinet, Caucus told Red Zoner David Lange to fuck off . So he did, weeping for his fellow New Zealanders and what lay ahead.

So, with the power companies and Housing New Zealand going down the gurgler, here we are in 2015. For the last wee while Creepy Key has been scampering around the countryside photo-bombing Prince Harry leaving  notorious benefit cheat and Finance Minister, Blinglish, to announce the “transformation” of citizenship as we “transition” into mere “customers”.  Government, in the mysterious mind of Blinglish, really is a business. Blinglish is now talking about bringing relief to “children in poverty” by delivering “choice” through the “mainstreaming the social investment process” and rolling out “social impact bonds” with results delivered by “community providers”. No need to trouble people’s lives with interference from government, it will, instead, use “big data” to monitor every aspect of their existence from birth onwards for “wrap around assistance” from “navigators” . . . no need for a whole or part of a Ministry of Social Development. Just like the provision of electricity to the nation, The Market will provide. Kinda like Roger Douglas, Richard Prebble, and the 1988 Labour Caucus never went away.

And, guess what? Human Synergistics is all over it until, at least, 2021. Talk about a long and sumptuous HR feast.

dilbert for human synergistics

(* Snippet included as “fair use”. The internet does not forget.)

64 comments on “Human Synergistics, Richard Prebble, and the end of government ”

  1. Had to go look into the circumplex to understand what was being said in this post. When I did so, found myself feeling a little nauseous at the way such a tool could be used to divide and dehumanise people.

    • BLiP 1.1

      On its surface, there’s more science in the horoscope than there is in Human Synergistics’ circumplex but it is actually a very clever device. In effect, it introverts a person or organisation, distracting them from discerning what management is really up to. A bit like a slow-motion boxer’s feint the split second before the knockout punch is delivered. Its also a bit risky if a person subject to it is on the edge psychologically speaking. An MSD worker I spoke to last week told me the effect can leave a person wandering around like those poor people who have been mindfucked by that rip off Landmark Education cult.

      • weka 1.1.1

        Cult is exactly what I was thinking. That’s the word for enforcing people to undergo psychological mindfuckery when they have very little outs (can’t quit the job or how do I feed the kids etc), and applying it to groups where the inherent meme is get with the program or there is something wrong with you.

        This is an excellent post BliP, very important historical context and highlighting the seriousness of what is happening currently.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1

          From Gilbert vs. Transfield:

          As well as the psychometric test for recruitment purposes being of dubious value to the very different exercise of selection for redundancy, Transfield created an additional problem for itself by purchasing and using an assessment tool which it could not and did not understand or explain to affected employees or indeed to the Court at the hearing.

          Is there a case for an immediate court injunction against MSD proceeding any further with this human rights abuse of their employees?

          If not on these grounds, how about on the grounds that the entire measurement scale is based on pseudoscience?

  2. Differentview 2

    Thanks for this! I have long suspected that exactly such expert use of psychology has been made by those whose wealth and connections added the power of deeds to the power of knowledge.

    But my personal history is such that I was thinking of the US then, and saw such intervention as beginning there, long before the Lange era here (when I was not yet here). I see that you have traced this particular group back to a US origin, and I wonder if further background investigation would prove interesting. You have solved a mystery that has long puzzled me: How did Lange survive? Literally. Now I see that there were controls in place that made any more drastic intervention unnecessary.

    However, while I found this piece very worthwhile, and I understand your emotions, I suggest that your audience and influence will remain very limited unless you can present the quite-sufficiently-damning facts in a more measured way. The fact that those well-organised and expert psychologists have been so wildly successful should provide a strong lesson in the need to craft the delivery of your message with great care. And I would love to see a much wider audience considering the significance of such behind-the-scenes interventions.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      expert psychologists is an oxymoron

      91.5% of psychiatry/psychology studies confirmed the effects they were looking for. Fanelli, 2010.

      roughly 1.6% of all psychology publications used the term replication in text. A more thorough analysis of 500 randomly selected articles revealed that only 68% of articles using the term replication were actual replications, resulting in an overall replication rate of 1.07%

      Makel et al 2012.

      The whole field is bollocks.

      • higherstandard 2.1.1

        [lprent: deleted ]

      • RAF 2.1.2

        re: the post by OAB which suggests the whole field of psychology is “bollocks”.

        Here’s some of the reasons why I’d disagree:

        http://www.zimbardo.com/downloads/2004%20Psychology%20makes%20a%20significant%20difference.pdf

        My very first posting on any blog anywhere ever – so forgive any etiquette breaches etc 🙂

        Not sure how to make the URL clickable

        – confession: Am an Associate Professor of Psychology 😉

        • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.2.1

          Serendipitous gains don’t negate the implications of Finelli or Makel’s findings.

        • Jan Rivers 2.1.2.2

          The Human Synergistics analytical model has a particularly awful characteristic compared with the other made up pseudo-scientific schemes. People’s assessments are made public to the whole team inviting judgment and denigration of people who are in the supposedly ‘bad’ segments.

          Interestingly.

          Blue good
          Red bad
          Green bad.

          Subtle eh!

          http://www.hsnz.co.nz/TransformingCultureAndLeadership/Circumplex.aspx

          • Jan Rivers 2.1.2.2.1

            Psychology isn’t rubbish but I don’t think these formulaic, commercially developed personality categorising models have any scientific validity do they?

            They do not even past the first test of being open for peer review. The questions and the model they encode are copyrighted because otherwise they could not be sold again and again.

            Privatisation therefore prevents proper evaluation.

        • Tracey 2.1.2.3

          what do you think of the synergetics programme specifically

      • Tracey 2.1.3

        gosmans partner is a psychologist

    • Colonial Rawshark 2.2

      However, while I found this piece very worthwhile, and I understand your emotions, I suggest that your audience and influence will remain very limited unless you can present the quite-sufficiently-damning facts in a more measured way.

      Just point a few MSD employees to this post.

      Facebook and Twitter will do the rest.

  3. swordfish 3

    Sounds like a cheap, dumbed-down rip-off of Myers-Briggs, albeit imbued with some additional cult-like mind-games.

    Incidentally, Gibson’s grasp of electoral history is a little shaky (not to mention his grasp on reality). There was no “1985 Election” in New Zealand.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      That’s like claiming someone invented a cheap, dumbed-down rip-off of snake oil.

  4. irascible 4

    A similar band wagon toured through NZ schools in the late 80s-early 90s which persuaded teachers that the way to “improve” results in the classroom was through identifying each student’s “learning style” with a host of psychometric tests based on the Myers-Briggs descriptors then structuring lessons to provide for each individual’s “learning style” be it by writing their notes in a sand box to playing especially selected pieces of music as a back ground to the lesson… the whole band wagon has been discredited but still persists as part of some “doctrine of repeated belief”.

  5. jenny kirk 5

    I vaguely remember Michael Gurley being in the background …. and I have long wondered just how Douglas, Prebble et al had managed to “persuade” so many seemingly intelligent MPs into taking up so whole-heartedly the neo-liberal version of economics which was so very obviously against the principles of the then Labour Party, and against the wishes/beliefs of many activists at that time, in the Party.

    BLiP explains how it might have come about more clearly. And I wonder, Swordfish, if Gibson meant the 1984 election, or even earlier – the 1981 election because before Douglas became Minister of Finance, Rowling had warned Lange not to put him in that position so whatever “manipulation” was going on within the Labour caucus had been happening well before the 1984 snap election.

    • swordfish 5.1

      While I have mixed feelings about Lange, he does/did have quite a lot to answer for. A greatly disheartened and disillusioned Douglas – slapped down by Rowling – was all set to resign from Parliament in 1981 (thus sparing the Country his Uber-Friedmanite extremism) until Lange promised him Finance in the event of Lange winning the leadership.

      • jenny kirk 5.1.1

        To Swordfish @ 5.1 – yeah, in hindsight that was a missed opportunity. My thinking is that you could put it down to Lange’s lack of political knowledge and experience at that particular time.

        On the other hand, when he did finally realise what was going on and tried to stop it, the juggernaught had been well and truly set loose and was impossible to control.

        I am also not sure if he (Lange) thought to try and obtain support from any possibly like-minded Ministers in Cabinet. I don’t think he did. I don’t think he knew how to. He tried to do things on his own and was continually slapped down by Caucus. For new MPs this was indescribably awful to witness.

        • Karen 5.1.1.1

          I also think Lange had no understanding of economics and was willing to believe the best of Roger Douglas because he came from an old Labour Party family. Lange also liked Prebble on a personal basis. He was willing to trust them, and believe them when they claimed their economic theories would benefit all New Zealanders, not just a greedy elite.

          I always thought that when he realised the truth he felt betrayed and lost confidence in his own ability to judge people, and that’s why he didn’t try and get support from others in the caucus who were opposed to Rogernomics.

          Thanks to BLiP’s excellent post I now think that the kind of bonding sessions undertaken by Gourley’s mob would have put Lange even more on the outside, and made impossible to break through.

          I too have mixed feelings about Lange. I think he was a good and caring human being and a brilliant orator, but he also made it possible for Roger Douglas to enact policies that have caused longterm social and economic damage to this country.

          • Colonial Rawshark 5.1.1.1.1

            In summary. Lange was the perfect man for the job that the Right Wing neoliberals wanted done.

            • RedLogix 5.1.1.1.1.1

              No – I once had lunch with Lange (Just the six of us) about two months prior to his resignation.

              It was well prior to me becoming politically aware so I’ll not claim any special knowledge from that event – except for this. It was plain to me that Lange no longer wanted to be PM.

              The job had killed his naturally ebullient and vocal spirit. He could no longer say what he really wanted to say and he wanted out. That much I recall clearly.

              I see that entire government as a tragedy on many levels, for the people of NZ first and foremost. Douglas and Prebble were a pair of ideological nutbars who were had the reins of power dropped into their hands from a public service beaten and cowed by Muldoon. And given a smokescreen by a popular and charismatic PM.

              And it was also a tragedy for Lange. His dream certainly turned to ashes in the worst way possible – and in hindsight it is hard to see how else it might have turned out given the infamy and treachery of his own Cabinet.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                To be clear, I didn’t mean that Lange was anything more than an ‘involuntary martyr’ when I said that he fitted the right wingers bill perfectly.

        • just saying 5.1.1.2

          Lange was the member for Mangere.

          Despite having grown-up in privilege in an estate within Mangere he went to local schools and socialised in his community. More then most in parliament he knew about structural disadvantage and inequality.

          But he was a self-indulgent Prime-Minister who seemed to be more about enjoying a second, more successful adolescence than public service, imo. He did not represent the interests of his constituency or the public good. That he noticed what a disaster the caucus he led was creating, eventually, may be to his credit, but rather than stay and fight he cried “poor me” and crawled away. He was too self-involved to notice that it was not “poor david Lange” but “poor Mangere”. He was fine. His family was fine. Mangere, and the working class are still reaping the poisonous consequences of the actions and inactions of his government.

          There was no acknowledgement, no apology, no attempt at reparation.
          And still none from the party.

          • jenny kirk 5.1.1.2.1

            You are incorrect, Just Saying. David Lange did apologise publicly. He was hurt that no-one seemed to take any notice of it.
            I don’t think he was self-indulgent. and he DID stay and fight. He fought for almost two years (I cannot remember the date he retired but he started fighting from about March, April 1987 – there is documentation to attest to that) and it wrecked his health.
            And – I regret to say – at the time, his Party let him down. Many of us wanted Prebble and Douglas ousted but the Party couldn’t do it – presumably there were litigation concerns .

            Sorry to be so long in answering these comments – but I only look at my computer occasionally during the day. I don’t know how the rest of you manage to maintain a conversation ….. ? ? Perhaps someone could enlighten me ? Although if it involves more technological stuff it won’t help me ! !

            • just saying 5.1.1.2.1.1

              I wasn’t aware he apologised.
              All I saw at the time, was his comedy road trip with that comedian (too tired to remember his name) and public interviews about his personal problems.
              I’d be interested to see the apology if you know where it can be found.
              thanks.

            • ropata 5.1.1.2.1.2

              Jenny, if you always comment under the same user name, then you can track conversations using the “Replies” tab at the top right (by the comments feed).

        • Tracey 5.1.1.3

          perhaps lange was looking to take a leap and foolishly believed douglas gave a shit about equality of opportunity and distribution?

    • Tracey 5.2

      why do people assume so many MPs are intelligent 😉

      greed and self interest can make the best brains mushy

      • Macro 5.2.1

        Interesting talking to MPs over the weekend – whose brains are far from mushy – one learned a lot about the parliamentary “process”. Lange was new to Parliament and pushed into the position of leader, being then the darling of the Media. Being new he was easily manipulated by the then “more experienced” Douglas and Prebble et al who pushed their own hidden agenda.

  6. ianmac 6

    A few years ago there was a “course” available whereby people paid big money to be humiliated big time then rehabilitated with assertive training. People who I met came out as strangely different, unnatural and staringly assertive. So could Human Synergistics be of the same mold or even the same company.
    Ordinary people being manipulated does not bode well for a healthy society. Scientology anyone?

    • Colonial Rawshark 6.1

      Ordinary people throughout NZ have been manipulated and shaped over the last 30 years – its very obvious.

      • ropata 6.1.1

        We have fallen far from vision of the third Labour government 🙁

        The sixties and all that “peace love and music” was almost 2 generations ago.
        The pursuit of money at all costs, has fucked up everything.

        Our sick culture of greed needs religion (real religion…) or psychedelic drugs, or some kind of revolution to turn our cultural values up the right way.

        People before profit.

  7. The Murphey 7

    It should be painfully obvious that a great many politicians were selected for specific purposes

    Nothing has changed including the memberships the politicians hold today nor the methods of manipulation

    The Tavistock Institute is the mother ship of modern pseudo science which is the only industry which can legally take anyone away and experiment on them

    The entire industry is a bust without a single scientific method of testing any of the so called `mental health illnesses `

    http://rt.com/uk/258133-antidepressants-unnecessary-for-many/

    Q. Who is signing up this bunked industry offering and and who is the pusher ?

    • Colonial Rawshark 7.1

      Great article – psych drugs kill 500K+ westerners annually for minimal benefits. Well, minimal benefits other than uber profits for big pharma.

      • The Murphey 7.1.1

        His scathing analysis will likely prove controversial among traditional medics.

        However, concern is mounting among doctors and scientists worldwide that psychiatric medication is doing more harm than good. In particular, they say antipsychotic drugs have been overprescribed to many dementia patients in a bid to calm agitated behavior

        The walls are coming down yet NZ signs up to the quackery

        • Colonial Rawshark 7.1.1.1

          I will say that there are likely a few select cases where these drugs can be quite useful…but when 5% or 10% or 20% of the population has been prescribed them, that is just taking the piss

          • The Murphey 7.1.1.1.1

            When the intention is to hook as high a percentage as possible up through nefarious means the entire program must be disposed of

            Unfortunately that will include any positive gains

            The same is true of any established frameworks which are too rotten to remediate

            • RedLogix 7.1.1.1.1.1

              I have to agree.

              Depression is an awful condition and people suffering from it cannot be at all blamed for trying anything that makes it better. Sadly though there is a great deal of evidence that many of the drugs people finish up being hooked onto for years and years come with a very high price.

              I’ve seen that price up close and personal in my own family life and it was a nightmare I still hold deep regrets about.

              To my mind the only real question worth asking – is why is depression (and it’s cousin anxiety) so extraordinarily common in the modern world?

              PS … on reflection I don’t mean for this to be a thread diversion. The OP is a brilliant and timely topic.

              • Colonial Rawshark

                We’ve too quickly medicalised socio-economic issues in order to not have to deal with the socio-economic issues.

                • Tracey

                  did you see a recent study that showed meditation was as effective as anti depressants in reducing recurrance of depressive episodes?? meditation… a tool not a mask and cheaper than pharmas

                  • ropata

                    SSRIs are hard drugs but a severely depressed person is at high risk of self medicating in dangerous ways. A monitored course of anti depressants can help sort chemical imbalances while the person rebuilds their life.

                    For most people, maintaining social connection and regular exercise are the simplest ways to emerge from the funk of ennui.

                    • Ariadne

                      For most people, maintaining social connection and regular exercise are the simplest ways to emerge from the funk of ennui.

                      Thank you.

                      Your influence is greatly appreciated!

                      And thanks for the anti-depressant bit- I hope they help my mum.

                    • ropata

                      You’re welcome.

                    • Tracey

                      so did you see the study or not?

                      exercise plus meditation are free and very effective for those fighting depression. i wasnt suggesting no meds but rather more open minds to effective ways to help sufferers

                  • ropata

                    Didn’t see it, but I believe you.
                    CBT, mindfulness, breathing techniques are similar helpful therapies that helped me.

  8. RedBaronCV 8

    I’ve seen more of some of this stuff than I need. Fortunately in the groups there is usually someone who will ask a few searching questions and the trainer either loses their rag or starts hounding the “difficult questioner” and then the rest of the group basically loses interest because they start seeing it for what it is. And the merciless pounding they get out the back in the lunch room is always interesting

    • just saying 8.1

      Not necessarily. Sometimes they agree with management that the questioner is a trouble-maker with “issues”. And in some situations, the kool-aid is designed to feel good.

  9. did a bit of these scenario stuff from hs, as described at the top of the post, in the past mainly as team building exercises I have to say – intellectually interesting as lifeboat analysis is but ultimately so non-real-world as to be worth little – certainly how we used them

    the deeper information within the post shows a darker, ulterior, and interconnected history that is disturbing, but necessary, to read – thanks BLIP

  10. concerned citizen 10

    Have worked now in 2 orgs using the ‘building blue’ scheme, and people have been pretty cynical about culture change on the whole. Often there isn’t transformative change, or a productivity gain. Management then tends to start blaming employees for not having played along.

  11. Tangential, but maybe illustrative as a parable of this fantasy of a dog-eat-dog world HR idiots jerk off over, an old skit from Alas Smith and Jones or maybe Not the Nine O’clock news went something like this, referring to the case to a airliner crash in the Andes in which surviving passengers resorted to cannibalism:

    Survivor: “So on the twentieth day… we drew lots and… Oh my God, we nominated one to go into the wreck and… and…”

    Interviewer: “It’s alright, go on.”

    Survivor: “We pulled them out, we… it was terrible, we cut strips off… they were…” [sobbing]

    Interviewer: “You actually ate… the airline food?”

    Survivor: [Calmly] “Well yeah, we’d already eaten the other passengers.”

  12. John Shears 12

    Thanks BLIP, Made me look to see if TWI still existed ,was trained in and used it in the 1950’s and lo and behold Toyota . now the worlds leading vehicle maker and Japans biggest company uses the principles of TWI which is called Kaisen in Japanese.

    Worth a glance at
    http://trainingwithinindustry.net/kaizen.html
    Leaves the Synergistic babble for dead.

    • Colonial Rawshark 12.1

      +1

    • ropata 12.2

      Not all management fads are bad. The Japs adapted “Kaizen” from US military doctrine because the Yank car makers didn’t want to know.
      The Jap car industry continued to improve in technology and quality while the Yanks kept churning out their crappy rust buckets.

      On the other hand a veneer of trendy psycho babble will not fix a company when the management are treating the workers like crap.

  13. Stickler 13

    How very accurate, when you write:
    “the aim of the consultants becomes obtaining as much money as possible in return for providing the senior executive team with a reason it doesn’t otherwise have for implementing some form of predetermined and significant change”.

    And the aim of those hiring the consultants is to obtain someone else’s imprimatur on a course of action they have already decided on, but need some official professional smoke-and-mirrors to be provided around an affirmation that their preferred course of action is the only One True Way.

    How many times do we have to see this “justification” charade acted out? How many times to we have to fork out a mint to “consultants” so that we can have someone to blame when it all goes tits up? Mary-Anne Fahey used to say, Dolly made me do it. In this bad movie loop, Human Synergistics will be playing the role of Dolly.

  14. just saying 14

    Meant to say before getting into rants about side-issues – Brilliant post Blip.
    There’s so much to all this. Tentacles everywhere.

  15. Karen 15

    Just remembered a brilliant piece of television drama written by Dean Parker that showed exactly how this kind of stuff was used in the workplace to undermine unions. It was used in car assembly plants and was known as “the Nissan way.” The drama was called “Share the Dream” and is available to watch on NZ on Screen:

    http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/share-the-dream-1997

    Make the effort to watch it – it is well worth it. Just made me get angry all over again.

  16. feijoa 16

    It is some years since I worked for government in the DHB and also education, and the main thing I recall is the huge disconnect between staff and management. It was like there was 2 completely different cultures operating separately.
    Makes sense when I read this Blip.
    It’s not only weird religious cults that try and brainwash people – it’s governments too….
    scary stuff

  17. tc 17

    Been through a few back in the 90’s with one resulting in 50% resigning as they didn’t see their lives having meaning in the current organisation after the course…..ouch.

    The organisation immediately ‘refocused’ and ‘realigned’ the course providers to avoid such soul searching by their employees in future.

    That aircrash scenario was there also except it went down in a DMZ I recognised it immediately

  18. Sable 18

    Ah, the Human Remains department. Where would we be without them. Happy and working in productive organisations would be my guess.

  19. Karen 19

    Jane Bowron has a piece in the Dominion Post today about this company and their contract with the Ministry of Social Development. It doesn’t have the background information BLiP has supplied, however.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/comment/columnists/68614620/bowron-going-blue-makes-me-see-red

    I think we need to find out more about this lot and expose them.

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