‘FEEDBACK’: NEITHER NOURISHMENT NOR SUPPORT

The insidious cleverness of ‘Newspeak’, the official language of Oceania in Orwell’s ‘1984’, is that it renders the very act of thinking independently, or critically, impossible.

Business jargon – sometimes useful, often funny or obfuscating, surely not dangerous – may be gradually achieving the very same effect.

Admit it: you probably don’t even register the emptiness of words like ‘competencies’, ‘stakeholders’, ‘issues’, or ‘deliverables’ any more, do you?

I caught myself saying ‘drill down’ the other day and had to pause and concentrate to recall the simpler ‘look at in more detail’.

Let us ponder the word ‘feedback’.

We know that it comes from the world of electronics.

The outputs from a system are …er,,,,fed back into the system’s inputs to affect that output ( a thermostat, the electronics of a jet engine etc) which conjures an image of a self-correcting machine that has cleverly baked into its very structure the constant improvement of its own performance.

Stop right there.

The performance here is pre-defined and repetitive.

The feedback cannot include any new or created signals.

Which means new truths and facts.

And we’re using this concept model for communities of people?

In our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world?

Never has independent, critical and creative contribution from everyone in an organisation been needed more.

This ‘feedback’ notion is turning too many activities – from job evaluations to customer service experiences – into joyless, deadened, mechanistic form-filling processes.

And sometimes into dangerously inadequate processes.

There is no room for data that is outside previous experience in a feedback loop.

This word has been used, amongst other jargon words, many times this week.

In statements issued by Oxfam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WE MUST HAVE LUNCH SOMETIME….

Do you remember when young people might routinely say to someone ‘No offence, yeah, but….’ before sharing excoriating insights, or deeply wounding personal observations?

Reminiscent of O’Brien’s approach to the relentless conversion of Winston to love Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984, it’s the gap between what is being stated and what the listener experiences that becomes so painful.

And energy-sapping.

Take – in a small leap – the subject of mindfulness.

There are now more than 1000 mindfulness apps available – all designed to help and support disconnecting from the greedy-attention-absorbing–digital world.

And all of them function by …..greedily absorbing our attention.

An article this week by technology journalist Bianca Bosker describes the unlikely attraction of an app that seeks to do exactly what it claims: no gap between stated promise and experience.

It is called ‘WeCroak’.

Inspired by a Bhutanese saying (and Buddhist belief) – ‘to be a truly happy person, one must contemplate death five times daily’ the app simply sends 5 reminders every day stating ‘don’t forget, you’re going to die’.

Ms Bosker experiences a strange relief from the click-bait / over-sharing app world. Despite the – unflinching? shocking? – purpose and subject of WeCroak, the pure congruence of claim and experience ultimately delivers something special.

The non-invasive clarity, the simple delivery of what has been promised, proves more refreshing over time than any number of meditation or mindful or pause apps with their constant messaging, visual entertainment and over exuberant communication.

The article’s title neatly reverses the phrase ‘ping of death’, which in tech circles used to mean a destructive attack on a system effected by sending an oversized data package.

And it’s this notion of ‘too much’ that links the ‘no offense, yeah’, O’Brien, and calmness apps that don’t calm us.

Too big a gap between assertion and experience is exhausting to decode.

There is just too much (conflicting) data to process.

Perhaps there are other non-Bhutanese sayings that might help with our mental, and physical, health.

Something like ….‘say what you mean to say, do what you mean to do’ would surely help all our energy levels.