Disappointment -- No Soul? LO11888

JC Howell (orgpsych@csra.net)
Sat, 11 Jan 1997 22:39:30 +0000

Replying to LO11791 --

I have received a few responses via email to my post to which Mark Peal
responded publicly. Thanks to all for the kind words.

I feel moved to clarify some observations. Perhaps this will spark some
conversation around this topic. Perhaps not.

First, Mark, there most certainly is someone policing this list. His name
is Richard Karash. I have had a couple of posts bounced back for
reconsideration. I have deferred to his judgement because I could see his

I don't resent this function performed by Rick at all. In fact, I value
it. I have participated in groups where I had to take a vacation to get
away from the negativity and verbal violence directed at everybody. Rick
helps keep this from becoming characteristic of this group and he does it
without seeming to hinder the content. That's a difficult job!

Having said that, let me open the idea of an "inner circle."

I have noticed that many people post items with some pretty good thoughts.
Some interest me and some don't. However, I have also noticed that
threads seem to start and build based on the opinions of a few people.
Here's how this appears to take place.

Let's say that I post an item. It gets a response such as Mark's
response. I may or may not respond and the thread stops there.

Let's say I post another item. It gets a response from one of a few
specific people. Others comment on that person's response and others
comment on those responses, etc. The thread is on and goes through its
appropriate life cycle. What's the difference between these two

There are a few people who seem to hold great sway in what this group
thinks and responds to. This is done by their interest or attention. I
would speculate (pure attribution here) that many people watch to see
these particular people getting involved and decide that this thread must
be worthwhile because THEY'RE interested enough to respond.

What makes these observations more interesting is that I got a private
email from someone whom I would consider one of this group agreeing with
some of what I said. That person doesn't see himself as a member of any
"inner circle."

Whatever controlling body there is within this group may not be
consciously controlling anything. Yet, it happens. The power of control
is given by virtue of those who respond to certain items and do not
respond to others, simply because of the attentions of these particular

I considered whether this was because they were more active participants
in this group. More activity seems to imply more ability to influence the
opinions of others. This idea starts to get weak when I look back at the
number of strongly opinionated people, with pretty fair presentation
skills, who were not among this select group, who have posted regularly
here in the past. Many are no longer associated with this group in any
significant way. I noticed that their posts got fewer and fewer
responses. Perhaps they just weren't saying anything of interest to the
group. This idea got a little weak when I noticed that the first to stop
responding were the chosen few. Others continued for a while but
eventually stopped responding, too.

Looking back over human history it is easy to see that large groups of
people have regularly sought leadership from a few. This gave rise to
kings and emperors. The way of life in the US was so radical because it
was specifically based on having no one person who ruled. Yet, we now
have a body of rulers who will willingly stop all progress in order to see
that their party's agenda is carried out. Every election year we see
messages of change with much public support. Then we go on to re-elect
those same people to their political offices. Corruption continues and
life goes on ... all blessed by the silent (sheep-like?) assent of the

Coming back to this group, this select group of people probably didn't set
out to place themselves in this position. They were put there by those
who decide that their opinions are the best opinions. They now control
what goes on within this group.

I would usually have just left this group if I felt totally unappreciated.
Yet, I have observed this same thing happen over and over again within
organizations. The corporate way of doing things is not that different
between large organizations. We call it politics and it smells the same
everywhere. After people have been in a large organization for a while
they seem to start to do those things as second nature. It's how people
survive in that environment. These practices are a large part of what is
wrong with large organizations (read: companies) around the world. It is
from these practices, in part, that the (paraphrased) purpose of this
group is derived:

How can we break out of these same old ways of doing things and
create new learning in our organizations, thus allowing them to
survive and thrive in a competitive world?

Yet, I believe, we have created the same environment here that we seek to
escape. We place selected people in positions of authority to control
what we do, even if we don't always like what they have us do.

Is there any direct effort to control who gets noticed and who doesn't?

I haven't experienced this first-hand. I have, though, talked to a few
who indicate that they believe they HAVE been so directed. Was this done
by one or more of these select people? I don't know ... I didn't ask. I
only know that that impression is out there among some who would like to
participate more fully but are afraid of getting hurt.

I believe that, if we truly want people to contribute and grow, we have to
allow ourselves the freedom to respond regardless of public opinion. When
this group first started it as not uncommon to see several threads going
at once, each sustained by completely different groups of people. Now it
appears that threads don't last long unless they have the attention of a
very few people.

An obvious questions begs itself here. I will address it and then stop.
Have I ever posted and felt badly if I got no response?


Is that important? Not really. I get a lot out of reading what others
post and, quite honestly, I haven't had the time to post or read
regularly. I have often wondered, before I posted, if my thoughts had
already been covered by someone else and I just didn't see it. So, while
I have sometimes wanted a response and gotten none, I haven't gotten so
worked up that I felt totally unwanted. Besides, people DO occasionally
respond via email.

Does all of this have any merit? You will have to be the judge(s) of
that. I am simply offering observations that have been apparent to me for
a while.

For what it's worth.


Clyde Howell orgpsych@csra.net

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>