We might be stretching a connection here, but it is Saturday and that is now word day for horizontalchange.
The clouds are rolling in here in Northern California with daily temperatures that went from 103 to 90 to 80 to 70 to predicted rain. For us this is gloomy. Gloomy gets the imagination going. So today we are going with the invention of a completely imaginary world, a la the eyes of a child.
A paracosm is a detailed imaginary world, or fantasy world, involving humans and/or animals, or perhaps even fantasy or alien creations. Often having its own geography, history, and language, it is an experience that is developed during childhood and continues over a long period of time: months or even years.
Wikipedia (because my dictionary favorite Merriam-Webster does not consider it a word yet)
This is the kind of imagining that creates Harry Potter worlds (adults can be good at this too- and who knows maybe it does start in childhood).
Here comes the connection to change…
What kind of low level paracosms live, survive or flourish inside organizations?
- Walls built to keep the monsters out
- Conspiracy theories in the middle
- The peasants will storm the castle
Walls built to keep the monsters out
The longer an organization exists the more likely they are to become insular, protective and isolationist. Clear signs this is happening?
-Anyone who comes in to help with change, as a consultant, or contractor must have references from an employee.
-“Procurement” systems get set up. (Efficiency and “control” are the excuses for this- the result is a wall between input and receiver).
-Less sharing of information.
-More functional measures, down to boss to report.
-People who stay forever (admirable in some ways, but frankly a little weird these days).
-Very close minded views of just about everything.
-Ya, but. Anything original gets a “Ya, but…” response.
This may all be the opposite of creating a fantasy world. From the outside these worlds looks a little fantastic- in their disconnect from other worlds created from connection instead of disconnect.
Conspiracy theories in the middle
Take this to the next level and people begin to make up things that could go wrong.
Close things up, disconnect and soon resources will become scarce.
Scarce resources create competition.
Really intense competition, the kind where individuals begin to lose a lot of control, tend to produce conspiracy theories.
The area where there is the least real control (lots of to-do task work, but not much leverage for plans and solutions) is the middle. The middle of big, closed off organizations is ripe for conspiracy. Conspiracy against each other. Conspiracy for the outside world. Conspiracy everywhere. The nice term for that is urban myth.
I you do not “get out of the house” (in this case the “walls” of the organization) you get really good at paracosmic creations.
The peasants will storm the castle
Environments ripe for paracosmists usually have a “wall” built in some way.
The most recent version of this (around for as long as businesses have been, but now becoming obvious) is the wall between the first horizontal and everyone else. We are back to that resource thing again. There are only so many roles at the top-lots of competition. It will be safer for those who scaled to that spot to put a little distance between themselves and the next in line.
If that wall gets built too strong; if that wall lets no one in for a long period of time (like our current business environment) the Dukes and the King start to get into their own paracosms. How strong is that wall really? How big are the gaps between us and them (how much more compensation, benefits, etc.)? Could it be that at some point those on the other side will not be able to take it anymore and stop trying to charge one by one? Could the wall be breeched by a group of them?
Is there is a chance, in this paracosmic world, that the peasants could storm the castle?
All of this happens because of fear and lack of real knowledge and input.
Our little kids creating paracosms may make worlds where everything goes right and life there, in that world, is just plain fun (yes that was mine).
Adults tend to add the monsters, aliens and fantastical creatures.
Larry over there in the next cubicle gets extra appendages and learns how to breathe fire. Come on, you know you have been there…
I am all for imagining. I am all for the creative use of our minds to go to strange places and worlds in order to bring back ideas and possibility. The key might be to go back and forth into the paracosm and the real world. Grab new reality, take it into fantasy and mold that into something helpful. When the paracosms get stronger than reality you have problems. Is your organization filled with REALLY good paracosmists?