Wednesday Open Thread: Problem Solving in Real Time (with free example)

It's Day 339 of the Year 2018 CE

So, December 5, 2018 - for my reference if nothing else.




IMG_20170115_173921033




By some quirk of fate it is Repeal Day celebrating the solution of a host of self-inflicted problems and troubles caused by the misguided puritanical banning of alcoholic beverages. It is also World Soil Day, raising awareness of a small host of interrelated problems still needing to be solved and International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development hinting at one approach to working on those and other problems. This makes it an auspicious time to follow up my essay on the need to not actively be part of "the problem", to eschew doing harm, or wrong, or bad stuff. In that essay, entitled "First do no Harm", I concluded that

Thus, all of us should be dedicated to "first do no harm", even indirectly, as an action maxim. Long before trying to ascertain how to maximize the total good, we need to stop abetting the bad. "Don't fuck it up!" is, after all, an instinctive motto.

I then linked to a little ditty by Katie Goodman in which, in response to a world that is fucked up, she elicits the idea that we should become "unfuckers" of that same world.



Just as it may be argued that those not part of the solution are part of the problem, so too could one contend that those not part of the problem are, at least in many cases, part of the solution. Thus, "do no harm" can become a real part of addressing problems of certain types and classes. It is also primo ethical behavior, I mean, really, doing harm is not good behavior and it is not a good thing. In addition, abstention from wrongdoing can merge into some affirmative problem solving as well, because the boundary isn't at all always clear. I thought today I might illustrate a potentially workable method for working toward unfucking things in a half ways organized manner. The first step is to pick a problem. I hope everybody realizes that most of the world's problems are really collections of related and sometimes mutually reinforcing problems, problem trees that, though distinct, often are cross-linked as well. Worse, or maybe better yet, each problem will generally have many parts, and this is a good thing. Our task is to find a problem that has a part that can be cured or at least ameliorated by some personal behavior modification and then work on making that modification.



It needs to be noted that this process is iterative. If you have picked something that you manage to solve in one fell swoop, and do so, then clearly you need to find yet another problem to work on. More likely is that you will make some changes and take some actions that will mean that you are no longer helping to cause the problem, and which you will continue to take, and still move on to yet another problem as those behavioral changes become routine and habitual. By way of analogy, we aren't so often simply changing a tire, one and done, as we are resolving to keep all the tires at the proper pressure, requiring regular periodic pressure checks and adjustments. In either case, once we have it nailed, it is time to look for something else we can work on. So, by way of example I decided to focus on plastic pollution. This is an enormous problem ranging from the Pacific Gyre (https://www.theoceancleanup.com/great-pacific-garbage-patch/ ) to the still unfinished problem of microbeads (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-microbead-ban-fail_us_57432a7... ) to a host of other problems such as described in a recent 3 part series in Scientific American. ( https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earth-has-a-hidden-plastic-pr... , https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/from-fish-to-humans-a-micropl... , https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/solving-microplastic-pollutio... ) So what can each of us as individuals do about that. For one thing, we can decide not to be part of the problem. Leading off, we can read those articles to get a better of the magnitude and nature of the problem and some of the causes of some of the parts of the problem. We can review those causes for things where we are a factor, things that we do that exacerbate some parts of the problem, and then try to stop doing whatever it is that we are doing to worsen things or contribute to the status quo.



So let's cheat for a little. Lets go directly to the issue of single use plastics, use once and then pollute and kill forever. Bad things in a myriad of shapes, types and forms that damn near all of us use and probably use to excess. By that use, even if we try to recycle them, we contribute to the problem. Attempting to do no harm means we should attempt to quit using them, or to minimize such use. The more you think about doing so, the more you realize all of the vast number of types of single use plastic out there and how much of it you can do without. The classic Reduce, Re-use, Recycle needs to be expanded to include replace and avoid as adjuncts to reduce and there must be a major refocus on re-use rather than recycle until we get the technology and processing plants to make it a reality. That will probably require government action, which, means that it will never get done in the US. There is no clear, direct, near term market based solution to the recycling problem, and in the US, that means that there is no solution at all.



Cola, soda and pop bottles can sometimes be replaced with metal cans or glass bottles, but, frankly, the stuff is toxic and the production is an environmental disaster, so why not wean yourself away from them. Should you wind up with some, there are instructable you-tubes demonstrating conversions of the tops into upside down hanging planters, and the bottoms into plastic string.

Bottled water can be replaced by refillable reusable hikers or backpackers water bottles which come in both metal and plastic. If your tap water sucks, there are tons of other options such as refilling from reusable gallon bottles which are in turn refilled at water dispensers, such as those outside and inside of many stores these days. We sometimes carry a gallon or two from home when on trips in the car to places where we aren't sure about the water and then refill them as need be,

Somewhere between sugar-pop and water is bottled tea or iced coffee, which can be made at home and carried in reusable water bottles or food storage bottles.

Replace single use bags with reusable ones. This is obvious and you probably already do, though you might forget to take them along now and then. Allow me to suggest Chico Bags (TM) - made of recycled plastic bottles and such, they are stuffable into built in pockets and easy to carry at all times. ( https://www.chicobag.com/ ) They come in a ton of shapes and sizes including reusable snack bags for carrying single servings of snack stuff bought in bulk. Take them everywhere and use them for everything, clothing stores, shoe stores, school supplies, medications, etc. Should you wind up with single use plastic bags, from veggie or grocery purchases, or loaves of bread, save them. They can be used for anything which you would ordinarily put into a bag, baggie or plastic wrap. We keep a stash on the kitchen counter. A lot of bread and other dough recipes tell you place the dough in a (lightly greased) bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Nope, stuff it in a plastic bag and tuck the loose ends under the bottom instead. Got some leftovers in a bowl or dish that you'd ordinarily cover with wrap? Stuff it in a plastic bag and tuck the ends under instead. Except for freezing, stuff that goes in baggies can go in bags which are then folded over a few times (or wrapped a few times) to seal/close. Even for freezing, some recycled bags, closed by twist ties and or blue tape will work.

Look for bread in paper bags, which can then be recycled, assuming that you don't already make your own bread. Otherwise, save the bags.

There are vast hordes of stuff sold in single serving plastic packages which can be bought in bulk and repackaged for single serving in bags you've saved from other purchases (re-use), or some of the various chico-bag options.

Buy cheese, sliced cheese, lunch meats and such from the deli counter and provide your own re-used and reusable bags.

Buy bulk instead of pre-packaged and bring your own bags to put it in wherever possible. This includes hardware items too.



So, that's some ways we can stop being part of that particular part of the problem, to the extent that we actually are. That's not remotely a complete list, but it's a start. There are more, and we can discover and share them, and that is part of the job of ceasing to be part of the problem aka being an unfucker. That in totality, however, is only a small part of the problem. Assuming we did all that and more, what else? Well, there's plastic wrap. A lot of stuff gets wrapped that could instead be put into re-useable plastic bags, including plastic bags that held bread or other purchased goods which are re-used as general purpose plastic bags. Often plastic wrap is used to cover bowls of stuff, some large enough that they could be covered repeatedly with a shower cap which could be washed for re-use. There are even companies that sell various sized washable covers made along the same pattern as shower caps, "covermate" (tm) is one such. Alternatively, most such things can be stuffed into a recycled single-use bag and sealed by tucking the ends under, using a twist tie, or the like.



A lot of what's out there isn't single use stuff, but stuff designed for many other longer term uses that finally wore out, got lost, or wasn't really all that durable to start with. often these are storage containers for which the lids broke. That is solvable as above under plastic wrap, and otherwise as well. Again, one needs to look for and find ways to do without some of that stuff. Glass jars (including re-used and recycled ones) can replace plastic storage solutions. So can glass or ceramic bowls in various shapes and sizes. If they need lids, some come with lids, unfortunately made of rubber or plastic, and there are other solutions such as plastic bags and the "covermate" type lids mentioned above. A lot of plastic stuff that cracks or breaks can be repaired using products like "Bondic" (tm) and "Sugru" (tm), though one needs to consider cost-benefit trade-offs in a lot of those types of cases.



In short, there are many actions we can take, or behavioral changes that we can make to reduce the extent to which we are part of some parts of the plastic waste and trash pollution problem without even thinking too hard about it or unduly inconveniencing ourselves. In similar fashion we can attack other parts of that same problem, or seek parts of other problems that may be amenable to the same sort of approach. The main thing is not to do harm to the extent that we may avoid so doing. There is a vast panoply of problems, sub-problems and parts thereof awaiting our examination in the search for changes we can make in order to eschew wrong-doing. All we have to do is to decide to minimize the harm we do, and to get to work on finding ways to do so. Then, as an additional good deed, we can share those solutions.



(Image: IMG_20170115_173921033 by Mike Linksvayer -- public domain)



OK, it's an open thread, so go for it ...


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enhydra lutris's picture

sometime this morning, taking a couple of gallons of water from home plus our hiking bottles and some food and snacks (coals to Newcastle) in re-used and re-usable bags, as always. This is silly, since we're off to the land of really, really good cheeses,but something of a diet/health issue so that we don't just pork out on said cheeses. The wine will be bad enough without all of the other local gustatory delights. It is, however, habit, evn though we might, as we often do, come back with more chow than we left with.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

QMS's picture

I daresay this should be taught in the schools. Along with the reduce and repurpose themes, I am watching innovations. New thinking on old problems. You are right that govt. lacks the incentive to mitigate disaster pollution. I was excited to see some brainiac come up with the concept of using a log splitter to compress leaves into burnable logs in a tube. Co-genereation works. Thinking beyond established parameters. The floating plastic harvesters in Hawaii are encouraging. Perhaps compress the single use plastics into building materials. Stabilized to concrete strength with recycled resins. Better than choking the landfills. If the Gates and Bezos of the world were to fund competitions, and the schools challenged the students to become involved, new thinking can help save the earth from our consumptive patterns.

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Listen to your higher mind.

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS
suitable wastes into building materials. It always seemed like a good idea to me. I remember reading decades ago about a Japanese project that was doing something along those lines,compressing "garbage" under heat and then resin coating it, but I have never heard anything about it since, so I guess that it fizzled.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

then, for pity's sake, get off your duff at long last and finally do your part as citizen of America and the world and create one in which all of us can share!

Wait. That doesn't seem quite right.

I have a better idea: Whether or not you know of a problem that you can unfuck, follow el's wonderful suggestions and and also, to the best of your ability, unfuck any other problem you can think of.

Speaking of pot, er, of prohibition, some numb nuts, dumb ass foreigner had the nerve to immigrate to America and bad mouth it, instead of recognizing how exceptional it was ("it" referring to either America or prohibition--your choice). *https://www.causes.com/causes/488636-i-support-the-legalization-of-marij...

In a film course I once took at night, I watched a montage of Nazi propaganda documentary films made by a then very young and physically lovely Leni Riefenstahl for Himmler. I have not since any film maker so meticulous and skillful. You know those hordes of people you see in films like her Triumph of the Will? Who would ever think that hundreds and thousands of marchers and members of a stadium audience, at least those whom the camera shows, were all cast, one by one, to ensure that they embodied both the Ayran ideal without looking authoritarian or otherwise unpleasant in any way? But, yes, she cast every one.

At one point in one of the documentaries the prof showed us that night, Hitler must have made a mistake in a speech he was giving, with all the furor we usually from die Fuhre her, when he was speaking to huge audiences. However, at some point, he must have made a mistake, perhaps an off color one. I don't know. I don't understand German. So, he immediately tried to suppress an embarrassed chuckle, raising his shoulders and putting his fingertips over his mouth, much as any coy silent film actress may have done appealingly. And, yes, it was for a nanosecond, almost enough to forget what we now know and find him --I almost cannot type this--endearing.

Most film makers striving so incredibly hard for perfection, as did Riefenstahl, would have cut the error. In her early twenties, however, Riefenstahl knew better.

All of which leads up to my telling you what I saw from Bush 43 and Trump this morning. Melania Trump, in a gesture that was both kind and smart, from a public relations standpoint, invited Laura and George Bush to the White House during their time back in D.C. for the wake. The Bushes approached The Trumps waited for the Bushes on the steps of the White House, until George was to the Donald's left and Laura was to Melania's right. As all four turned to enter the White House, Trump gestured to 43 to proceed to the door ahead of Trump. 43 then gestured back to the current POTUS (as protocol may dictate) to instead go ahead of him (43). Then then both walked in tandem.

And yes, for that nanosecond, I had respect for both of them, heaven help me and bless their little hearts and minds.

Thanks, as always, el, for an interesting time piece (See what I did there?) and have a great time on your trip. Until next time....

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enhydra lutris's picture

@HenryAWallace
That was a wonderful quote from the dumb-assed furriner, and stunningly correct and prescient. I love the way you made it a link instead of an embed, so that there is a surprise element to it, especially after the great intro you provided..

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris

me far too much credit. I ain't got much of that finesse thing.

I posted a link with the furriner's name in it. It was the posting gods who shortened the link, as is often their wont, and created the mystery.

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The guy robbed four banks before they caught him, his picture plastered everywhere. The paper did not mention proximity to the cop shop this time, skipping the Keystone aspect. Too busy posting NO Trespass signage for the move along crowd, probably. I'm pretty sure Travis never did have any kind of weapon, but keep on the lookout for those Black Mercedes though, ya never know about those people. heh

Robbery suspect attempts to hit second Cloverdale bank, apprehended

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, the Cloverdale Police Department responded to a bank alarm at the Exchange Bank on S. Cloverdale Boulevard. After the suspect left the bank, CPD officers located his car on the 200 block of S. Cloverdale Boulevard, and eventually apprehended Travis Strickland. Strickland, 37, is linked to the Nov. 16 robbery of the Cloverdale Chase Bank, as well as four other robberies.

According to a press release from the Cloverdale Police Department, Strickland “entered the bank and passed a note demanding money, disguising his appearance with a wig and a hat. After the suspect left the bank, Cloverdale officers located a black Mercedes driven by the suspect… and conducted a high-risk traffic stop.”

Strickland, a resident of Ukiah, was transported to the Sonoma County Detention Facility and booked with attempted robbery, robbery, burglary and an outstanding warrant for a misdemeanor out of Mendocino County. According to the press release, more charges are pending.

good job
---
Thanks for writing about solving the problem of plastic. New law orders big businesses to sort their trash or hire someone to do it for them

Hundreds of San Francisco businesses will have to sort their trash properly for recycling or else hire janitors to do it for them under legislation approved Tuesday.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation introduced by Supervisor Ahsha Safai that targets about 400 of San Francisco’s biggest producers of trash — hotels, restaurants, office buildings and large apartment buildings.

Reduce and Reuse
---
Lovin' In The Valley Of The Moon

peace

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enhydra lutris's picture

@eyo
It will not only help with the waste processing process, but will likely provide some employment for at least some of the currently unemployed. Have a great day.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

enhydra lutris's picture

Whilst loading and checking the car I noted the presence of our "carry-outs". After long annoyance at the various non-reusable and non-recyclable, "doggy bag" and/or "to go" containers, we got into the habit of carrying some washable and re-usable lidded durable containers in the car. Should we find ourselves going out for a meal, we carry them into the establishment in a suitable bag, and should we find ourselves not finishing out meal, we simply load up the rest. Should a waitperson beat us to it with the "do you need a box?" question, we reply that we brought our own. Should anybody comment on the fact or idea, we explain all of the havoc that the generally single-use containers otherwise used cause and how our procedure allows us to not be part of the problem.

An added benefit to this practice is that they can be used in stores that sell near term edible ready-made bulk comestibles by weight instead of whatever cartons and containers they provide. (We do need to add something appropriate for soup, which we find ourselves indulging in more and more these days.)

This little habit we've developed has become so automatic that I didn't even think to include it in my post above (partly because we eat out so rarely when not on the road.)

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris @enhydra lutris @enhydra lutris

passed food to visitors? "Don't be shy."

If I were a waiter or waitress, I would not be put off in the slightest if my customer said something to the effect of, "To put a little less stress on Mother Nature, we always bring our own containers. But we appreciate your thoughtfulness very much."

I live near a Starbuck's. When I used to drink their coffee, I bought by the pound, not the cup. At that time, they were giving a free cup with every purchase of a pound. One day, I saw a very young barista whispering to an older one. Forgetting my paranoia for once, probably due to my need for intravenous morning caffeine, I thoght nothing of it. But, yes, she was whispering about me.

As she looked toward me, I gave her a big smile ('cause that's the kind of simpleton I am). She turned to her co-worker and said, "See? I told you." I then put my two bags of coffee atop the counter, along with the little Starbucks shopping bag I'd brought with me so that it could carry the bags of coffee while I carried the cup of coffee.

Next, she said, "You always bring your own bag with you, don't you?" As paranoia was finally beginning to kick in, I nodded, wondering if perhaps her family manufactured Starbucks' bags and I was taking food off their table. However, she next flashed me a huge smile and exclaimed, "I LOVE that!" While this was going on her older co-worker had apparently been busy behind the counter for she plopped atop the counter a bag of the "and" part of coffee and.

Like a mook (but not like a Mook), I told her that I had not ordered anything. She quietly said, I know. It's because you bought two pound of coffee and you only wanted one cup. But Starbucks had no such offer; At most, my purchase had earned two cups of coffee.

Finally, as Massachusetts folk sometimes say, "Light dawned on marble head." The (unearned goodie was compensation for my always smiling and bringing my own bag. (I'd add perhaps for always tipping well, too, but I am far too modest to do that).

So, what I am trying to say, I guess, is that at least some wait staff will appreciate your kindness to Mother Earth. And it is a relatively short-winded, unoffensive way to evangelize.

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@enhydra lutris of bringing your own containers for leftovers. I really hate to use styrofoam for that and it is what is often offered.

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lotlizard's picture

with simultaneous translation of all the jovial and sentimental speeches into German.

Once again, an occasion to reflect on the “banality of evil” . . . blecch.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@lotlizard
decried the whole process of eulogizing such persons as he.
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/12/01/if-you-murdered-a-bunch-of-people-mass-murder-is-your-single-defining-legacy/

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@lotlizard
For Germany and the World. He was skilled at diplomacy and he did preside over the endgame of George Kennan's containment policy, and avoidance of hot war, that was put in place during the Truman administration. Trump would have blown that all up and Germany would still be split or a Russian colony.

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Beware the bullshit factories.

enhydra lutris's picture

@Timmethy2.0 provoked one and started one and is responsible for a ton of war crimes and mass murdes of civilians in the process.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris

provoked one and started one and is responsible for a ton of war crimes and mass murdes of civilians in the process.

Call it Deep State call it career public service but there were some pretty smart people who adopted George Kennan's very smart policy which H.W. was important in bringing to a successful conclusion.

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Beware the bullshit factories.

@lotlizard

the syrupy sweetness of all that praise for Bush family service to the country by mentioning 41's father's World War II activities and Poppy's very own Desert Storm on behalf of Kuwait, after giving Hussein the go ahead?

(First time breaking my rule never to post anything at all after someone dies, unless I can say something positive. Not sure why. Some people who did horrendous have died since I've been posting.)

Praising all office holders for their service is a relatively new thing and often misplaced, IMO. Being President, in particular, is eight years of living expense-free at a standard higher than that of the Sultan of Brunei while "earning" "comfortable" salary plus lots of other perks, during and after your Presidency, including Secret Service protection until you and your spouse are both dead. And your risk is that the Secret Service might not take a bullet for you or catch your wannabe assassin. It's not a small risk. However, no one's life is risk-free. Heck, cars drive right into stores and restaurants and hit people. On balance, I'd leap at the job if someone offered it, though I would never seek it.

Poppy served in WWII, which is one of very few wars that, IMO, needed to be fought. Now, that was service. Being pampered and praised for being President of the US or Governor of Florida? Not so much. And it's not as though they were drafted. They were desperate to win those elections. JMO

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magiamma's picture

et al. Thanks for the ot.

Great thread. I got so pissed off that I could not find what I wanted in a glass bottle at the health food store (locally owned, only one left) that I almost made quarter pagers to pass out to folks in front of the store. (Mary, one of the mainstays of the sc4b campaign made quarter pagers for all kinds of things. NPP - no party preference - was one of the most important ones. Housing, gotv on campus, you name it. They really worked. We explained the message to the canvassers and they to the voters.)

Plastic is lighter and does not break. No wonder businesses adopted it. Plastic containers and throw aways need to go away. far. away.

When I was in Berlin, I quickly discovered that they just don't use plastic. At the airport they give you ceramic plates for food. At one of the outdoor symphonies you had to pay a 2 euro deposit on your hard-plastic returnable glass, which they reused. They do not have plastic bags in the stores that I went into. Kids were required to learn to ride bikes. They closed down the center district on the weekend (maybe just one day) to cars. That was a while back. Impressive. It is so possible to do this. And interestingly the organic food was the cheapest because it cost less to produce.

I love your ideas of bringing your own carry out containers. Such a great idea. The health food store here will not let you use your own container for the food bar but you can use them for dry goods. Lots of great ideas. Thank you. Have a great one...

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enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma
an some of the ideas
have a really good night

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

guardian https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/dec/03/claps-and-cheers-appl...

Fortunately for Apple, someone had been hard at work fixing that bug. In 1984, a group of professors at Harvard Business School published a book, Managing Human Assets, aimed at updating workplace organization for a new era. The book was based on the first new compulsory course at the Harvard Business School in a generation, launched in 1981. Ron Johnson started his MBA at Harvard the next year, graduating as the book itself was released.

Previously, the book argued, labor discipline could be achieved in a relatively straightforward top-down manner, but now it required something else. “The limitations of hierarchy have forced a search for other mechanisms of social control,” the authors said. The mechanisms they proposed consisted, at root, of treating employees as nominal stakeholders in business success, but within narrow limits that would increase rather than challenge shareholder profitability.

Johnson put many of these ideas into practice. He found the first cohort of Apple store employees by personally interviewing every manager and offering jobs to upbeat staff working for competitors. He sent the first five managers through the Ritz-Carlton training program to learn concierge skills. Then he developed a training program for the in-house production of “geniuses”. (Jobs reportedly hated the term at first, finding it ridiculous. True to form, he asked his lawyers to apply for a trademark the following day.)
Does Apple's sales slump mean the firm has finally peaked?
Read more

How do you create an engaged, happy, knowledgable workforce that can pass, however implausibly, as an entire battalion of geniuses in towns across the country? More importantly, how do you do all of that without the stick of the authoritarian boss or the carrot of a juicy commission?

Apple’s solution was to foster a sense of commitment to a higher calling while flattering employees that they were the chosen few to represent it. By counterintuitively raising the bar of admission, crafting a long series of interviews to weed out the mercenary or misanthropic, Johnson soon attracted more applicants than there were posts. Those keen enough to go through the onerous hiring process were almost by definition a better “fit” for the devotional ethos of the brand, far more receptive to the fiction that they weren’t selling things but, in an oft-repeated phrase, “enriching people’s lives”, as if they’d landed a job at a charity.

“When people are hired,” Johnson explained, “they feel honored to be on the team, and the team respects them from day one because they’ve made it through the gauntlet. That’s very different from trying to find somebody at the lowest cost who’s available on Saturdays from 8 to 12.”

While not the lowest, the cost of these eager staff was still low – relative to industry averages, to the amount they made for the company, and to the $400m that Johnson earned in his seven years at Apple.
Apple's value dips below $1tn amid fears of iPhone sales peak
Read more

Lower wages also had another, less obvious effect. As Apple store managers explained to the New York Times, the lack of commissions meant that the job didn’t pay well enough to support those with dependents: older workers were functionally excluded from representing the brand without the need for a formal policy – or the attendant specter of discrimination lawsuits that it would raise. Deploying psychology, not the maximizing calculus of economic rationality (money), allowed Apple to turn hiring and wages into managerial props.

The sense of higher calling and flattery doesn’t stop with the hiring process, of course. Make it through the gauntlet and you are “clapped in” by existing workers: given a standing ovation as if receiving a prize. The clapping, according to employees, continues until new hires, perhaps after a confused delay, begin clapping too, graduating from outside spectator to part of the performance – part of the team. Leave the company and you’re “clapped out”.

Products are clapped, customers waiting overnight to buy them are clapped, their purchases are clapped, claps are clapped. Clap, clap, clap. “My hands would sting from all the clapping,” said one manager. Claps, cheers, performances of rapturous engagement provided, by design, a ready-mixed social glue to bind teams together, reaffirming both the character of the brand and employees’ cultish devotion to it.

It might be expected that Apple store employees are, as their name implies, tech gurus with incredible intellects. But their true role has always been to use emotional guile to sell products.

The Genius Training Student Workbook is the vaguely comical title of the manual from which Apple store employees learn their art. Prospective geniuses are taught to use empathetic communication to control customer experience and defuse tension, aiming to make them happy and relax their purse strings.

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Wink's picture

I came across a similar vid of hers on FB, but sadly couldn't find it.
This is close enough... too funny, but dead nuts...

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the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't! - @thanatokephaloides. On Twitter @wink1radio. (-1.9) All about building progressive media.