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Evolución Consultoría en Comunicación Pedagógica

Evolución Consultoría en Comunicación Pedagógica

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Evolución Consultoría en Comunicación PedagógicaBUILDING BRIDGES

On How Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference, by Laura Bertone



It was just by chance that right before leaving the States a few weeks ago, after the Las Vegas General Semantics Conference, I came across a book entitled "The Tipping Point' by Malcom Gladwell (Little, Brown and Company). Some of the ideas in it proved useful for the presentation of the book I wrote with French crisis management expert Patrick Lagadec, that has just come out here in Spanish:"Voyage to the heart of an implosion. What is there to learn from the Argentine experience?" (Paris: Eyrolles, 2003)

I bring this up here because I feel that some of these ideas apply for the teaching and spreading of Generals Semantics as well.

In a nutshell, the general idea consists in this: little things can - or may - produce big changes.
This is the unavowed conviction that sustained both Patrick and me when we decided to carry out a series of meetings, in April 2003 in Buenos Aires, to trigger exchanges among Argentine intellectuals and thinkers first; then among company executives, officials and university postgrade students; then with the military and, last but not least, with artists. Seen from abroad - and even from inside - this may seem ridiculously insignificant. And yet… in the midst of the worst crisis ever in already crisis-stricken Argentina, it proved not easy to succeed in arranging for these people to meet… We managed to do this only partially; we never succeeded in having them all come together at one and the same meeting.

Aware of the modesty of our means, and of the modesty of possible results, we decided to persist and go on. This must surely have been easier for me (as Argentine-born) than for our French expert Patrick, who was more used to European or Northen patterns of efficiency, acknowledgement and respect than I was.

One of the first observations after the series of encounters in April was the disproportion encountered between the levels of energy and efforts involved and the scarcity of concrete results (no follow-up meetings announced, no committees set up, no official acknowledgment or private support). It was at this point that I started remembering one of Korzybski's axioms handed down by subsequent IGS staff members, which goes (as insistently and concisely conveyed by Bob Pula's insistent and concise formula): "Minimum Expectations, Maximum Motivation". I realised that I had made it mine.

Then surprise struck: as soon as Patrick returned to Paris, he invited me to write a "joint debriefing" of what we had done, felt, thought and learned throughout those two weeks of meetings. Surprise then struck again: only two weeks later and with a text of only 50 pages at that point, our initial "academic" project turned into a book contract with a well-known French publishing house. We immediately decided to have it published in Argentina as well.

If the book was meant simply as a testimony for Europeans (and a possible warning of what to avoid) for Argentines, it becomes an invitation as well: an invitation to act and produce small changes (with the only certainty that there is no certainty that the scales will, at some point, tip).

This is the basic idea and positive tone in Malcolm Gladwell's book which helped me reformulate Patrick's and my purpose. Through examples that seem at first sight to have little relation to our General Semantic perspective and formulations, Gladwell reminds us, through his cases examples taken from management, politics and educational televisión, that very small changes can make a big difference. Is that very different from the "piecemeal approach" that Milton Dawes has for so long fostered?

As probably many other people in the World, especially when very young, I had dreamt of heroes and heroines capable of great deeds, as in previous epic times. The paradox in today's world seems to be that a tremendous amount of courage and will is needed for the "man and woman in the street" to face those everyday challenges which do not involve epic-like events (where there is no tournament to win or kingdom to conquest; where everything appears ridiculously unimportant and insignificant). Given this, the conviction that small things can make big differences has been crucial to me since it provides fuel to my motivational tank.

When we describe General Semantics formulations, or do the exercises to clean up the ways and means of our language use, it helps, in my opinion, to remember this. If we accept any challenge, moving along wiht small steps without knowing for sure what the result will be, and if we lower our expectations and increase our personal motivation, we will manage to work hard, feel joy and share it! And sharing the sheer joy of work done without expecting any rewards can be important - and helpful in convincing others that it pays to experiment with small changes within oneself.
 

 

Evolución Consultoría en Comunicación Pedagógica

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Evolución Consultoría en Comunicación Pedagógica

 

 

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