Mood Weather

image: UK Met Office

It’s Spring, and I’ve moved to my summer routines – up early, to get a share of the day before everybody else starts using it. I love the light, and the smells, and everything waking up.

I listen to the news once, starting with “Farming Today” at 05:45 and on to the “Today” programme, over a mug of tea appreciating the morning. Increasingly, I’m listening for patterns as much as detail to see what the “mood weather” is doing.

This morning was interesting. As I tried to find one or two words that linked what I was hearing, I couldn’t get rid of “Intensity” and “Pressure”. Here’s a snapshot of what I heard:

  • Farmers struggling to cope with the demand for use of green space, both for holidays and day to day access to land by those who have more opportunity to access it as they adapt to Brexit and regenerative farming.
  • Holidays under pressure with a 35% increase in prices due to “staycation” demand.
  • the Institute of customer service wanting to make being rude to customer service agents a criminal offence.
  • A Bank representative using the term “colleagues” in a way that she really wasn’t comfortable with. She made it sound like a third party expression. Understandable perhaps when you are doing things to them you don’t really want to,
  • The collapse of Greensill, a supplier of “supply chain financing” to the steel sector, because their bad debt insurance was cancelled. The knock on effect is the likely collapse of much of the UK steel sector putting 35,000 jobs at risk. The numbers and absolute fragility of the system is staggering.
  • Unilever saying that “normal” is no longer part of it’s vocabulary. That will be a challenge perhaps for their statisticians…

This begins to feel like a “mood weather” front. Increasing pressure over a wide area that will be followed inevitably by low pressure with storms where they meet.

At a time when we talk easily about mindfulness, and reflection, and “colleagues” and “sustainability” our actions betray us. We are continuing to exert pressure on a system that is exhausted. We are not learning the clear lessons of Covid, or last year’s fires, or the financial crisis now twelve years ago.

In Sand Talk Tyson Yunkaporta talks about the principles of those who had close connection with their surroundings we have long mislaid in the West. They are connection, interaction, diversity and adaptation. Dancing with change, not hubristically trying to “manage” it. There’s also an article I enjoyed reflecting the same qualities to be found here. It’s a provocative read.

We have mislaid, but not lost our ability to connect. We need to find it, individually and collectively whilst we can. Not just to each other, but to where we live and how we live.

It’s not an option to do later. We are not in charge. We have to interact, diversify our ways of understanding our surroundings and adapt.

Organisations will find it hard – they are always behind the curve, clinging on to what used to work. In “Maps of Meaning” Jordan Peterson talks about our relationship with science in these terms. I suggest it applies equally to our scientific approach to business.

So, science has progressed, but any model becomes a cage, for if one comes across phenomena that are difficult to explain, then instead of being adaptable and saying the phenomena do not belong to the model and that a new hypothesis must be found, one clings to one’s hypotheses with a kind of emotional conviction, and cannot be objective.

Maps of Meaning. Jordan Peterson. p 404

We have to build new knowledge for a new era, and Piaget expresses what is needed rather well:

Knowledge does not begin in the “I”, and it does not begin in the object. It begins in the interactions…then there is a reciprocal and simultaneous construction of the subject on the one hand, and the object on the other hand”

Jean Piaget.

We don’t have to wait for our organisations to change, and we do not need their permission.

We need to change the mood. For all our sakes.

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