Every now and then, a foolish notion takes such a firm grip on the public consciousness that no amount of hard evidence to the contrary can persuade its believers to put aside their convictions and embrace what is frequently an unpalatable or less interesting truth. Some such notions emanate from the ‘supernatural’ school and demand high levels of blind faith from their adherents. The absence of anything remotely evidential in the stories that surround faith-based urban myths presents no problem to their originators who, through their powers of persuasion and the vulnerabilities of their audience, succeed in recruiting armies of supporters to their cause. The uneventful passing once more of Harold Camping’s revised deadline for the end of the world on 21st October is unlikely to persuade his followers that The End Times is a put-up job any more than readers of horoscopes will cancel their subscriptions just because none of the foretold events actually happen. Faith like bindweed once established, is tough to kill.

Some urban myths are lightweight confections whipped up by pranksters seeking nothing more than the inner satisfaction of knowing that they have duped the gullible. The recent Kidney Heist Hoax is a masterpiece of the genre. In its frequent beery re-telling the narrative gathers both mass and momentum like a snowball rolling down a ski slope. Each storyteller attaches his or her own embellishments and invigorates the story by making it their own; or at least “a friend of friend’s”. These myths derive their currency from the frequency with which they are told and the conviction of the teller, no matter how implausible the story itself may be. It would seem that for many, a myth repeated often enough will assume the authority of truth.

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We’ve just added a downloadable version of this recent Changeboard article by Robert Terry to our Elsewhere page: alternatively you can download the PDF here.

As Robert says:

All in all, the months ahead look challenging. Particularly as many of us work in the very ‘back-office’ that is the focus of much cost-cutting activity: if we are to play our part – as is expected – in protecting front-line services, we will need to work intelligently to identify the savings that can be made without damaging them.”

To find out more about what may yet be in store, read the full article.

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Why, when everybody knows that leadership and management development (LMD) is unlikely to produce measurable improvement in workplace performance, do CEOs spend more than $40bn pa on it?

Robert Terry argues that there are five conspirators in The Great Leadership and Management Development Conspiracy – participants, training providers, training buyers, line managers, and organisations – each providing mute endorsement for the others. And each serving to perpetuate an untenable squandering of scarce organisational resources.

Download the full article here – and let us have your comments.

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We’re proud to have supplied the first guest article at the weknowmore.org blog – and similarly proud of their favourable opinion of our contribution. We’ve published a synopsis – which, like the parent article, explores the conundrums in defining human value in organisations – below, but you can read the full article online at their website.

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Through the centuries, mankind has been oddly obsessed with its own nature and with reviewing, reflecting on, analysing and debating what we call ‘the human condition’. Such is the complexity of our experience that we struggle even to define it, embracing as it does biology, theology and religion, geography, philosophy, sociology and an academy of other disciplines. Progress – another word whose meaning we could (and do) debate – may have impacted on human life to the extent that some of our eternal struggles are easier to address for the more fortunate of us. Yet the human condition remains – if not always acute – what we might describe as chronic. Indeed those very words echo from one online forum written in the wake of the New Orleans hurricane:

Also, I think it is stories of struggles like Tootie’s in a place like New Orleans that teach us not of how separate we are in our various experiences with pain, but how alike we are in our expressions of it. There are great moments when we are reminded that the human condition is chronic.”

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This is cheeky – a response to a post on another (excellent) blog. Actually one I’ve linked to before, so its ability to stay in my thoughts obviously recommends it: it’s provoked several thoughts, which definitely counts as ‘doing it’s job’. Which, ironically, is what it made me think about. So, which post? – 10 Tenets for the New HR at KnowHR.com. It’s provoked numerous comments already, but I’m going to humbly offer another contender for Tenet 11. (And in the spirit of the original, we’ll finish with a song.)

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The perplexing myth somehow persists that ‘work’ is something that happens in one corner and ‘learning’ happens in the other – like two boxers who never actually engage. Yet getting learning and work to embrace each other should surely be seen as critical? Would you vote for comparative ignorance as a strategy for success in the most challenging year in decades?

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