25 March 2009

Speaking in a different voice

"From time to time in the execution of Project Phoenix", said the email, "it's necessary for the Planning and Administration Department to form an definitive view"

Well, now, I work on Project Phoenix, and I can confirm entirely without equivocation that, from time time, it is indeed necessary for the Planning and Administration Dept to form a definitive view. Oh yes indeedy: it most certainly is.

So, I unplugged my mp3, shut down my browser and paid attention.
"Accordingly, the purpose of this email is to confirm that within the context of Project Phoenix George Dylan will act, when needed, as the official voice of PAD"

Naturally I picked up the phone and called George directly. "Congratulations, George, and all that... and I have a question:  How will we know, George, on any particular occasion, whether you are speaking with your official voice, or whether you are just making up as you go along like you normally do?"

Mind, I wasn't being flippant, for the official voice is a very subtle and important concept.

Here is Oswald Bates on this very subject, as he confronts his corporate nemesis...

(The relevant bit for this post from 2:30 to 2:50, but trust me: if you watch the whole 5 minutes you won't regret it)
(From Stephen Polliakoff's timeless and extraordinary drama Shooting the Past)

And here is Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) who can recognise the 'voice' when he hears it.

You see: very often in the corporate world it is exactly the case that for the truth to heard it must be spoken in the right voice, at the right time, and by the right person. Get it right and you're a guru, a truthsayer, a seer and a leader of men.  But time it wrong, phrase it wrong, use the wrong voice and you're a trouble maker.  Oswald is a trouble maker - an entirely correct trouble maker - who knows he is right and even knows about the 'voice' but yet he doesn't have it.

Neither does poor George

"Don't be silly, Alibert" he told me, "are you expecting me to speak more deeply? Ha Ha, no, of course not, you'll know because of WHAT I am saying, not the manner in which I say it".

Of course we will, George.


Over in Brussels this week an obscure MEP called Daniel Hannan in a quite brilliant three minute speech absolutely speared Gordon Brown who I don't think has experienced anyone speaking to him like this for years.

This video went viral and was the most-watched video on YouTube on Wednesday..

It isn't even anything new: we've heard it before and we all know it to be true,  but this is first time we have heard it said in a the right voice..

Who thought oratory was dead?


M4GD said...

Welcome back! Agree with you. But are we really listening or hearing? I guess it depends on where we are on Maslow’s pyramid of the hierarchy of needs. The average joe surely will not be engaged in a long journey searching for the truth in a politician/leader’s message. He needs to know when is the next pay check coming and how can he pay his mortgage? The higher we are on the pyramid, the more likely we are to be searching for the truth. So, we listen to those who speak with a different voice. Hoping that they are the towering inspirational leadership we have been waiting for. And this is the moment when truly substance does it time and again and wins over form. Think the beautiful King’s “I have a dream…” speech! One realizes that the truth shines, lives, lasts but sometimes we find it in the gray. It is not necessarily black or white. And to truly find it we need patience, lots of it and to remember we are mere mortals. Well, unless you think you have super powers because you woke up one morning saying: “I hear voices and can see dead people.” That’s something entirely different and I can’t help you there:-)

On a lighter note, I read somewhere that women fall in love with their ears and men with their eyes! So, do you think Hannan will get more female voters? Or is this how it worked between Bruni and Sarkozi?;-)
Je suis une femme and I say: Behold the power of the voice!:-)

Botogol said...

hmm - how does that pyramid work then - can you be mostly on level three, but without actually having all the things on level 2 yet? Or does that mean you are on level 1?

(be careful to answer in the correct voice, so that I beleive you)

M4GD said...

GREAT QUESTION! LOVE IT! See the answer below and listen to the correct voice between the lines;-)
Well, according to Malsow’s theory, which assumes we are creatures motivated by our needs, you can’t move to a higher level unless you have completely satisfied the needs of the prior level. So, technically you can’t be at the highest level 5 (self-actualization) unless you have sequentially satisfied all prior 4 levels. And if you have managed to get to be at level 5 and something happened and your needs were no longer FULLY satisfied at the lower levels, then you go down! Simple!
I personally disagree with Maslow on the going down point. I say it’s probable for some to still maintain the higher level existence achieved despite disequilibrium in the lower levels’ needs. What makes it probable is how they got to the higher level in the first place! What was their focus? Was it form or substance? Those who have substance nothing can shake’em. They can maintain a level 5 existence even when they get a curve ball and are barley meeting level 1’s needs. Those who focus ONLY on form, crumble with the slightest pressure when their lower levels’ needs are not met and go down!
And that’s my answer and I’m sticking to it! This is the moment when we hear Dogbert the CEO saying: huh? What? Who turned off the lights:-)

MysteryShopper said...

Where did you disappear to?

Botogol said...

@MS - a technical glitch (oops). Help desk now sutably chastened

@M4GD - so, level 1, then.

M4GD said...

Really level 1? You really really really sure? I thought Botogol translated to mean Rockefeller! Well, may be I’ll see you at the Coffee House there then as I spent and spend time lounging there myself:-) Soooo, the site is back up again. I thought it was your exit strategy to finally kick out those commenters squatters people (we won’t mention names here like M4GD) who tend to forget it is just a comment and not an essay:-) Happy Tuesday!

Botogol said...

I reckon I can score level 1 and level 3 - but level 2? 4 or 5 / 7 at best

i am going by la wik

Olivia said...

Ha h'm (Hesitant cough) (Small hand wave) Cooooo'eeeee.

Can anyone join in or is this a duet?

I am so not in love with my ears btw, lovely as they undoubtedly are.

Botogol said...

@olivia: welcome back. not a duet a symphony for multiple voices.

or is that schizoprenia? I forget.

M4GD said...

Oh Botogol…You say 1, I say 5:-) At the end it does not matter. I guess what counts is whatever makes you happy!
Let’s take it back to the original title of your post. Setting my Rockefeller jokingly-said comment aside, and assuming you used ’the voice of truth’ and not ‘the voice of pure humor’ when you said Level 1, I have every evidence to believe that you are a Level 5! You are an evolved self Mr. Botogol!
The pyramid link you have is fine. I like to stick to the original Maslow’s 5-stage pyramid. Others added more levels up to 8. I guess to expand more on leadership and organizational behavioural change concepts and give them something more to talk about!

After Maslow, there was another school of thought on Self-evolvement that was developed by Dr. Robert Kegan in 1982. Are you familiar with his work on the ‘Evolving-Self’ and ‘How the way we talk can change the way we work?’? If not you may enjoy it. Here is a sample interview with him:

Also, away from the vocies, if you haven’t already read ‘Stumbling on Happiness’ by Daniel Gilbert, I highly recommend it. It was a great fun to read. It diffused some misconceptions about what makes us happy ranging from Can we be happy in the face of adversity and misfortune to the strange end of Casablanca the movie. Below is a 22-minute clip by Gilbert on the topic!