Parenting teenagers (also applies to managing staff, BTW)

“… why [do] adolescents take risks, seek novelty, and bond so passionately with their peers[?] It’s all adaptive behavior even if we sometimes view it as quite the opposite. I walked away with a renewed admiration for the teenaged brain…”

Teacher Tom: In The Bushes

Don’t forget to also read his link to this clear and readable science piece on the brains of teenagers:

It’s all adaptive behaviour….


If all the behaviour of your staff is adaptive, what might that tell you?

Stroke that chin, dear reader…

Women and apes, savage animals and smartphones and extinction

This is not really a finished thing, more a series of jottings.

Playwork and primates
AFAIK, only Penny Wilson and myself have looked at primates for clues about the practice of playwork (as opposed to what it tells us about play). Penny has a glorious interview with a zookeeper at Howletts in Kent, about the gorillas she cares for.

“At one point, Laura is called away by a fellow keeper because one of the gorillas appears to have his head stuck in the bars…
She comes back to the phone…’sorry about that.. He was joking’,
Penny ‘The keeper?’
Laura ‘No the gorilla’.”

And she got to do a TED, curses. It was only a TEDx though.

The science behind play
Here’s some cool stuff about play, including
Isabel Behncke’s TED Talk about the glorious bonobo:

Women and primates
There seems to be a thing about overexcited women and bonobos. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge bonobo fan, but if you think Isobel is overexcited, you need to check out the bonkers sex therapist  who makes Isabel look like a newsreader lady announcing the death of Princess Diana:

(Not disapproving BTW, I’m a big fan, but she is on the bonkers end of the quirk continuum)

Not to mention Diane Fosse. Theory: women zoologists love primates because they are tameable beasts, unlike men.

Male zoologists like Lionel Tiger and Robin Fox —not made up names, googlem— adore their savage namesakes. (Yes, this includes the robin, vicious little territorial bastard).

A lesson that I wish were valid
But I want to strangle Isabel when she says that bonobos hold the key to human survival, because they are about to go extinct, courtesy of humans.

Confined to a u-bend in the Congo river in the DRC, therefore a deme, their lifestyle depends on an abundant supply of highly nutritious food. A bit like UK hippies before the 1974 OPEC oil crisis. Their extinction is due to the conflicts in the DRC: bushmeat for rebel forces in a conflict over territory and therefore mineral rights, fuelled by the global demand for Coltan for smartphones.

(If you don’t recycle your mobile, you are part of the problem. Whenever I see Jason Borne or any bad guy in any thriller or cop show, lob a ‘burner’ mobile into a litter bin I think of dead bonobos. The primate equivalent of those dead fairies piling up at the bottom of a politician’s garden.)

Told you it was unfinished. There’s a lot more to be said about applications to management and child development. Later perhaps…

So, playful chimpanzees,

Knob gags: mirror neurons and social learning #47 in the insights for managers series

An apology
This isn’t intended to be broad or authoritative. The writing is a bit rough and ready. There are holes in it. It’s a bit (first) drafty.
Why have i written this?
Study of social primates• can provide insights into human behaviour which may be of relevance to managers. (•aren’t all primates social? Must check)
What causes trolling! What maintains it?
Trolling and flaming is fascinating. It reminds me of a thing that has emerged in comedy clubs.
The science bit
There is a monkey see monkey do thing in primates. Humans are primates. Mirror neurons provide a social learning mechanism which has survival value for a species.
Applying it to a human phenomenon: heckling
In non survival situations, like a night out, it becomes toxic. Fairly stupid bloke observe heckling in comedy clubs. Fairly stupid bloke ‘learn’ that thing to do is heckle and that this ‘helps: the comic. Ugg shout heckle. Yet the comics hate it, and the vast majority of the audience, apart from his mates on the stag night, hate it.
The victim speaks
Stewart Lee has described in his book how he found it impossible to do material that had anything in it other than crude reinforcement of stereotypes and knob gags. (Knob gags* could be fitted to any knob who heckles). He now refuses to do those venues, which is why you wonder what happened to him or why you haven’t heard of him.
Applying this to the world of work
If I were writing a book which would, in part or in whole, be about ‘consensual communication’ (a term that I believe I have coined, so hands off), it would take the above exposition and apply it to a management context.
A book
I am writing such a book, a successor to my lost cult classic, Navigating Complexity.
An appeal
I appeal to you dear readers, for further examples, and please, examples of contexts at work, in which you have observed the toxic effects of mirror neurons and social learning.

Triggered in part by Tom Hitchman, aimed at an audience which contains Tom and Ben Taylor and Rory Heap amongst others.

                                                 *and there is my punning title

Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence – HBR

Good title. Good final quote: Einstein famously said: ““I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

The middle of the article seems to have been written by a sixth former and not edited.

HBR articles these days are beginning to look more and more like clickbait.. Grr.

“There seems to be wide support for the idea that we are living in an “age of complexity”, which implies that the world has never been more intricate.”

It does no such thing.

“This idea is based on the rapid pace of technological changes, and the vast amount of information that we are generating (the two are related). ”

Oh,  really?

HBR articles,  these days,  are beginning to look more and more like clickbait. Shame. Once were giants…

You can’t play 20 questions with nature and win « Mind Hacks

“That the same human subject can adopt many (radically different) methods for the same basic task, depending on goal, background knowledge, and minor details of payoff structure and task texture implies that the “normal” means of science may not suffice.”

Another perspective on the failure of normal science.

(Sorry, climate change deniers, antivaxxers, intelligent designers [now there’s an aurochsy-moron] and your ilk, that doesn’t mean I agree with you that science is wrong; all that’s being said here is that the current approach to some huge problems isn’t working.)

“…In Allen Newell‘s 1973 paper, a classic in cognitive science … he confesses that although he sees many excellent psychology experiments, all making undeniable scientific contributions, he can’t imagine them cohering into progress for the field as a whole”, writes Tom Stafford.

My immediate thought was to jump to a comparison with management theory and its interventions: improve performance, improve engagement, better customer service, data gathering: the twenty questions of management consultancy.