Re: Incentives LO1329

Michael McMaster (
Sat, 20 May 1995 08:52:53 +0000

Replying to LO1316 --

David, assuming we are talking about people at work, then I have yet
to see the people "with their stomach's growling". What's
"growling", in my experience, is the soul (and I didn't think I was going
to use the word in this list) or the being - er even just the
intelligence. What's "whimpering" is the psyche which doesn't have a
safe enough place to learn - or even feel good about being at work.

What Maslow might have to say about our concerns for organisational
learning is, "Don't take my heirarchy and try and give everybody what
they want. Take the insight and realise that the whole human being
is to be nurtured. And the pathway to provide that nurturing is
through providing an environment consistent with the presence of all
of the levels all of the time - including an understanding of an
individual as a self-responsible being." (Remember, Maslow was
talking about possibility and realisation - not about pathology. He
had very little to say about what to do when the system is sick.)

I also want to express my concern for the frequent righteousness in
the organisational learning field. (This is not directed at Dave, its
related to the above.) That is, the frequent comments that imply
that there is one right environment for learning, one right way of
learning or teaching - and that the speakers knows that way. I
frequently encounter people who _know_ that a certain way is bad or
that a it "should be" a particular way. Being lectured to _is_ a way
of learning that at some times, for some people, etc, etc works.
And an open space meeting is _another_ way of learning where
different intentions, circumstances, people, etc, etc are involved.

The problem with providing a neat representation (like the hierarchy
of needs) is that the reading, thinking and engaging with the
originators thinking disappears and we're left with a simplistic form
that doesn't represent the originator - Maslow in this case. The
form is an aid or tool, not a summary of the thinking.

David says:
> However, don't preach to me when my belly is aching cause I don't listen
> good except to the growls and gurgles and wonder when the hell the speaker
> is going to shut up and I get to eat. Have you heard Lyle Lovett's great
> song, "Church" on his Joshua Judges Ruth album? Great song about the
> preacher preaching when the congregation is "mighty hungry" and is ready
> for good corn bread.

I just want to take Lyle Lovett's words beyond their literal sense.
If it's hunger of the belly, give the food first. If it's social
hunger or intellectual hunger or spiritual hunger - feed that. In
the challenge of ending hunger, however, it's useful to distinguish
between famine and chronic starvation. If it's famine - give food.
If it's chronic starvation - give food _and_ begin to provide the
education, development, capital goods, etc so that the condition
which is the source of the current condition does not persist.

I take Lyle's words to mean - speak to the listening. That is,
nothing is worth saying that can't or won't be heard. Don't talk
when I need action, don't act when I need talk, don't talk when I
need listening. The challenge is to be able to do that while
expressing your own life on this planet.

> So if we don't throw Maslow away, and I agree we shouldn't, where do we go
> with him?

Where we go is where our hearts and minds lead. Or Allaire of Xerox
said, "We have to realise that were making it up as we go along."

Michael McMaster <>