Intro -- Jim Campbell LO2708 -- & Re: Anonymity

Jim Campbell (
Fri, 08 Sep 1995 06:48:16 -0600

Replying to LO2689 --

I sent a side-note to a member of this thoughtful group a couple of weeks
ago and misspelled a word. I have noticed that often spelling mistakes
occur in notes and it has reminded me of one of the very attractive
qualities I have discovered in being a member of the
Learning-Organization. My intent was to use the word "skulking" as in
skulking around the edges in referring to my re-emergence as a member of
this group after being down-sized, right-sized, budgetized and otherwise
delivered in March. I am currently gathering together a consulting
business in Human Resource Consulting, Organizational and group Leadership
and Human Relations. The word I used instead of "skulking" was "skulling,
skulling around the edges". When this was pointed out it came with a
comment on how nice the slight shift in meaning actually contributed to
the overall meaning of what I was trying to say. New meanings out of

One of the key pleasures I have found in being a member of LO has been
that this is principally an unedited dialogue medium. We communicate
making minor corrections i.e. spelling and grammar as we can and flash our
thoughts out to the group. I have been able to see more of the person in
these notes and the thought processes than in any other type of
communication. Perhaps this is because I get to focus on a smaller set of
responses and therefore see more clearly (without out the clutter of
physical presence).

I have also learned a little more about putting thoughts together in a
fairly quick, stream of thought process. There have been times in the past
when I wondered whether what was sent out really made any sense. I thank
all of you who participate here for showing so much of yourselves. It has
led me to ponder and comment often to others on the practice of editing
and sanitizing any communications. By the time a published document,
letter, Ad, proposal, etc. of import is released the punch and personality
has often been edited out and the bright ideas are no longer so bright.
Spontaneity and creativity especially in these changing times are the
energies that push us forward. I feel and stress feel, that the
LO/internet connection for dialogue offers a medium for open creative,
energetic responses that the working world in it's drive for correctness
has often sanitized and edited out the energies of passion and excitement.

This brings me to a contribution to the discussion on "Anonymity in

I have followed this thread for the past month and find it a very
stimulating discussion. Three issues seem to come through to my mind as I

Thinking - Development Processes
Combining Past-Present-Future Reference Points.

I agree with Rick Karash (LO2689), "in the ideal world, we wouldn't need
anonymity", but cultural/environmental/systemic influences abound and not
everyone has an equal opportunity to SAY. Ed Schein talks about the
invisible culture in organizations the unwritten rules of order, my mother
even used to comment on these in her perennial comment, "We don't talk
like that"(actually we often did). Here we are faced with the skewed
distributions of contributions. In any organization the greater "right"
to SAY is relative to the granted authority of the given position. I
don't mean this in any positive or negative way, just a factor of the way
we live together. Also, in most organizations there appears to be a
normal distribution of beliefs and values(those that are average in the
community). My own experience, research and conversations with many people
from many different organizations has always led me to observe that those
I meet are nearly normal working people(average in beliefs as a group).

In organizations where not everyone is valued in the same way for their
thoughts and ideas , there is a re-valuation of contribution skewing the
distribution of beliefs and values to those who have more SAY. Draw a
nice bell curve - normal distribution and now skew it to the left or right
and watch what happens to the average distribution and who has more SAY.
If you overlap the normal and the skewed distributions the area between
the skewed and the normal curve can represent those beliefs and values
that are left out of the reality base and thus other than normal decisions
are made. I am not placing good or bad on this observation only a point
on how a part of potentially contributing ideas are lost to the system.
The presence of the idea does not guarantee its usage but does expose
others to a fuller range.

Organizations are all full of competitive energies and skewing from
competitive pushes is always present. This pressure/influence makes some
more expressed than others, discounting the rest. This alone is a good
reason for an "anonymous comments" process. As an initiator the process
can allow voice and practice in expression of ideas that are often pushed
aside or silenced from the start. Non-leveled communication allows a
broader opportunity for all to learn how to participate in systems

Thinking-Development and Past-Present-Future idea incorporation are most
successful when the broadest base of communication is encouraged. In an
Ideal world one of the key activites in organizations will be more time
spent in learning how to develop thinking skills and processes in
everyone. "Anonymous" contributions can act as an initiating activity
providing the first step toward team/system functioning "Invitation and
Permission to Act".

Jim Campbell                                  e-mail:
Access Internet - via the University of Lethbridge
190 Oxford Rd. West          Phone & Fax:   (403) 381 3774
Lethbridge, Alberta     Myers-Briggs Type:  ENTP
Canada  T1K 4V4  

"Life-learning: creating new forms, not diminishing the possibilities"