Rethinking the future with some exciting synergies

Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan, The Three Laws of Economic Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life.

The approach to leadership and community development that is spelled out in this slim volume is one of the more durable products of the consciousness-raising movement of the 1960s which had its epicentre in Southern California. In 1971 Werner Erhard provided the starting point with est, Erhard Seminars Training. That morphed into The Forum during the 1980s and in the 1990s Landmark Education took over the ideas and developed a suite of courses and programs that are now available in many countries around the world, including Australia and New Zealand. An offshoot of Landmark Education is the Vanto Group which provides a full range of consultancy services in human and organizational development. Closely linked is the Barbados Group, a self-selected group of high powered researchers and consultants, many of them connected with Landmark.

In this book the authors provide an accessible account based on the accumulated experience and insights of the Barbados group, Landmark and its forerunners and affiliates. Steve Zaffron “Zen Master in a business suit” has a long association with Werner Erhard, Landmark and Zanto. His younger colleague, Dave Logan, “Dr. Phil to the Fortune 500”, took a more academic path and now divides his time between the School of Business at the University of Southern California and consulting in education and cultural exchange.

The three parts of the book can be read in any order. The first part shows how the three laws are applied at the organizational level, using case studies of a range of industries on several continents; the second applies the three laws to leadership at any level in an organization; the third has a more individual focus on leadership and personal development.

The laws are:

1. How people perform correlates to how situations occur to them. The corollary is “Leaders have a say, and give others a say, in how situations occur”.

2. How situations occur arises in language. The corollary is “Leaders master the conversational environment”.

3. Future based language transforms how situations occur to people. The corollary is “Leaders listen for the future of their organization”.

The laws show the influence of the “linguistic turn” of modern philosophy and a pervasive theme is the way our perceptions of reality and our expectations of the future, and the way other people perceive us, are structured by our use of language. The point is to use language in different ways to obtain different results. The authors make a break from traditional and conventional uses of language with some distinctive innovations, especially the idea of occurrence, that is how the world and the future occurs to us.

It has been a very exhilarating experience to take two short Landmark courses and to read this book in between. The courses provide an intricate blend of theory and practice, so you really need to be there. (Try to explain the experience of taking a sharp return catch from a perfectly flighted offspinner).

It is exciting to see the synergy of the Popperian themes (especially the theme of non dogmatism versus rigid thinking) and the practices and reflexes that are developed in the courses.

And there is more! The Landmark courses are not about selling, motivation or even self-improvement. They are about making the world work better. Here we find synergy with the Australian School of Economics and the Classical Liberal Agenda.

And so my “listening” for the future is a world of increased peace, freedom and prosperity, based on the synergy of Karl Popper’s critical rationalism, classical/Austrian economics, the classical liberal agenda and Landmark Education!

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10 Responses to Rethinking the future with some exciting synergies

  1. ChrisPer

    I create the possibility of being first!

  2. Forever the optimist, Rafe. Unfortunately most true leaders reside in business or other productive organisations rather than the ones that control the direction of our country, which is full of little despots and social engineering nazis who couldn’t give a rats about our common future.

  3. Yohan

    The landmark forum and advanced course were life changing events for me. The thing I like most about Landmark, is it just give tools and insight into what is blocking/stopping you from achieving what you want. It does not then tell you what is the truth and how it should be. It is the opposite of dogmatic and ideological.

  4. ChrisPer

    I completely agree on the value of Landmark work with self-blocking behavior and thinking, but I had a gutful of the cultish leader behaviours. By electing not to participate in the evangelical sales parts, I think I built resistance to the good parts too. Just blew off the Advanced cource I paid a deposit for, because tired on FIFO and wanted a rest.

  5. Yohan

    ChrisPer that is how I felt about the sales too, and never felt comfortable with this aspect. I just ignored it.

    But I came to realise that the course only fills from one to the next via word of mouth. There is no advertising to run a Seminar, so in some ways understand why they structure it that way.

  6. .

    This seems a bit close to NLP for me to really think it has a lot of value other than priming the egos of those who seek such validation.

    Ray Dalio’s ‘hyperreality’ is the example of corporate psychology I would like to implement.

  7. ChrisPer

    No, its a very long way from NLP. It actually helps you break through blocked forms of thinking. And you dont need to be intellectual and grasp psychological concepts, it works directly by being shown the way and led to admit what is and isn’t your own actions and choices.

  8. Tony M

    Semi-related question, Rafe – if I want “Popper for dummies”, what’s the one book by or about him I should read?

  9. Rafe

    Tony, re Popper for dummies.

    Bryan Magee wrote a slim volume in the Fontana Modern Masters series, it gives you the bare bones for about $3.50 second hand.

    I like to think that my guides give a more expansive and helpful summary for people who are seriously interested.

    The Introduction to Reason and Imagination can be read on Amazon without buying the book, it is very short and provides a nice introduction to the three ideas that have put him offside with the profession.

    I don’t recommend The Logic of Scientific Discovery for beginners, it is a very tough introduction to his most important book. The Guide to the Povety of Historicism is very short, you can read most of that without buying it due to the lengthy appendices that follow the Guide proper.

    For the social and political thoughts you can tackle the Guide to the Open Society, it has the standard list of appendices and you should buy at least one of the Guides to get the set of appendices : the overview of his life and work: the main themes that make it different and special and the way it is misunderstood and misrepresented etc.

  10. Tony M

    Thank you very kindly, Rafe – again!

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