Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
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5 September 2005 | Uncompleted

Extreme Professionalism

Strategic management under conditions of system collapse

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Introduction

As the complexity of society increases, and the complexity of challenges that it faces, there is increasing evidence of system collapse. This currently takes concrete form as isolated instances: corporations downsizing or collapsing, incapacity of public services to deliver as foreseen, pollution of food chains or ecosystems, uncheckable spread of epidemics, inability to maintain infrastructure, failure of social safety nets, lack of coordination exacerbated by mismanagement, etc.

Such challenged sub-systems are typically managed by "professionals" whose skills are considered vital to conceiving and implementing remedial measures to prevent further degradation. It is however characteristic of any gradual process of degradation that the capacity of the professional to act, as conventionally understood, is itself further eroded. Funds are cut, trained personnel are cut (or effectively encouraged to leave by degrading working conditions), vital equipment becomes progressively more obsolete and prone to failure, demoralization of key personnel becomes more probable, formal support systems prove increasingly unreliable, etc.

This is an exploration of how it remains possible to act professionally despite progressive degradation of the system requiring professional expertise. It would seem that such insights are appropriate in anticipation of any more comprehensive system failure -- as foreseen by a range of studies.

* extreme accounting

What is professionalism?

Discipline / Expertise Know-how / Operacy

Varieties of professionalism and exemplars

Feyerabend: cook, midwife, gardener

surrogates Self-discipline Collective
organization
Technology,
Tools
Morale Information,
education
Income
(generation)
Culture Health Food Security,
shelter

Incarceration, Concentration
camps
Tunnel digging Adaptation,
innovation
Chang Mai Lookouts
Economic sanctions Adaptation,
innovation
Cuba
education
Cuba ballet Cuba
doctors
Social sanctions shunning
Developing
country
Adaptation,
innovation
(Car repair)
Peace Corps Traditional healers
Survival conditions (disasters) Ray Mears,
SAS
Adaptation,
innovation
Ray Mears
Urban shelter Salvation Army Soup kitchen Salvation Army
Joblessness Prostitution
Spiritual community
Intentional community
Chronic incapacity
Terminal incapacity
Institutionalization

Challenging cases of "professionalism"

Constraints on recognition of professionalism

Erosion of enabling resources

Context

Strategic professionalism

Professional

Direction under system collapse

Professional vs Amateur


professor vs professional

confessor vs confessional

professional carer vs amateur carer

professionals in a triage situation -- lizards tails

prayer pattern -- Muslim / camel

clean mirror

compagnons / craftsmen

professional and integrity -- honour

secret society -- initiates

psychotherapist: does not buy into patient framework, however much they enter into its logic

distinguishing

sacrifice

bear witness

exemplar / stakhanovite

missionaries / mormon

"on your own"

Louie: be yourself in an unsupportive environment

making the best of circumstances

problem of walkins:

LETS

professional questions assumptions

activist

guardian exemplar

problem of international community

problem of any group

bad track record

 

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