Avoid petty laws and useless officials – The Georgia Guidestones Principle 7

Pause……….and breathe out slowly…………… what a fantastic idea.

Following on from last week’s post about Vogon Planners at the local council, I’ve had a brush with petty laws and useless officials (an unjustifed parking ticket) so this feels very relevant.

“Avoid petty laws and useless officials” is the seventh of ten principles  which are inscribed on the Georgia Guidestones which are located in Elbert County,  about 90 miles from Atlanta. They have been described as the American Stonehenge (by someone who’s possibly never been to the proper Stonehenge or Avebury) and are a fairly controversial structure.

A few facts to whet your appetite:

  • They were erected in 1980 just outside Elbert, Georgia;
  • They are exactly 18 feet tall made of Georgia granite;
  • There are six slabs weighing more than 14 tons. One slab stands in the center, with four arranged around it, and are topped with a capstone;
  • A message consisting of a set of ten guidelines or principles is engraved on the Guidestones;
  • The principles are engraved in eight different languages, one language on each face of the four large upright stones;
  • Moving clockwise around the structure from due north, these languages are: English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Russian; and
  • The stones are astronomically aligned (uh ho…… something going on here…..?).

I’m not going to list the ten principles, have a look at the illuminating Georgia Guidestones entry on Wikipedia. The interesting stuff is who built them?  Nobody really knows. If you fancy digging into a bit of conspiracy theory around them; have a read of Brian Dunning’s skeptoid blog.

As good as principle seven is, the hard thing is actually achieving this utopian state
with few “petty laws and useless officials”, at organisational level, let alone worldwide.

Interestingly I’ve recently been involved in discussions around rules and principles for the use of social media in organisations. There is a strong tendency to develop
rules based on risk avoidance and to ‘over regulate’ rather than focus upon how
we could use social media to make things better. Discussions have ended on the
point that if lots of (pointless) rules were imposed, the best the organisation
could expect to get was compliance with the rules, and they probably wouldn’t
even get that as people always find ways around rules. This article from the New
York Times
shows how students have thwarted the bans on Facebook in schools.
I blogged about this topic a while back in stop the social media arms race in schools.

However (in my dreams), if organisations trusted people a little bit more, this would help to create an environment where people are engaged and start to show commitment to the organisation. Surely an organisation where people are engaged and committed has got to be better than one where they are compliant with the rules (just about).

So, what’s the PONT?

  1. We could all do with fewer, petty laws and useless officials.
  2. Trusting people to do the right is fundamental to achieving this situation.
  3. Trying this with the use of social media in organisations could be a good test and a way of building up trust.

Picture source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Georgia_guidestones.jpg

About whatsthepont

The things I’m currently interested in are: 1.How people learn and share knowledge; 2.Social Media, Web2.0 whatever you want to call the world of the internet; 3.Better public services.

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