• Neil Calvert, The Influence Ecology Podcast, Transactional Competence, Transactionalism

Decisions Based in Evidence with Neil Calvert

Twin Studies have been used for decades to settle the age-old Nature vs. Nurture debate about human behavior: are we hardwired to act according to our biological blueprint, or does our environment influence our behavior or gene expression? Twin Study research has helped find answers to questions on space travel, obesity, IQ, and much more. Empirical evidence has settled the debate for good. The answer? We are both Nature AND Nurture.

But what about a Digital Twin…and what can it teach us? A digital twin is a real-time digital replica of a living or non-living physical entity. This replication is used to find the root cause of issues -or- experiment with changes before they are implemented in real-time. Neil Calvert and his company LINQ model your business with a digital twin – helping organizations experiment with future opportunities before investing in change and transformation. Think of it as Twin Studies for organizations – offering decisions based in evidence.

Below you’ll find a transcript of this podcast episode that has been edited for your reading pleasure. You’ll also see links at the bottom of this post where you can find more information on the people and ideas mentioned in the episode.

by John Patterson
Produced by: John Patterson & Tyson Crandall

“Have I got the right people, the right time, the right money, the right systems, the right data to be able to achieve this thing I want to achieve in the future?

John Patterson: Neil, welcome to the Influence Ecology podcast. If you would, please take a second and introduce yourself. Tell us a little about you.

Neil Calvert: Yeah. Thanks, John. It’s great to be here, a brilliant opportunity. My name is Neil Calvert. I’m the co-founder and chief executive officer of Linq. We are a technology startup. Though I say startup, we’ve been going for five years now in disguise, but it still feels like a startup. I’m based in Wellington, in New Zealand, so I have an amazing opportunity to live somewhere fantastic and lead a lifestyle that works with a platform that is based around being on the cloud, being an incident-based platform. I can pretty much work from anywhere. That’s what I do.

John Patterson: Fantastic. By the way, Wellington is one of my favorite cities. It’s a beautiful place. To me it’s kind of European in its feel. It’s not too big, it’s just right. It’s in a Goldilocks Zone. It’s just the right size of a city to really enjoy. It’s in a beautiful environment. Anyway, I love where you live. It’s a fantastic place.

Neil Calvert: Well, you’re welcome here at any time. You know that.

John Patterson: That’s great. There’s a few things I’d like to do here. First of all, I’d like to learn a little more about Linq. If you can tell us a bit more about what that is, and what that company does.

Neil Calvert: Sure. I describe Linq as being a time machine for your business. We let organizations peer into their future and understand whether that future is going to be successful or not. We do that by helping the organization model their digital twin, so a digital representation of how they operate. That digital twin lets them account for the people that they have, a really highly valuable resource, the work that gets done, the systems they use. Our point of difference is, we also account for the data and information that makes all of that possible. We bring together this model of what people are doing and which tools they’re using … and the information they need to do that work, and how they do that work. We effectively account for all of that, in terms of how the business then generates the value that it needs to create to be successful. Whether that’s, you’re producing something that you’re selling. Or even down to things like, you might have the budget inside the organization which you are using to plan your fiscal year, but also know when you might recruit or you need to tighten up on operational costs. We account for how all of that work leads to those outcomes.

Neil Calvert: Then we let the business really gain insight, what does that mean to them, the way they work, and what they’re doing? You can effectively do future planning because you can say, if I got this area of the business which is really high value to me being successful, but I find things that are not quite so efficient or effective as they could be, what happens if I change that? So you do that in the model before you make the investment to do it on the ground, which of course, that costs real money at that point. You might be reorganizing teams. You might be thinking about recruiting new people. You might be buying new technology, which costs real money. So we let the business do that in the model before they go anywhere near doing it for real. That process lets them basically, as I said, peer into the future and define the measures and the metrics meaning they will be successful. Then they can get on and implement that change and that transformation with a much higher degree of confidence than they have had before.

John Patterson: That’s fantastic. I was going to ask you about digital twin because I’m not familiar with the term. Is that a term that’s used in some technology I don’t know about, or is that something that is your own IP?

Neil Calvert: No. It’s been around for a very long time. NASA were actually the first organization to think in terms of having a twin. You might have seen Apollo 13, the movie. They’re up in space heading to the moon, and their carbon dioxide filter stops working as a result of the fire. So in order to fix that, there were six teams on the ground who were in simulations of the module that they were in, with exactly the same environment and equipment. They worked really hard to come up with a solution that was then implemented in space. That’s the kind of analog version of a digital twin. Now if you think about doing that, using the technology that we have available to us today … the digital twin primarily is used in the engineering space. So there will be a model of a wind turbine, or the model of a generator, or an aircraft engine. That model exists to an engineering specification. What happens is, there are sensors on the real thing and that sends data to the digital twin, which responds as the real twin is responding to the environment. So you now have an effective mechanism to be able to monitor, to control, to maintain the real twin from the digital environment.

Neil Calvert: So it’s moving out of that engineering space and the term that’s been used is, the digital twin of an organization. We have to think slightly differently now. The organization as an ecosystem, as an entity, is made up of people, of systems, of work processes and of information. That’s where the digital twin just starts to extend the capability that we’ve had around the engineering digital twin for a good number of years. I’m taking advantage of the fact that the environment is changing. We’re recognizing, this is a term. I like it because it’s an interesting term. I get that response you just had from people when I talk to them, and that allows me to really help them step into the future. Because that’s what this feels like, and people like that.

John Patterson: Yeah. I pretty much would like to stop the podcast and just ask you about this for the next hour. I won’t. I won’t do that, but I do have some additional questions about it, just for our listeners as well. And especially those of Influence Ecology, because here at Influence Ecology our very name has a lot to do with the environments we find ourselves in, and how those environments influence us. My questions are first about your own business. You launched this approach as it pertains to businesses. You mentioned that it had been relevant in the engineering. Is this something that you guys began to bring to enterprises itself, generally speaking, as an ecosystem? Or was that also already being done some other way?

Neil Calvert: No. The digital twin of an organization isn’t something that’s been implemented inside the enterprise, other than for a couple of very select exceptionally large and wealthy organizations that have the capacity and the capability to do it in a way which is really unattainable for the majority. So we responded to that change in the environment at Linq in terms of our messaging. We started out talking about information flow modeling. How does data flow through the business, which is a bit yawnie. People are kind of, I don’t really understand that. This was us really adapting to a change in the ecology, which was led by some research that we did. So we’ve really jumped on the back of work that they’re doing, and just connecting ourselves to that messaging, which is becoming more and more adopted and accepted inside the enterprise. But as far as we are aware today, nobody else is creating an opportunity for a regular business to take advantage of something which is really exciting. So the digital twin of the organization is something which will fundamentally change the way that organizations operate in the future, and the way they make decisions about their future in response to what’s going on in the external environments in terms of digital technology and how that impacts all of our lives.

Neil Calvert: For me it was an opportunity to really make sure that Linq was being connected at the forefront of where the business is going, and align ourselves to a term, which just generates interest. It’s not just that, we have a capability which absolutely aligns to what a digital twin is supposed to do for an organization. It was the coming together of several things which allowed us to take advantage of that as a business.

John Patterson: I’m now wondering what other questions you commonly get, but I’m going to ask one and see if this is one of them. So in this digital twin, do you account for in this ecosystem factors outside of the system itself? Say, the market place or certain trends. I mean, there is countless variables, of course, in an ecosystem. You couldn’t count for all of them. But are there ways in which you do account for some of those kinds of variables?

Neil Calvert: Yes. But we do it by allowing the organization to stipulate the business’ outcomes that they need to create. So within Influence Ecology, within any organization, we have a set of strategic level aims that we are aspiring to, which is really driving the ethic and the culture inside the organization. We’re motivating our people to achieve things because we believe they’re the right thing to do for our business. Those get accounted for in terms of the business outcomes that we need to achieve as an organization. We’ll have a set of those, which we know about based on the horizon through which we look at time. We’ve got some near-horizon objectives that we’re trying to achieve, some medium ones and some far-horizon objectives. As you push out to the far horizon those things become significantly more aspirational, because you’re not really sure how you get there. Linq expresses those planned-for outcomes in terms of what the business is trying to achieve, and then lets the business understand whether they’ve got the capability inside the business to deliver those. At that point, in all terminology I guess, that looks like a gap analysis. Have I got the right people, the right time, the right money and systems, the right data to be able to achieve this thing I want to achieve in the future?

Neil Calvert: So, yes, you’re right, the environment external to the organization is huge and complex, and ever-changing. We would say, it is in constant process. You can’t account for all of those, so you have to rely on the people inside the business that have their finger on the pulse to help define objectives that need to be met, so then you can start to account for them.

John Patterson: All right. Very good. Well, thank you for taking the time to let me know about that. It’s fascinating. Maybe we’re in together at the conference, I can ask you some more questions about it. I’d love to turn our attention to the reason that we’re here really. People, Neil, have a commitment to find out about other people’s journeys because other people’s journeys teach us something. If I can learn from you, or if a listener can learn from you, then it serves all of us. Now you’ve had a journey here at Influence Ecology, where obviously you found out about us and started studying here. First of all, how long ago did you start studying with us?

Neil Calvert: I’m into my third year now.

John Patterson: You do a third year, okay. When you first started studying with us, how was life then? What was happening, what were you dealing with, struggling with? You obviously came this direction for a reason. How come?

Neil Calvert: I was introduced by another Influence Ecology member in Wellington, Jen Rutherford, who I think is in membership now. She had just come back from a new member conference, and we were talking just about, how do you help people understand the new thing that you’re trying to get them to think about? How do you disrupt their thinking? We were throwing some ideas around and she said, “Do you know what, Neil? You would love this study. It’s all about people. It’s all about how you think and how you can understand what they’re thinking, so that you can alter your messaging.” I was like, “Oh, that sounds really interesting.” I’ve always had this ponderance about psychology. At some point in my life I might have wanted to become a psychologist. To understand people I think is fascinating. I love airports for that reason, you know that. People watching is incredible at airports and the behaviors that come out are fascinating. Jen suggested it was something that I looked at. So I spoke to Drew, had a good conversation with him. And then sat back, based on that first hour of conversation with Drew and went, well, how am I dealing with this stuff today?

Neil Calvert: I think my overriding ethic was, if I work hard, good things will happen for me. I realized, that puts the reliance on other people to do things for you. If you sit and you just work hard, you’re expecting somebody else to recognize that you’re working hard and then reward you with something, whether that’s a new role or an increased salary. The combination of what Jen said to me and that initial chat with Drew made me immediately realize, that’s ridiculous. I’m effectively passing control of myself to somebody else who has their own things that they’re dealing with, and I might not be their priority. So it was a reasonably quick realization that my mindset was probably entirely wrong. As you know yourself, one of the first things you have to do is a huge amount of self-reflection in order to accept that is the wrong way to think. That you are naïve to all of those considerations. As I reflected more, I realized that’s where my mind was. I was just a really hard worker. I’d be lucky to some degree with that, but luck’s not a planning tool.

Neil Calvert: So it was time to really start thinking about whether there was a better way to understand what I wanted to achieve and how to get there, and at the same time connect that to the business opportunity that Linq had. It was very much, for me it was a personal journey, but it was my personal journey connected to Linq as an organization because of my position or the fact that we were trying to build something new. All of that was going on in my head at the time.

John Patterson: In the very early days when you began to study with Influence Ecology, did it impact how you thought about Linq?

Neil Calvert: Oh, without a doubt. I challenged Drew from day one that my learnings within Influence Ecology had to be practical enough that I could pretty much implement them immediately. I wasn’t interested in theoretical study, which didn’t really go anywhere, because there was no action to be taken as I learned. That was my challenge to Drew, okay, I’m in, but best I can apply this. And thinking about the fundamentals of transaction, paper one, that whole conversation about, can you articulate and aim in anything in a fundamental condition of life? When you start thinking about money, career, health and work, and going, I can’t. I don’t know for me what that means and I also don’t know what that means for Linq. So immediately having to do the work and say, right, wow, what does success look like in terms of the identity that Linq is trying to push into the market place? How do I get to the ecology without spending a million dollars, to make a million dollars? There were some very fundamental thought processes put into my head from effectively week one, fortnight one of FOT, and to be perfectly honest with you, it’s been that way ever since.

Neil Calvert: It’s been three years of monthly challenges to the way I think. That’s what’s it made so exciting.

John Patterson: It’s really great I think there’s an opportunity for those that are listening, because we do often get the question, is this just all theory? Which we would say, no, it’s quite pragmatic. You just described a bit of that. What would you say to those people who wonder about that?

Neil Calvert: It’s absolutely not just theory. The tools that you’re provided with, like the 13 steps, the transaction cycle, provide a framework where you can implement your thinking immediately. You follow the 13 steps against the challenge that you’re having, or some barrier in your thinking, and you can find a way to break through it. The tools are provided as part of the study to really let you, if you want to, begin to think differently and make it work for yourself and the business.

John Patterson: How did this study help you understand yourself and others?

Neil Calvert: That’s a great question. I don’t know if I’m there yet, the study of yourself, right? The thing I’ve realized and I’m still working on is, what does a successful, happy life mean for me across the fundamental conditions of life? I never thought about my life in that way before. So I’m beginning to understand me. I’m married. I’ve got a son. We have a dog. We’ve got a nice life, but what does it mean to say, I’m successful and satisfied in my relationship? The distinction between work and career, I’ve never really thought about that. Career as an identity. What does it mean to have an identity? What is the identity you want? How do you want people to see you? How does that fit with your ethic and your morale base? I’ve never really thought like that. So to be asked some really simple questions … there’s nothing simpler really than, how do you know that you’re happy in your relationship? It’s a really simple question to ask. It’s a massively complex question to answer. So for me that was a bit of a revelation. Then, of course, there are aspects of that, which cross right into the business. Therefore, what are your aims for your business? If you took the money aim, how do you know that you’re satisfied as an organization with money? How do you even describe that?

Neil Calvert: So the challenge that has been laid down that I’m still dealing with is, yeah, how do I describe to myself what those things mean? If I can’t articulate those, how do I expect to understand whether an opportunity that’s staring at me, is really an opportunity or a threat to myself and my business? I think that’s one of the fundamental pieces of challenge that was laid down by Influence Ecology and remains for me today. It’s not a simple thing to do. But the thinking that you have to do, the accuracy with which you have to approach that work, is astonishing. And it gets deeper and deeper the more you go into it. So, yes, that crossover is very, very real. I’m getting there. I’m focusing on the things that matter today. There are a bunch of them which I know I have neglected to even think about, but I think that’s just part of the timeline and the journey. We have to deal with those more fundamental conditions before you can start to worry about some of the more aspirational ones like legacy and politics. They don’t matter when you’re still worrying about keeping a roof over your head and feeding yourself and your family, as an example.

John Patterson: Any correlations between the work that you’re doing to produce a digital twin for an enterprise and considering all the conditions of life for a human being?

Neil Calvert: Absolutely. There’s a really interesting philosophical conversation that could be had about, what is an organization? It’s an environment, but it’s an organism in its own right. It’s an organism that’s made up of individuals who have aspirations and aims. They’re an entity inside that bigger entity. And the environment is created on a daily basis between the people that are working together, and where that organization sits in its own market place. So you have to make sure that, as you are talking about the digital twin, you’re not oversimplifying it, but at the same time you’re not overcomplicating the conversation because then it can feel too big. I’m always minded to come back to, who am I talking to? How does this help them, at this point in time, achieve something that they are aspiring to? Whether that’s their reputation inside the organization, whether it’s keeping their job because they’re under pressure, whether it’s giving them time back to do some of the other things that are important to them. So if you can break this massive idea around, yeah, we can model the whole of your organization and show you how things are working, right back down to, and your place in it … so you can understand your impact on the whole of this organism that you are part of. But also, how do you manage the environment that you’re operating in on a minute-by-minute basis potentially, because of the way that the people interact?

Neil Calvert: That’s for me where the excitement is around the opportunity, but that’s why it makes it so complex and you have to think carefully about it. These are conversations that you often start with some trepidation, but you have to navigate that in order to make this valuable to the people that you’re talking to, and have them understand it and accept it and want to be a part of it. So that’s a huge crossover, and probably I’m only just scratching the surface of the implication when you start thinking that way.

John Patterson: Yeah. In the work we do with enterprises there is a lesson that moves people from thinking of themselves as some sort of overlord in an enterprise … or that they have some sort of means in which to command things to go their way. At some point they begin to consider themselves as a mere aspect of a larger transaction, of a larger enterprise. And in doing so start to then be concerned, instead of over-lording and commanding, perhaps to influence or to build environments that begin to move things in the ways that would benefit the entire transaction. Are there any correlations with what I’ve just described in the work that you do to produce a digital twin and what it shows to people?

Neil Calvert: Yeah, absolutely. Most organizations think about their people … or they like to believe they think about their people as individuals inside the organization.

John Patterson: People.

Neil Calvert: As people, right. But they tend to come down, at some level they turn into a line item in the budget, an X number of FTEs, which depersonalizes them, but also doesn’t reflect anything about the value that individuals have inside an organization. So the models that we build contextualize the people and put a value on the people. At that point I think you can’t help but begin to understand that your influence is only achieved by having a relationship with all the other people who are delivering value into an organization. You take one of those pieces out, because you’re not thinking the right way … you’re unkind, or your approach doesn’t sit well with them, you can impact the whole of the system. So the models that pivot around what do people do and how do they do it, and the value they enable inside the organization, those really sit well with helping senior leadership understand how they can do that in a new way. A friend of mine is an expert in leadership, and I need to have a conversation with him about the stalls of leadership, and it moves away from the shtick.

Neil Calvert: It’s not even a carrot, it’s a full collaboration between people who understand that without the team around them, they’re not going to achieve the success that’s required.

John Patterson: In your view, what is it most people are dealing with to move away from the command and control model into more of a collaborative organizational model?

Neil Calvert: Oh, there’s a few constant struggles, I think. The first is time. People never have enough time to do anything. I’m more and more convinced that a lack of time to step back, have a look around you, reflect on what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, actually leads people to become trapped into a way of working, that might have been a way that was defined for them before they even arrived in the organization. This is a bit of my bugbear around the word ‘process’ in business. Process modeling. Because as a methodology that organizations use, it becomes very stale quickly because it’s out-of-date. It also turns into procedural documentation as opposed to an evolving way of describing what people do. So time is one of the key reasons most things never get updated. It has a huge influence over the way people work. That’s definitely a constant struggle. I think the other is that we know human beings as animals are reluctant to change. We don’t like it, so we will always follow the path of least resistant. When something new comes along, it might be the best thing since sliced bread, to use that analogy, but it’s hard and it’s significantly harder than the way I’m doing it today. Even if the way I’m doing it today doesn’t necessarily give me all of the results I need, it’s easy. So why would I choose something hard over something that’s easy?

Neil Calvert: There’s a psychological barrier, a cognitive bias, that exists in all of us, that I think you break down through diversity in teams. The more diverse you can have a team with different backgrounds and different experiences, those biases become much easier to overcome. But we’re not built that way. We don’t default to that inside organizations. Those are two things that immediately spring to mind where the impact is severe, because we don’t ever think about doing anything differently. Because we don’t have enough time and we’ll just stick with doing what we’re doing. It’s that safe.

John Patterson: You’re talking about a bit of … what I saw in your notes was your soapbox moment, if you will. A bit about the cognitive bias that we don’t realize we have. Anything else you want to say about that?

Neil Calvert: My soapbox can get pretty big when I start thinking about these things. For me it’s about, we’ve got to think differently. This is not just me inside Linq. I just think as a worldwide society it’s time to think differently. Einstein’s got this amazing quote, which is, “We can’t fix problems using the same thinking that we used when we created them.” But I see that happening all the time, this is the way we’ve always done it. It’s a very hindsight, oversight-orientated perspective to have, rather than an insight and foresight perspective. I’m looking forward, so I’m trying to think of new ways of doing things. I’m innovating, I’m being curious. I’m intrigued by the things I see and I’m motivated to do something about it. I think it’s necessary for people to understand what it means to think differently. Bringing that soapbox back to why I study with Influence Ecology, and why am I in that too, and here in year three, it’s because it forces you to think differently. You have to reflect on yourself and how you deal with other people, in order to have the opportunity to show them that there is an opportunity. Bringing it back to business, I see that all the time, that the way business cases are written today is an abomination.

Neil Calvert: It takes so much time. It’s so complex, people don’t enjoy doing it. The statistic that gets thrown around is, 70% of the change projects fail. It’s become a myth in the industry that 70% of projects fail. The number is pretty close to that, and it’s because we’re just constantly doing things the same way. We haven’t stopped to go, if we approach this from the other way, could we actually get to a decision faster and save ourselves time and money … and actually do something of value and control what that looks like, and care about the people that are impacted? We just don’t seem to. We’ve got ourselves fixed on this methodology that we’ve learned from people before us, and we just carry on the same old way. Yeah, my soapbox is about challenging people to reflect on what they’re doing, and be brave and think differently, and help them articulate that inside the organization to people that will listen and care. I think if we do that across all sorts of aspects of our lives, we would be living in a very different world right now. We need to moving forward, we need things to change.

John Patterson: It’s great. Very good. It sounds as if you’ve learned some things about personality and transactional behavior, especially yourself as an inventor personality. Then as a typical inventor … by no means that you’re typical, but we don’t ask for help too much. You’ve learned a lot about asking for help. I want to give you the opportunity to address anything about that area of your notes.

Neil Calvert: It was a bit of a revelation I had at the last, at your member conference, when we were in Los Angeles. I started asking people for help. I started talking about … not about me. That was the other revelation, I think. Don’t talk about yourself, talk about the gaps that you have and the challenges you’re facing, and really sit down and ask people for help. You can’t expect people to read between the lines, so you have to say it. I could really do with some help with this, can you help? Do you know other people that might be able to help me? The reaction you get from these most simple words is astonishing. I’ve had more help as a result of my conversations at the member conference, than I think I can remember at any point through my career. Because people are interested and they do genuinely want to help, if they can. The majority of people do. I continue to use that. I’m having conversations right now, and I turn around to the guys and I said, “Look, I’m not too proud to say, I really need help.” The reaction you get from people when you do that … you’re putting yourself on the line, there’s the heart on your sleeve, you’re being vulnerable. But I think it’s necessary when you want other people around you and a huge acknowledgement, I can’t do all of this on my own.

Neil Calvert: LINQ is a really small team and I know the impact of being stretched too thinly. So the only way of resolving that without having huge operational expenses, to have people help you. That’s been really good. I think the other point you asked about was understanding more about personalities. I often talk to people … I think Kirkland told a story once about two people walking down the corridor and one comes up with a good idea and articulates it to the other. The other either thinks they’ve been told to run away and do something, or one of them thinks that they just transacted for somebody to go and do some work, but the other one just hears a great idea and goes, oh, that was nice and wanders off. And two weeks later it’s like, where’s that thing? What thing? You didn’t ask. Once you become aware of that, you see it happening all the time. We might speak a different language.

John Patterson: Everywhere.

Neil Calvert: Yeah. But it’s not what comes out of your mouth that’s different. It’s what people hear going in through their ears, and how that processes in their heads that is hugely different. Yes, understanding the personalities and how they hear, that’s been super useful. Being able to quickly go, right, you’re a judge character. Now I know the things I need to say to you to have you help me, or to prevent your biology from overtaking you and causing this conversation to self-destruct. That’s hugely valuable because that happens every day.

John Patterson: How has that understanding impacted your relationship with your team or your spouse, or the actual construct that is LINQ itself?

Neil Calvert: You can find yourself having a lot more control over your own biology. It’s not about having control over other people, because you can’t. You can’t control other people. You can’t tell other people how to think. What you can do is control your own reaction to the things that come out of other people’s mouths, and use that to move the transaction along in a really positive way. So whether that’s just a calming voice, or an alternative viewpoint put in a specific way that works rather than a reaction … don’t react but contribute instead. I’m now able to do that with the people that I talk to. That includes my wife and my son. Max is 12 years old, is a very typical boy. Being able to have a different type of conversation with him when he reacts to things … even if it’s as simple as, hey, Max, can you unload the dishwasher? A typical reaction. Well, you can deal with that because you don’t have to react biologically to him reacting biologically. And you can go and have a proper conversation that diffuses everything, I’m getting to unload the dishwasher. There’s some highly practical outcomes, knowledge and tools that you end up being able to use in everyday situations.

Neil Calvert: As well as then you start talking to a chief financial officer inside an organization that you’re trying to sell to, and you realize they’re a judge. They are trying to diffuse your innovation that you want to talk to them about by thinking about the results that they have had in the past. But they’re talking cheese because this is entirely new. So having the skillset to be able to handle the dichotomy of situations, you find yourself in on a daily basis, has resulted from a better understanding of who people are and how they operate and what they hear.

John Patterson: It’s great. Neil Calvert, it’s a pleasure to speak with you today.


John Patterson: In today’s talk you’ll hear a segment of a webinar where co-founder Kirkland Tibbels and I speak on the subject of accurate thinking. In this talk I refer to a quote we’ve included in our show notes. Here’s the talk.

Kirkland Tibbels: Accurate thinking is a term or a terminological distinction that we borrow from Napoleon Hill. Napoleon Hill has done some great work in his philosophy of success. One of, I think, the most powerful things that Napoleon Hill offers us in his philosophy is this notion of accurate thinking. Because as much as he lives in a world of positive mental attitude and enthusiasm, all along the way Napoleon Hill also offers in his philosophy a sense of deliberate and accurate thinking. Accurate thinking asks you to consider the facts of the situation that you’re currently in. John, that’s where I’ll stop and let you move on.

John Patterson: All right. What is accurate thinking? I put this quote up and I hope you’re laughing, because the Internet is filled with a lot of stuff. It’s filled with a lot of stuff. It’s my biggest fear that people will attribute say, quotes to me and millions of morons on the Internet will believe it. Albert Einstein, right, I don’t know that Albert Einstein was alive during the Internet. Is that right? Anyway, I hope you get the joke, but this is a kind of thing we see a lot of. I remember early on in my work with you, about a decade ago, Kirkland and I said something to which you said, “Yeah. John, I don’t know that I accept that as fact.” I was slightly offended when you said it, as if I wasn’t entitled to my view. But it was a wonderful course correction for what began to be a journey to think accurately. Because I was quite used to saying things and thinking things, and believing things that I heard or saw on the Internet, or that were common notions, or what you and I, Kirkland, call the current.

John Patterson: I think it would be useful to say a little about what we mean by the current, because this slide is such a great demonstration of it. Could you say what the current is?

Kirkland Tibbels: Yeah. I’d be happy to. We coined the phrase the current. A phrase that essentially addresses the kind of environment we can get swept away by, or caught in, like a river current or a stream, if you will. The current is simply the dominant narrative in any particular ecology or situation. If you’re in an environment, say a business environment, you can count on, the social narratives that drive your particular business environment are the things that are most current. The things that aren’t necessarily true, they’re not necessarily factual, but they catch hope. You could state in some ways they’re cultural narratives that sort of sweep us away and carry us in a direction without us necessarily stopping to check the facts. I’m expecting most of you recognize what we’re talking about, that it’s easy to get swept away in a current of narrative. We call that distinction ‘the current.’ The current, sometimes it is accurate. Sometimes there are things going on in the dominant narrative that are accurate and we should pay attention to it, for sure. But my experiences for the most part, it’s mostly not accurate. It’s mostly a dangerous place to spend a whole lot of time.

What is required of us, as we move in our social constructs, is to demand some fact. To have people ground their assertions. To have people recognize and qualify their opinions. We are a social being and we exist in language, and predominantly we do that through the construct of narrative. More and more, especially as the Internet is taking hold and media begins to be more and more distinct, distilled and specialized, we tend to traffic in bubbles or currents that we like, and resist those that we don’t. Every one of us is comfortable in some narrative, say politically, or in some kind of cultural environment. Some of us would rather not look at or even hear the views that are counter to the way we were brought up or some of our beliefs. We would like to invite you to consider that there is opportunity in that diversity. That there is opportunity in finding out the other side of the story, and to examine the facts of situations before we jump off and make critical decisions and start taking action on things.

John Patterson: My special thanks to our guest Neil Calvert. In our show notes you’ll find links to connect with him and the links to websites, books or downloads mentioned in this podcast.

The Influence Ecology Podcast is produced by Influence Ecology, LLC in Ventura, California. This episode was recorded July 15th, 2019 and was produced by Tyson Crandall and John Patterson. You can find a transcript for this and other episodes at InfluenceEcology.com. This episode is made possible through the assistance of the Influence Ecology Faculty, Staff, Mentors, and Students around the world. Co-founder Kirkland Tibbels and our colleagues comprise an international collective of professionals who are active in the development of the philosophy of Transactionalism and the discipline of Transactional Competence. Kirkland is considered a leading philosopher and authority in the field and he has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline.

This episode includes contributions by Karal Gregory. The podcast theme is by Chris Standring and titled ‘Fast Train to Everywhere.’ You can subscribe to the Influence Ecology Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or via email at podcast@influenceecology.com.

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Influence Ecology is the leading business education specializing in Transactional Competence, having published and contributed to the only comprehensive text on the subject, Transactionalism: An Historical and Interpretive Study by Trevor J. Phillips. Co-Founder Kirkland Tibbels has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline of transactional competence and is a sought-after lecturer at universities, major corporations, and civic organizations around the world. 

Influence Ecology’s curriculum includes conferences, webinars, online tools, podcasts, and mentorship utilized by men and women in over seventy countries around the world. Our membership includes an international assembly of accomplished professionals, faculty, and peers from a variety of countries, industries, and cultures.