Nobody else in the room was named, therefore their mental model was normal. Their mental models are the norm therefore nothing needs naming.
I was looking at a bunch of people who didn’t know that their mental model was command and control, they didn’t know they had one at all.
They were just normal. And they are, perfectly normal and nice. All different in many ways, but in work, normal. Normal being “the default”. Normal is never noticed. Normal is invisible, so anything other than normal is the thing to be named. You don’t have to name normal. You can’t name it, it’s invisible.
Except you do have to sometimes.
The above things aren’t thought normal these days. Normal has moved on, normal always moves on. But normal doesn’t move on by itself. Normal squats there waiting, refusing to budge. It’s abnormal that moves normal, when something new and not-normal comes along, spots the normal, and wants to change it.
It’s abnormal that is spotted and named by the normal.
The slave-owners weren’t called slave-owners. It was the people who spotted it as a thing in itself and wanted to change it that had a name, they were named Abolitionists.
The people who opposed votes for women didn’t have a name. The people who spotted this as a thing and wanted to change it had a name, Suffragists.
And so on, Mothers Against Drink Driving, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, all have a name. But normal doesn’t, there isn’t an association of Drunks For Drink Driving, or People for Making Animals Miserable. There’s just normal.
If you don’t name normal, people just don’t know it is there at all.
Myself, I would rather know who self-names as normal so I can avoid them like the plague. Here are some badges I have made up and will be distributing. How many takers will I get?
Normal at work is often called Command & Control. It’s an apt name, as at the heart of work-normal is commands and controls. But as I’ve never spotted anybody who self-names as Command & Control. Who would? It sounds dreadfully bossy. Command and control sounds like an awful person barking orders out and brooking no insubordination.
I’ve worked in loads of command and control organisations and only met a small handful of people like that. Most have been nice. Woolly even, at times. They would bridle at being named command and control. That’s because they are normal and normal refuses to be named.
You don’t have to be bossy to be command and control. You just have to work in a command and control environment and think it normal, normal enough not to question. Hey presto, a new recruit. It is hard to look outside the normal and start seeing it as abnormal. Something created, something temporary, something that can be something else instead.
For me the beauty of systems thinking/Deming/Vanguard method is it allows you see normal for the first time. It reveals itself as you start to see your own taken for granted mental models about work. It’s only when you learn that there actually ARE assumptions underlying your thoughts that you can start to change these assumptions. You can’t learn before you un-learn. And you can’t unlearn until you’ve spotted that there actually IS something to unlearn. That thing that you have to unlearn is the normal.