16 April 2023
In the world of Business Analysis there is a discipline called Process Modelling. Its output would be familiar to most people, consisting of diagrams to show how a business process, for example, fulfilling an order, is supposed to work. As a discipline it strives for clarity and simplicity, through a complex syntax and method, and can be hard to learn, and easy to botch.
One of the common mistakes novices make is to assume they know what a customer, or other external party, will do in response to some message or instruction from the company. Pictorially, the customer is often wrongly represented as one of a number of ‘swim lanes’ in a ‘pool’ depicting the roles each department plays in a given business process.
In reality, the company cannot know what the customer will do; whether they will complete the form they’ve been sent correctly, or whether they’ll return a different form, or return it after some arbitrary period has expired, or any number of other variations. For this reason, the proper way to represent a customer in such a diagram is as a completely separate ‘pool’. What happens inside the customer pool cannot be fully known – the thought process, the logic if any, the emotional influences making a customer react a certain way are all a mystery. The business can only send and receive ‘messages’ to and from a customer. The term adopted for such a pool is a Black-Box Pool.
I wonder how many of us realise that we citizens actually swim in a Black-Box Pool, even though at times it feels like the authoritarian hand of government is controlling our every move, thought, and emotion. In reality, we are only receiving and sending messages to and from the government or other authority.
That’s not to say that the business, or government, can’t predict fairly well what our thoughts, emotions, and reactions will be. And that they have a fair array of weapons in their arsenal which can make choosing the right response difficult. But ultimately, we retain the power of choice.
Take for example the introduction of a curfew during one of Melbourne’s endless series of lockdowns. The message received from the Premier (to whom I refuse to give the dignity of a name) was pretty clear: stay inside from 9 pm to 5 am. The citizens had a range of choices in response to this message – and collectively the response they made was to obey, submit, and cower in their homes. An alternative response would have been to flood the streets on the dot of 9 pm with folding chairs and picnic rugs, cups of coffee in insulated flasks, snacks and sandwiches, and music and lights. Now that would have been an unmistakable ‘message’ back to the would-be tyrants that the people would not be imprisoned. En masse, such disobedience would have been impossible for the police to tackle, except through an escalating series of power displays that would have exposed the depths of their betrayal of the citizens they are supposed to serve. Alas, it only happened in my imagination.
I find it helpful to think of myself as in a Black-Box Pool, retaining, despite the efforts of the government and the mainstream media, some degree of autonomy of thought, and therefore action. In particular, I’ve found no detriment to my happiness by contriving not to receive those incoming ‘messages’ aimed at us via the TV in government ads and the editorial choices made by the news bulletins and other programming. An hour listening to Bach is better than watching the news.
When I let my guard down, though, the ‘messages’ hit hard. The Australian government is still pushing booster ‘vaccines’; the latest ad is an insult to anyone who has kept up with the revelations that the shots do not prevent infection or transmission, not to mention the awful and growing toll of adverse side effects. The advertisement equates taking a third, fourth, or even fifth and sixth dose to getting a ‘top-up’ to your hydration level, or a ‘top-up’ to the air in your car tyres, or topping up your phone battery, or topping up a cup of coffee.
As facile and dishonest as the ads are, I can tell you that they work. Two people close to me are on their way today to get their ‘top-up’. Worrying times.
Contrast the reckless disregard for individual autonomy and decision making as evidenced by the vaccine mandates and aggressive ostracising of recalcitrants like me, with the more balanced commentary around AFL players suffering concussion injuries. Some voices speak up for the right of the player to make his own decision about whether or not to return to game. Sadly voices like these were nowhere to be found when the AFL imposed its own vaccine mandate, forcing several players out of the game.
Each of us is, way down, a Black-Box Pool – our innermost thoughts and feelings known only to ourselves, and to God. Honouring that autonomy of thought, and decision-making is to respect one’s own and other peoples individuality, freedom, and place in the world. By the same token, the manipulation of someone’s free will through deliberate propaganda and psychological tactics is an abomination.
This article was first published on Substack. Read it here.