Ways to Influence the Subject
There are three possibilities to change the attitude of the subject with respect to reality for the better, without changing the reality itself.
First, what is the subject dissatisfied with? This is it with what he knows about the situation. But he does not know everything! Among the things that he does not know, information of a positive nature could be one. If you inform the subject about this, his dissatisfaction will decrease.
While there are many examples of this, the one case that deserves special attention is when this is carried out in the form of education and training of the subject. In this case, the cause of dissatisfaction is precisely the lack of information, and getting the required information during training leads to a solution to the problem. Interestingly, when familiarizing with several American firms practicing systems analysis, it was found that about 80% of the problems of their clients were solved through training, retraining, and advanced training of the client’s company personnel. This illustrates the fact that if you want to change reality, change yourself first.
It is worth noting another peculiarity of this problem-solving method. Additional information provided to the client must necessarily be positive, but not obligatorily true. There are cases when the problem is resolved with the help of false information. Everyone can remember an episode from his/her life when they were telling a lie. If you admit to yourself why the deception was preferred to truth, it turns out that with the help of lies in those conditions, it was possible to reach the goal much faster and easier than with the help of truth. This is not an excuse, and certainly not propaganda of a lie, but only a statement of the fact that there would be no lie if it were not useful. In all languages, there are concepts analogous to the Russian “lie for salvation”: “white lie” or “holy lie” in social life; disinformation of an enemy in war; fake news in politics; mimicry among animals, insects, and even plants; and so on.
Another option for manipulating information is sorting out the useful truth from the harmful one, or preparing filtered half-truths. For example, one Dutch poultry farm managed to significantly increase the productivity of meat production by setting chickens’ eye lenses with a darkened top. Among chickens there is a hierarchy: the larger the bird’s crest, the higher it is in the hierarchy. During feeding, “seniors” drive away “juniors” from the trough. As lenses do not allow a bird to see who has what crest, disputes ceased, the food being stopped “dosed”, and the growth of all birds increased dramatically (by about 20%) (See Figure 1.3).
The next possibility to solve the problem without changing the reality is to change the subject’s perception of the reality. Since the evaluation of the relationship of a subject with the environment is a mental phenomenon, there is the possibility of influencing the psyche of the subject in the right direction. Forms of influence can be different: mental (hypnosis, suggestion, propaganda, advertising, etc.), physical (effects of various fields, such as acoustic, electric, or magnetic), and chemical (psychotropic drugs, narcotics, alcohol) (see Figure 1.4).
Let us emphasize that we do not evaluate what is good and what is bad; we merely state that there are actual opportunities (which must be used cautiously).
The third possibility to solve the problem without changing the problem situation itself is based on the fact that the problem arose as a result of the interaction of the subject with the situation. Therefore, sometimes the problem can be solved by interrupting this interaction (see Figure 1.5).
Here, too, there is a whole range of options: from pleasant ones to the problem carrier (promotion, assignment to study, or vacation), using more or less neutral (transfer to another department, rotation), to painful ones (dismissal, etc.), and even to the extremely cruel, condemned, but, unfortunately, still existing (“There is a person — there is a problem, there is no person — there is no problem”).
FIGURE 1.3 Some problems stem from shortage of information about the situation.
FIGURE 1.4 Some problems stem from an incorrect estimation of the situation.
FIGURE 1.5 Some problems are inherent to the interaction between the subject and the situation.
Intervention in Reality
Let us now turn to the second group of possibilities for solving the problem — by intervening in the problem situation itself. Naturally, the intervention should change the situation in such a way that the client’s discontent decreases or disappears altogether. However, at the same time, we have to face a very significant circumstance, which, in fact, gave impetus to the detailed development of the technology of applied systems analysis. The fact is that in a real (problematic for our client) situation, not only our problem-holder is involved but also many other actors who assess this situation from their own positions. For them, it may not be a problem, or their problems may differ from the client’s problem (see Figure 1.6).
Any change in the situation as a result of any intervention will be noticed and evaluated by all its participants, and may not be necessarily approved by all. Those displeased with the intervention will apply their resources to resist it.
A fundamentally important question arises: how should one proceed in connection with this circumstance?
To answer this question, let us turn to the fundamental, cardinal difference between the object and the subject. The subject, being simultaneously a physical
object, exists in a real physical environment and, like any other object, is subject to the effects of this environment. Unlike the object, the subject is not only subordinate to natural laws but also endowed with the ability to evaluate its interactions with the environment: he may or may not like something. This is where the individuality of the subject is laid. Subsequently (in the chapter on models), we will discuss the reasons for this, but for now, we emphasize that the assessments are purely individual and subjective and that there can be no objective assessments. As a result, the same reality is evaluated by different subjects differently.
The following advice may be useful in this regard:
Whenever any evaluative word is heard in your presence (good-bad, useful-harmful, right-wrong, etc.), be alert, and ask the question:
“In what sense?”
The essence of the advice is that no evaluations are objective. Evaluations are always subjective, and if you want to understand the true meaning of what has been said, you need to find out what criteria the evaluator applies as different subjects may evaluate the same thing differently.
Let us now return to our question of how to act, solving the client’s problem if there are other participants in the situation with inevitably different interests. Answer: we must act correctly. The word “correct” is an evaluative one; hence, the question arises of what is meant by this.
Three Types of Ideologies
The correct behavior is considered to be the one that is most consistent with the ideology adopted by the subject. It is the ideology that determines what is bad and what is good, what is right and what is wrong.
It turns out that ideologies may be different. The adherence to one’s “own” ideology is a complex result of personal choice based on the impact of education, culture, and circumstances. Ideologists cite a large number of arguments in favor of their own ideology, discussing its many differences from other teachings. However, you can point out one feature that helps to distinguish between ideologies in our case. This is the definition of what attitude to other subjects is correct.
Although many various gradations between ideologies can be introduced (like between numerous political parties in some countries), the essential differences in attitude to others can be made between the three types of ideologies. Each of these ideologies leads to different approaches to solving the real-life problem.
The first type of ideology is called conditionally “the principle of the priority of the major person”. In our case (Figure l .6, field 1), this principle leads to an intervention that is pleasing to the client, irrespective of the opinions of other participants. Some of them may like it, and some may not, but it must be implemented by all means. There are real-life examples of implementation of such ideologies: dictatorship, monarchy, unity of command, hierarchical organization, egoism, self-esteem, etc. You can even explicitly admit that in some circumstances, such an ideology gives the greatest chance for success (army, war, emergency, need to concentrate efforts of many people on a single common purpose, etc.).
It is necessary, however, to keep in mind that a number of specific features are inherent in the implementation of this ideology, which will inevitably have to be taken into account. First, the implementation of such an approach to solving the problem of the number one person will surely cause discontent of a certain part of the other participants in the situation, which will prompt them to respond. Hence, those who accepted this ideology should have the power to suppress the discontented and the willingness to use force.
The second ideology can be called the “group priority principle”. According to it, among the participants of the situation, besides the client, there are other subjects no less important and valuable than the client (Figure 1.6, field 2).
Therefore, now the intervention should be carried out taking into account the interests of all “ours”. This, on the one hand, complicates the design of the intervention, but on the other, it opens up the possibility of using the resources of not only the client but also the rest of the group. There are many examples of real practice of this ideology: racism, nationalism, fascism, communism, or any group activity, including political party, trade union, sports, etc. We emphasize that here we do not set the task to assess such ideology: for those who accepted it, it is the only correct one, while for opponents, it is unacceptable. However, it is worth noting some of the inherent features of this ideology, which are latently embedded in it and in appropriate conditions may manifest themselves negatively. First, this is a double morality: by dividing everyone into “us” and “them”, “ours” and “alien”, it allows them to be treated differently. In the class variant, “not ours” are generally regarded as enemies, which leads to aggressiveness and build-up of power structures. Different groups resolve this contradiction in different ways, and stories are known for successful and tragic variants. The case when a “major” person belongs to several different groups simultaneously deserves special attention, which is an inherent reason for corruption.
And now, the good news: applied systems analysis adheres to the third ideology (see Figure 1.6, field 3), the “the principle ofpriority of all and each”, which is based on two postulates:
- - there are no identical subjects, and they are all different;
- - despite the differences, all subjects possess equal rights and have equal social value.
It follows that it is wrong and immoral to solve the problem of some at the expense of others. Only improving intervention is the recognized correct and moral approach.
Improving intervention is a change in a problem situation that is positively evaluated by at least one of its participants and non-negatively by all others.
Naturally, our client should be among those who positively assess the proposed intervention.
In connection with the above, applied systems analysis can be called the theory and practice of design and implementation of improving interventions. Since this does not give rise to new discontent among any of the participants in the situation, another (equivalent) definition of applied systems analysis can be formulated as a technique for solving real-life problems without creating new problems.