Acts of humility and kindness don’t change political reality, however

Life can be beautiful, mais oui!

Individual acts of kindness cannot change complex geopolitical reality.

At the age of 68, I know that I have no ability to influence political reality in my country, which has overdosed on right wing expansionism cum Messianic nonsense.  And it is not to be ignored that the middle east neighborhood in which we live  is violent, tough, cynical, frightening, fragmented and driven by not only my country’s messianic mania, but also the dangerous religious beliefs of our enemies which feed on the crumbling of their civilization.

Allon with too much sun screen and a happy lad

So, what is to be done? Politically, nothing can be done by the individual. Both sides get the leadership they deserve and wallow in shit.

Once, I tried to be politically active but failed. I have no patience at all, and no tolerance whatsoever for religious beliefs, ours nor theirs. And here in the Middle East, don’t dabble in politics without god at your side.

So looking for something I can do,  I have volunteered to accompany Palestinian kids to the beach every week in the framework of Min El Bahar, which means ‘from the sea’ in Arabic.

El bahar-the sea

The dedicated women (and some men) of Min El Bahar bus Arab Palestinians from the occupied West Bank to the beach in Tel Aviv, where they swim, eat sandwiches, watermelon and icy-icy, and then on to Tel Aviv-Jaffa harbor, to go for a boat ride, subsequently returning to the west bank in the evening. This happens every day, Sunday to Thursday during the summer months. (Thursday is my day).

Icy icy

When they arrive in Tel Aviv, the kids and their parents are shy and watchful  at first. But we all  end up playing ball, splashing one another with water, learning the basics of how to float, swim and play ‘one man out’ in the water.

Each week, I am literally reduced to tears by both by their happiness and by the joy I feel by  giving. These acts will never change middle east reality. But it sure does make me a bit more ‘ok’  with myself as someone who lives under a government whose messianic  polices I detest.

And many thanks to the brave women of Min El Bahar.





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What lies behind discouraging team work?

I have yet to meet a CEO or C level manager who does not  claim to espouse team work among his staff and between various disciplines or functions.

As a matter of fact, improving  teamwork serves has often served as a prime motivator for commissioning the services of an OD consultant.

Yet the very same senior managers who verbally espouse teamwork often sabotage it, willingly and unwillingly. They do so by using measurement systems which maximize sub systems, encouraging escalation of problems far too early in order to expedite speed of decision making,  and/or put up with and/or don’t terminate very poor team players who happen to perform well in their roles.

The reasons for verbally espousing teamwork whilst simultaneously discouraging it are many. I will point out the reasons that I encounter most frequently.

  1. The senior manager believes that teamwork may form a coalition that serve as an opposition to his\her power. (I recommend Paul Theroux’s latest book Mother Land which hilariously illustrates this dynamic in family life)
  2. The senior manager  believes that teamwork is ‘great ‘ as long as it does not slow things down.
  3. The senior manager believes that teamwork may compromise outputs of sub units by creating too much synergy-driven compromise.
  4. The senior  executive believes that high performance is more important that interpersonal teamwork skills, and can be compromised when all is said and done.

My advice to eager beaver young consultants who peddle teamwork seminars (perhaps using a model for which they have a licence to pedal ‘solutions’) is that the best medicine is confronting senior managers with the gap between what they say and what they do. Because in the end, when organizational\managerial behaviour as well as  systems support teamwork, teamwork actually happens.


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