The Tarzan Myth™: 19th century Business Methods choke 21c Success

Tarzan Myth™ Exposed

The long dirty track record of focusing on outcomes and not on “the how,” what causes the outcomes, is a sad testimony to our ability to stand firm in the face of massive evidence that what we are standing for doesn’t work.

The idea that some are endowed with an ordained knowledge that they then have to pass down to “students” who must swallow it wholesale, goes against our very nature, the way our brains are constructed. (See Thinking Fast Thinking Slow by Daniel Kahneman)

I’m not an educator, but an uncorporate consultant. The old model of consulting, like the old model of “education,” is broken: top down, command and control doesn’t work without massive amounts of energy to keep it going. It is not sustainable. The only reason I can find for why we keep pounding on it is because it is stuck in our reptilian brain. 19th century models, set up as the best they could come up with for the problems of the beginning of the industrial revolution, have nothing to do with today’s reality.

Public education, with its grades, standardized tests and rankings, was not set up to educate. Hard working teachers have tried since the beginning to nudge the system into true education, but they were always constrained. I know that because I read the editorials from the time public education was introduced, where the business community clamored for a way to get those dag-nabbed farmers to stop going fishing on a nice day, or going home when tired, and “teach” them how to sit in their factory chairs and work for 10-12 hours doing the drudge work required by 19th century industrial technology.

Top down doesn’t work. Its what I call the “Tarzan Myth™,” e.g.: there is no king of the jungle! All there really is is people trying their best to find their way to better outcomes. Lets focus on making better processes for helping people educate themselves, and for businesses to improve their outcomes.

What’s more powerful:

  • You come up with an idea for a project. You find the resources, including people, to help you learn what you need. Together you plan how, adapting to what happens as you go along and you bring it to fruition.




  • Or someone else comes up with a curriculum, figures out how you’re supposed to learn it, purposely keeps the resources away from you that may contradict them and only shows you the resources that THEY think you need and then you’re supposed to do what they tell you to do.

I went to school called the Walden school in NY, which sadly doesn’t exist anymore. It was modeled on the teachings of John Dewey and an educational philosopher from Egypt named Caleb Gattegno, who believed that the job of a teacher is to create a safe space, providing necessary resources, where people can unleash their natural curiosity: to learn for themselves. In our school there were no grades other than pass/fail, no one had to go to class, the teacher was responsible for what took place in their classroom, and classes were interchanges, a path “less travelled” but more scenic.
If what we need is to awaken the natural curiosity of people, provide great resources, and a safe space where the natural tendency to collaborate to learn: my classes on Udemy perform the first, providing resources. The rest? How can we create a safe place for interchange, and get out of the way so we can educate themselves?

The consulting model is a troubling model: expensive for the client, and for the consultant. It is based on the premise that there are people who could know more about your business than you do, how is that possible? It should be affordable, collaborative, engaging, and there should be a way that everybody can share the burden so all benefit, including the “client” and the “consultant.”

If a world where there are right-er people and wrong-er, then the McKinley and Bain’s or a standard business school MBA,indoctrinations in 19th century solutions that don’t work. If you want something better, subscribe to my site and thrive! (also get 65% off an awesome resource, my course, Understand Your Business, Earn More Money and other goodies.)

About the Author

Dan Strongin works with medium to small companies, helping them master the art and science of managing.

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