Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 16th, 2016

Deadly game of poker? What is ‘this nonsense in the Syrians plight?

We knew the more peaceful we were, the more violent the government would be

In pre-2011 Syria, the word “revolution” never had a positive connotation in my head.

The military coup in which the Ba’ath party took power in 1963 is called a “revolution” in Syrian school curriculums. One of the three state newspapers was called Revolution.

The word was associated with the dysfunctional, bureaucratic and backward state Syria was – and still is.

Then a man burned himself alive in Tunisia. A revolution broke. The government was ousted.

Egypt had its revolution. Then Libya and Yemen.

All of a sudden, the word revolution obtained this new, beautiful meaning for me. It made so much sense; a Syrian revolution was surely inevitable.

Amid the anticipation for change, Syrians were sure of one thing – if this does not go well, it will go really, really badly.

Everyone knew what the Syrian government was capable of and willing to do to maintain power. Haunting stories of Hama massacres in the 1980s circulated secretly. Government brutality was common knowledge.

We thought: “We’ve got this barbaric regime that we’re trying to get rid of, we need to protest. The government is probably going to portray protesters as traitors out to provoke a civil war.”

The Syrian regime has always kept things just under boiling point, so when something like a revolution breaks out, it can easily turn it into an armed conflict. Something to be fought and won.

We knew the government would want to make things look extremely complex, so no international force would be keen on intervening, and may even prop up the status quo. We knew the more peaceful we were, the more violent the government would be.

It was a horrifically simple equation: enough of us would have to die before the rest of the world did something to help. I guess we had watched too many American films.

It was a gamble, and we didn’t have a good hand.

But taking in to consideration what happened in Libya, we felt lucky. The Assad regime being, unlike us, well versed in the reality of international politics, called our bluff. You know the rest.

Today, after five years of whatever the past five years have been, I find it very difficult to keep myself concerned with what’s going on in Syria.

I find it absurd that some people still identify as Syrians.

Statistics and numbers don’t help either. The Syrian Centre for Policy Research published a report on conflict in Syria – war has killed 470,000 people. The rest of the world and us seem not to agree on the definition of the word “enough”.

Meanwhile, the Assad regime is still allowed to continue war tactics from the Middle Ages. Besieging hundreds of thousands of civilians in their own neighbourhoods and villages. Starving them into defeat, dropping barrel bombs on them on a daily basis, and occasionally gassing them to death. While the rest of the world is busy discussing whether Islam is an evil religion in its nature or not.

The certainties, values and beliefs that I was made of have completely shattered. I think that would apply to many other Syrians today. Wouldn’t that explain the torrent of refugees who are trying to get as far as they can from that poker game they have so magnificently lost?

Note: The Syrian regime called the bluff in 2012 when it decided to let the regular army confront the opposition forces at the expense of diminishing Assad power and his clan.

Clients want you to feel proud signing your work: Milton Glaser’s rule

Milton Glaser’s rule

There are few illustrators who have a more recognizable look (and a longer productive career) than Milton Glaser.

Here’s the thing: When he started out, he wasn’t THE Milton Glaser. He was some guy hoping for work.

The rule, then, is that you can’t give the client what he wants.

You have to give the client work that you want your name on. Work that’s part of the arc. Work that reflects your vision, your contribution and your hand.

That makes it really difficult at first. Almost impossible. But if you ignore this rule because the pressure is on, it will never get easier.

Posted by Seth Godin on February 11, 2016

Loose/tight, thoughts on management

If you have a pad of Post-Its, a watch or a car, it’s unlikely you hired and managed a team of people to build it for you. That makes no sense. You knew exactly what you wanted, and you bought a finished product that met spec.

If you do online banking, payroll or even printing, you’re doing the same thing. The people at those institutions don’t work directly for you, instead they provide a service at arm’s length.

So why hire employees?

Sometimes, the work is so custom, we can’t easily outsource it.

Sometimes, the work is so time critical or location dependent that we need a staff person here and now.

But mostly, we need the insight and judgment and leverage that employees bring us. All of us are smarter than any of us, and adding people can, if we do it right, make us smarter and faster and better at serving our customers.

It can’t work, though, if you insist that the employees read your mind. If you have to spend as much time watching and measuring your team as the team spends working, then you might as well just do the work yourself.

Effective post-industrial organizations have overcome this hurdle by differentiating between the loose and the tight.

Tight control might be appropriate for items like: promises kept, or how we treat our customers, or financial rigor.

Loose principles, on the other hand, might be applied to the way people approach problems, communication methods or less standardized matters like setting and tone.

We fail if we misjudge what ought to be tight. And we guarantee frustration when we’re unwilling to let the humans we hire be humans.


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