Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Mastermind

The Mastermind behind the success of French Revolution: Chaderlos de Laclos

Posted on October 23, 2014

Pierre-Ambroise Choderlos de Laclos (1741-1803) is famous for his book “The Dangerous Liaisons“. Many considered him a scandalous writer at par with the marquis de Sade or Restif de la Bretonne.

Very few knows that he was the mischievous brain behind the French Revolution that managed to clench victory and ripen its fruits.

Chaderlos de Laclos was the mastermind behind the massive women march from Paris to Versailles.

He figured out that unless the center of power (King and Constituent Assembly) transfer from Versailles to Paris then the revolution might falter.

Chaderlos de Laclos incorporated famous women who used to organize orgies such as Theroigne de Mericourt, and most importantly, transvestite men carrying weapons for the next phase of the march purpose.

As the women marched, the initial slogan was “We want bread“.

Actually, Chaderlos convinced his patron Duke Philip of Orleans to refrain from distributing wheat in Paris for a couple of days to give the impression that the King is failing in his duties. Duke Phillip of Orleans hated the King and the Queen and believed he was better for that position. He is better known in French history as “Equality Phillip

The King received a delegation of women and promised them to distribute wheat and bread immediately.

The women stayed overnight outside Versailles and the next day the slogan changed to “We want the King in Paris”

The transvestite men with weapons managed to infiltrate inside the Versailles walls and committed a slaughter hood of the surprised guards and almost broke inside the King and Queen quarters.

The King had a wake up call and decided to pleasure the masses and return with all his family to Paris.

La Fayette (the general who participated in the American revolution) was chief of the National Guards and secured the safe passage of the King to Paris.

From then on, the king and his family were practically prisoners to the revolutionaries and unable to leave Paris.

Born in Amiens, Chaderlos , as the second son, was destined to the sacerdotal. Luckily for him, the first son died and Chaderlos could join the military career. He opted for the artillery since he was excellent in math.

He slowly climbed the ranks due to lack of real battle engagements and was promoted Captain in 1771

For the next 17 years, he was still captain, but he took several sabbaticals in order to finish his book.

He married Marie-Soulange Dupre in 1786. She was 24 and he was 42. This was a love marriage that endured and they got 2 kids.

In 1788, after quitting the army, he sided and joined the party of the Duke of Orleans in Paris.

When La Fayette summoned the Duke to go to exile in London on temporary basis, due to his involvement in the women’s march, Chaderlos joined the Duke in exile.

Chaderlos would be promoted General by Napoleon in 1800 and he died of dysentery at Tarente. He was quickly buried in a common grave .

A few maxims of Chaderlos:

1. Hate is more clairvoyant and more ingenious than Love

2. I was taken by surprise to notice that we can feel pleasure by doing good deeds

3. Our ridicule increases proportionally the harder we defend it

4. For him, pleasing is a means. For her it is success itself

5. For man, infidelity is Not inconsistency

6. In love, we can permit excesses only with persons we plan to leave very soon

7. Nature extended constancy to man. And obstinate tendency to women

8. I love her too much to feel jealousy. I have taken the option to be proud of (her foibles)

9. A missed occasion can be recaptured. We never return after a precipitated demand (of marriage?)

10. It is good to accustom someone destined for great adventures by him getting the habit for great events.

Read: Gonzague Saint Bris “La Fayette”

Another Trap? Open-Office
 posted in The New Yorker this Jan. 7, 2014

THE OPEN-OFFICE TRAP

In 1973, my high school Acton-Boxborough Regional, Massachusetts, moved to a sprawling brick building at the foot of a hill.

Inspired by architectural trends of the preceding decade, the classrooms in one of its wings didn’t have doors.

The rooms opened up directly onto the hallway, and tidbits about the French Revolution, or Benjamin Franklin’s breakfast, would drift from one classroom to another.

Distracting at best and frustrating at worst, wide-open classrooms went, for the most part, the way of other ill-considered architectural fads of the time, like concrete domes.

(In 2005, following an 80-million-dollar renovation and expansion, none of the new wings at A.B.R.H.S. have open classrooms.) Yet the workplace counterpart of the open classroom, the open office, flourishes: some 70% of all offices now have an open floor plan.

open-office.jpg

The open office was originally conceived by a team from Hamburg, Germany, in the 1950’s, to facilitate communication and idea flow.

But a growing body of evidence suggests that the open office undermines the very things that it was designed to achieve.

In June, 1997, a large oil and gas company in western Canada asked a group of psychologists at the University of Calgary to monitor workers as they transitioned from a traditional office arrangement to an open one. The psychologists assessed the employees’ satisfaction with their surroundings, as well as their stress level, job performance, and interpersonal relationships before the transition, 4 weeks after the transition, and, finally, 6 months afterward.

The employees suffered according to every measure: the new space was disruptive, stressful, and cumbersome, and, instead of feeling closer, coworkers felt distant, dissatisfied, and resentful. Productivity fell.

In 2011, the organizational psychologist Matthew Davis reviewed more than a 100 studies about office environments. He found that, though open offices often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.

Compared with standard offices, employees experienced more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation.

When David Craig surveyed some 38,000 workers, he found that interruptions by colleagues were detrimental to productivity, and that the more senior the employee, the worse she fared.

Psychologically, the repercussions of open offices are relatively straightforward.

Physical barriers have been closely linked to psychological privacy, and a sense of privacy boosts job performance.

Open offices also remove an element of control, which can lead to feelings of helplessness.

In a 2005 study that looked at organizations ranging from a Midwest auto supplier to a Southwest telecom firm, researchers found that the ability to control the environment had a significant effect on team cohesion and satisfaction. When workers couldn’t change the way that things looked, adjust the lighting and temperature, or choose how to conduct meetings, spirits plummeted.

An open environment may even have a negative impact on our health.

In a recent study of more than 2,400 employees in Denmark, Jan Pejtersen and his colleagues found that as the number of people working in a single room went up, the number of employees who took sick leave increased apace. Workers in two-person offices took an average of 50% more sick leave than those in single offices, while those who worked in fully open offices were out an average of 62% more.

But the most problematic aspect of the open office may be physical rather than psychological: simple noise.

In laboratory settings, noise has been repeatedly tied to reduced cognitive performance. The psychologist Nick Perham, who studies the effect of sound on how we think, has found that office commotion impairs workers’ ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic.

Listening to music to block out the office intrusion doesn’t help: even that, Perham found, impairs our mental acuity. Exposure to noise in an office may also take a toll on the health of employees.

In a study by the Cornell University psychologists Gary Evans and Dana Johnson, clerical workers who were exposed to open-office noise for 3 hours had increased levels of epinephrine—a hormone that we often call adrenaline, associated with the so-called fight-or-flight response.

What’s more, Evans and Johnson discovered that people in noisy environments made fewer ergonomic adjustments than they would in private, causing increased physical strain. The subjects subsequently attempted to solve fewer puzzles than they had after working in a quiet environment; in other words, they became less motivated and less creative.

Open offices may seem better suited to younger workers, many of whom have been multitasking for the majority of their short careers.

When, in 2012, Heidi Rasila and Peggie Rothe looked at how employees of a Finnish telecommunications company born after 1982 reacted to the negative effects of open-office plans, they noted that young employees found certain types of noises, such as conversations and laughter, just as distracting as their older counterparts did.

The younger workers also disparaged their lack of privacy and an inability to control their environment. But they believed that the trade-offs were ultimately worth it, because the open space resulted in a sense of camaraderie; they valued the time spent socializing with coworkers, whom they often saw as friends.

That increased satisfaction, however, may merely mask the fact that younger workers also suffer in open offices.

In a 2005 study, the psychologists Alena Maher and Courtney von Hippel found that the better you are at screening out distractions, the more effectively you work in an open office.

Unfortunately, it seems that the more frantically you multitask, the worse you become at blocking out distractions. According to the Stanford University cognitive neuroscientist Anthony Wagner, heavy multitaskers are not only “more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli” but also worse at switching between unrelated tasks.

In other words, if habitual multitaskers are interrupted by a colleague, it takes them longer to settle back into what they were doing.

Regardless of age, when we’re exposed to too many inputs at once—a computer screen, music, a colleague’s conversation, the ping of an instant message—our senses become overloaded, and it requires more work to achieve a given result.

Though multitasking millennials seem to be more open to distraction as a workplace norm, the wholehearted embrace of open offices may be ingraining a cycle of under-performance in their generation: they enjoy, build, and proselytize for open offices, but may also suffer the most from them in the long run.

Maria Konnikova is the author of “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.”

Photograph: View Pictures/UIG via Getty.


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