Thursday, September 26, 2013

An Essay, a Rant, and a Note of Caution

You may belong to a Porsche club of some kind. If so, I hope that it is run in a manner that promotes enjoyment for every member of the club, including those who work to keep it going. Sometimes good fun becomes elusive for those trying to make the club work (without the general membership noticing anything at all), because of errors and excesses that may arise in the club's operation from time to time. Yes, in part the following is based on direct observation, but my reading on this subject has also allowed me to expand my comments further. If you wish to contribute to the job of keeping your club running on an even keel, please consider the advice below.
People find happiness in many things, and in the world of Porsche, significant rewards are available via social interactions that arise from, but do not necessarily directly involve ownership, care and feeding of vintage cars, racing, or similar. People also enjoy getting together for pleasurable reasons that involve food and drink, casual conversation, beautiful locations, and, hopefully, these experienced in agreeable weather. Others enjoy DE days, rallying, or Auto-X, and all of this is fine. Someone has to do devoted work to arrange such events; it's normal.

And, some people have more capability with certain types of events than do others. This is normal, too, so the job of producing varying activities obviously falls upon many different people. As well, keeping a Porsche club's managerial structure functioning involves a variety of tasks, from taking meeting minutes, to waving flags in a racetrack's corner. A lot of people are entrusted with assorted duties, and when given that trust they naturally want to do well.

But when anyone interrupts this reasonable chain of events in order to impose inessential, or even inappropriate directives, the whole structure begins to break down, because when people are no longer entrusted with undertakings that they genuinely are happy and able to do, they feel diminished and lose interest. It just doesn't work.

Such a drive to exert power (especially meaningless power) is not an essential part of the world's natural order. It is part, only, of human ego in its negative sense, but human ego is not part of all of nature. Here is an excellent example illustrating these concepts from a unique perspective. It's not a Porsche thing, but it's fascinating:

A recent experiment was performed on an African savanna using a herd of antelope in the wild. Concealed automatic cameras observed the herd for some time, and special interest revolved around the movement of the animals from their feeding grounds to their watering grounds some distance away. The timing of this movement is critical. If the herd - and it had to travel as a complete herd for protection - moved to the water too early in the day, then some individuals would not have enough time to finish eating and would receive insufficient nourishment. If the herd left too late, the drinking would extend into darkness, making individuals vulnerable to predators.

The cameras observed that a single animal would stop grazing and face toward the water source, though it was remote from the feeding location. Then another, and another; when exactly a majority faced the water, then the entire herd would move off toward the water, together. The herd was not led by a powerful alpha male, but by those who first perceived the need to drink, be they juveniles, females, elderly, or other non-alpha males.

In other words democracy, not demands of those who were powerful, was the natural structure and order describing the critical timing of seeking water.

This phenomenon has since been observed in creatures ranging from insects to great apes. Power does not dictate. Power exists for specific, limited functions among animals, but it never controls the needs and actions of the many. Democracy is built into the natural order, it is not a human invention.

There is a modest disconnect between this marvelous exposé of democracy in the general natural world where power is never abused, and the observations written here about questionable management where it is almost always abused. But, in the human case, the reasons are complex and many, but they are avoidable. In nature this is less the case, and in any instance respect for the needs of others is central and critical.

Not everyone is driven to attempt complete control, but there are unfortunately some who are, and it appears that we are stuck with them. In circumstances like car clubs this is dysfunctional, pointless, and divisive. For example, nothing works well in an organization when someone seeks total control over proceedings that are better tended to by the capable individuals whose normal job it is to do them.

I have made this essay as generic as is feasible in the interest of addressing the broadest possible audience. After all, there are a great number of publications written over decades - within the realm of Porsche clubs alone - that describe and decry the means by which club chief officers can destroy the spirit of a club, rather than build it. Add this to that list.

All of which is to say that in a circumstance where one person presents him/herself as the indispensable center of everything, when there are able people waiting and eager to work, beware. You need good people to successfully run a Porsche club, but they will flee from a person like this.

You own your Porsche in order to have fun. If you belong to a club, make sure that it employs this idea for all who are involved.

To the right is the heraldic coat of arms of the state of Baden-Württemberg, in the southern part of Germany. That's where Stuttgart is, and that's where the head offices of Porsche are located.

No comments: