Monday, September 06, 2004


Vaccination means dealing with a serious threat by creating and injecting (or disseminating) a feeble and attenuated version of it.

Someone sent me a notice about a conference called The Joy of Work - about management and spirituality - with a tongue-in-cheek comment suggesting he thought it was dangerous. For my part, my heart sank at the thought of all those earnest and jovial people, waffling knowingly about spirituality in a five-star hotel at some fancy Mexican resort. (Nice work if you can get it, though.)

Such conferences are packaged to make them as undangerous as possible. Business is a complex self-healing system, perfectly capable of neutralizing any really dangerous ideas, including spiritual ones. Let's send a few maverick middle managers off to Mexico to be vaccinated - infused with a weak and warm teabag spirituality - so that they will become immune to the real thing. They can then return to their organizations and spout pseudo-spiritual jargon, which in turn increases the resistance to dangerous ideas within these organizations.

Vaccination works by educating and exercising the immune system. A network security manager might try and persuade staff NOT to open weird email attachments by disseminating an extremely weak software virus -- perhaps one that does something mildly annoying and embarrassing -- Code Pale Pink perhaps.

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