The Corporate Fool
The Corporate Fool

The Corporate Fool

David Firth, Alan Leigh, and Ian Pollock
Full Title
The Corporate Fool
Last Highlighted
May 16, 2023 11:56 PM (CDT)
Last Synced
June 8, 2023 1:11 PM (CDT)

Well, the Fool operates by four principles. Principle 1 is: The Fool is an outsider.

The second principle is that The Fool sees things as they really are.

The Fool, outside, without the lenses on, looks at the world around him and sees the truth. Sometimes he just provides a “blinding glimpse of the obvious.”

The third principle? Fool: ​Which is that The Fool is honest.

Professional fools are recorded from the 5th dynasty of Egypt until well into the 18th Century, and are found in societies as diverse as the Aztecs of Mexico to the Alps of Austria, from the Heoyka of the Dakota Native Americans to the household imbeciles of Rome.

The office of the licensed Fool was one of considerable dignity.  Some were permanently attached to a court - John Heywood with Henry VIII, Kunz von der Rosen with Maximilian I of Austria. Others wandered about, like Italy’s legendary Fool Bertoldo and India’s Muladeval.

When Shakespeare wrote Twelfth Night, As You Like It and, ultimately, King Lear he signaled a shift from an earthy stage fool, born of the tradition of deformed inadequates, towards a sweeter, wiser Fool, who was, of course, no fool. This is a Fool that we can use constructively. This is a Fool who can add value.

Suddenly, in the midst of a sacred ceremony, a person enters and pisses on the fire... The Lakota Indians also called their Fools - the Heyoka - by another name: the Thunder Dreamers. They held the Heyoka in high honour and respect, believing them the bearers of enormous power - capable of shape-shifting, invisibility and transmutation into other forms of energy. They believed that if need be, the Heyoka could move mountains.

The Heyoka-Fool makes boundaries explicit by crossing them; demonstrates the meaning of order through showing us disorder. Most important of all, the Heyoka-Fool reminds us that in in the flux of the world, nothing is infallible.

Part of our task will be to persuade the privileged that it makes good commercial sense for them, too, to work for a more human and liberated regime. That the new economic realities of the information age will reward divergence and imagination over conformance and tradition.

Who is on the outside of organisations? Consultants hold that key position and share the outsider’s benefits with the Fool. Consultants may not be cleverer, wiser, better qualified or better able. They are just outside. They’ve got a distance from the problem.

The Ten Roles of The Corporate Fool The Alienator, representative of otherness The Confidante of the King The Contrarian, challenger of the norms The Midwife, generator of creativity and problem-solving The Jester, entertainer and 'umorist' The Mapper of knowledge The Mediator of meaning The Satirist, deflator, pricker of pomposity The Truthseeker, teller of the truth The Mythologist, maker and breaker of myths

The Fool is the Vice President in charge of Being Other.

If only CEOs had a vent for their private thoughts - however dark, poorly motivated or politically incorrect they are - then they may not have to worry spouses with them at night. And, maybe, if he could express these thoughts, he could move more quickly to saying what he really means or making the decisions that he really needs.

The Fool uses two methods to advance thinking through opposites: the Socratic and the dialectic.

The other method used by the Fool is the dialectic: or the advancement of ideas through their opposites.

Native American people embodied this form of oppositional logic in a fool character called the Heyoka. The Heyoka would attend all tribal meetings dressed and behaving oppositely to the rest of the elders. If they sat, he stood. If they asked for silence, he spoke. He was a right royal pain in the arse, to be frank. His value in terms of the dialogue, however, was as a representative of all other possible points of view that might be neglected. Every idea was challenged, every decision questioned, every suggestion reconceived as alternatives. In other words, the Heyoka was a living symbol of every man’s potential for making the wrong decision.

But the Fool also knows that much that is good does come from cooperation - he has an instinct for when combination is the way. And then, the Fool is in charge of keeping a store of cutting-edge creative thinking and problem solving solutions: mental exercises, physical games or software packages.

The Fool is an expert in understanding and overcoming resistance to creativity. He guides and leads, explains and cajoles, and pushes where necessary.

So the Mapper-Fool puts the best people in touch with each other at the best time for the project and the organisation. This is a role he carries out when people ask him to, but also when he suspects they’d prefer him not to.

The Mapper-Fool has a good face for names; he remembers them. He gets into people’s heads, because he’s in theirs. No avoiding his gaze in the corridor, he’ll check you, ask you how it’s going, but in a specific way.

There is another side to this Corporate Mapping. A map shows us what’s there and how the parts can and should relate to each other.

So much good humour is lost through risk aversion. So much that might be inspiring or affecting is hidden because people are afraid of how others might judge them.

His audience inferred that things must have got really bad to merit such a thing and that there was probably more to it than was presented. Which introduces the manager to another of the great corporate communication paradoxes: “the more you tell, the more they think you’re hiding.”

The Mediator-Fool keeps a table of discrepancies between what was meant and what was understood - and why. He records the problems and confusions

The Satirist-Fool is the Official Spokesman for the Opposition He has a formal place responding to major corporate speeches to present a sort of “official reply” as they do with the Budget speech in the UK and the State of the Union in the US.

The truth is a complicated area, but only because our attempts to disguise or suppress it make it so. The truth has its own simplicity and it endures.

The applicant must have dinner with the King.. ultimately this is not a choice that can be delegated - only pre-screened?