Kaleidoscoping & Doing Your Shadow Work

Kaleidoscoping is a pattern recognition exercise. You seek to decipher the meta-process at play. You endeavor to discover the archetypal nature of what’s moving through the systems you are observing.

Here is a kaleidoscoping exercise (written originally during October 2008). The process zooms into one field and looks to identify a pattern and recognize its potential in other fields.

What is the significance of the great deleveraging of Wall Street?

The last two decades brought a rapid growth of financial derivatives.  Derivatives are side bets. You buy a bet on what a stock will do – will it go up or will it go down. A second degree bet is a bet about the bet. It is no different from gambling, only instead of Las Vegas it was centered on Wall Street. The pyramid of bets evolved into a 60 Trillion dollar mountain of bets. The pile of bets that people ‘bought’ was mostly purchased as a debt. This means that buyers paid a dollar to take a 20 or 50 or 100 dollar loan with which to bet on a bet that someone else made.  The game was given a free unregulated ride. It propagated a shadow banking system. There was no open transparent exchange. The bets were made between two parties, over the counter. It was shadow banking because the transactions were not made in the light of an open exchange – they were made in the shadow.

The great deleveraging is a process of unwinding the bets. The collapse of Leman Brothers triggered an irreversible process. It was a disaster waiting to happen as the mountain became overwhelming.  What started on September 15, 2008 was the clearing of this great shadow. A dramatic free fall dives in the stock market followed. The pattern suggested in this description is the shadow work needed to heal the system – the shadow in this case being derivative bets.

Metaphoric Kaleidoscope thinking then asks: What is the shadow work we need to do at a personal and organizational level?

Shadow work is the process of removing all that is not fundamental and core to the system. Clearing what has no intrinsic value. It is a process of coming back to basics. If this represents a bigger pattern at play, then people and organizations ready to adapt faster to this process will be in a stronger position.

You dare to ask “why?”; “Why is this needed?”; “What value does it add?” You help the system clear what is not essential. You do the “shadow work” to undo “weak bets”. You focus on basics. You support what is core. You communicate proactively. You lead.

© Aviv Shahar

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