The Parable of the Triangle and the Ellipse

by Paul Marko, Ph.D.

A certain amount of delight can be found in seeing natural patterns emerge that signify the triumph of human dignity, creativity and cooperation over the forces for involution, as wielded by governments and authoritarian structures everywhere. One of these undeniable and seemingly unstoppable patterns that signify positive changes coming on the horizon, as humanity takes back its humanity, is illustrated in a personal story that I call the triumph of the Ellipse over the Triangle. This natural and almost unstoppable impulse for mankind to cooperate toward a common goal and group benefit, eats away at the traditional, hierarchical, command and control, top down, pyramidal, authoritarian structure of the outgoing Kali cusp era whenever it gets the chance. Replacing it with a more egalitarian and humane pattern that I think could be characteristic of how people will manage collective affairs in the upcoming ascending Dwapara. In this parable, I symbolize our inborn tendency to cooperate and participate as the ellipse and, of course, the triangle is the symbol of the top down structure of oppressive authority.

Since probably sometime in the beginning of the descending Dwapara Yuga, the shape of the typical organization has been basically the same – the triangle or pyramid. Power and information originated at the top, (originally as divine edicts of the King, and more recently the divine right of democratically selected tyrants,) and chosen pieces of this power were temporarily handed down to the next layer of divine minions. These few directed the next level down in the triangle, and that level, sticking strictly within the confines of the directives from the layer above, commanded the next level down, and so on. Orders were handed down from layer to layer until those at the bottom, the workers, had little or no power over their own actions or authority to do anything but follow orders and obey the directives handed down. An incredible control structure that allowed a very few to control, suppress and manipulate mankind.

This hierarchical structure features compartmentalization of information and actions, direct individual accountability and a competitive structure that forced the many to compete (ruthlessly on many occasions,) with one another to survive. (Remember Darwin and the limited resources, only the strong survive, blah, blah.) Upward mobility, if at all possible, represented the only escape from the drudgery of carrying out directives and bowing to authority. Even that avenue of flight remains blocked for most, as more and more minions brutally compete for fewer and fewer positions, as they attempt to ascend higher into the pyramid, only to find more imposition on their lives. The triangle affords continuity of action because each individual was expendable (actually no individual was an individual – simply a position) and this structure facilitates a very few controlling a vast number. Secrets and covert actions, which are always a feature of this type of organization of authority, could be tightly kept quiet, unveiled only on a need to know basis. In addition, the triangle allowed one organization to subsume another organization, allowing these types of structures to reach monumental sizes. This control structure currently allows the hierarchy of the psychopathic forces for involution to control most governments in the world, all corporate media and other private organizations dominating every aspect of modern life.

In my opinion, the concept of overarching authority and the triangle structure exists today as a relic of an era hopefully quickly passing, an idea, once perhaps useful to mankind’s evolution, that human consciousness is beginning to find unbelievably cramped and confining. While working as a trainer and coach in large international businesses and governments for 30 years, I have watched another structure eat away at the powerful authority pyramid and feel that this new structure, that I call the ellipse, will play a major role in collective activities as it becomes increasingly obvious that the hierarchical organization, authority and statism no longer feels right for the times. Like a shoe that no longer fits, or a school that has nothing more to offer, the triangle with all of its secrets, bruit power and control may soon be no longer needed – thank you! Yes, although it may survive for a while, running concurrently with new structures until most of our species has reached a higher level of understanding, and then it will join the ranks of historical relics like the cast iron chastity belt or the refrigerator without surveillance devices.

In modern businesses, the ellipse now exists within the triangle and rubs up against the confines of the hierarchy on a daily basis. The ellipse is what I call the natural human structure of organization, where equals help equals to excel and do the most efficient and best job possible. I have watched the war between these structures for many years. Currently the triangle always wins, but the ellipse always reappears and never goes away. Like the captain of a sinking dingy, the triangle bails and bails, but the ocean refuses to stop coming aboard. The ellipse can hardly be called a structure because it appears so naturally when the time is right and moves into place organically.

I first encountered the ellipse in 1980 while working at Jack Eckerd Corporation and the unbelievable story of how it worked and how the hierarchy responded to its results, unfolded like a text book study in organizational behavior. Someone above me in the pyramid had read an article (likely in an “in-flight” magazine) on “Quality Circles” and assigned me to see if this type of intervention would work in our organization. Wanting to pick a function with easily measurable results, I went to data processing and they donated to my experiment a group of people involved in data entry. We were going to measure number of key strokes per day and see if the number could be increased by using Quality Circle (QC) principles. The basic idea of QC sounds imbecilic in any other context but in the hierarchical structure of the triangle organization in 1980s it was a radical new idea. This ground-breaking idea (exported to and then imported from Japan) was to ask the workers how they could improve – amazing concept eh? Remember the pyramid works by information flowing from the top down – not asking the workers how they could improve. Asking workers, not telling workers, constituted a revolutionary idea. A revolution that in this instance that was to be quickly put down. The women (yes, all of the workers were women) assigned to produce the key strokes welcomed me with open arms, having been largely ignored by the organization before this event. As I explained to them what we would be measuring and asked them for their ideas on improvement, the room buzzed with excitement. I assigned them to make a list of ideas that we could consider for implementation the following week and they all agreed. Base line data on key strokes already existed and I showed my “team” this measurement – which, incidentally they had never seen. Upon returning the next week, I noticed a 50% increase in key strokes for my group. This is a commonly known phenomenon in business today (but apparently not in 1980), summed up as “what you measure improves.” (Actually only with feedback) At the second meeting, my team had many ideas as to how they might gain even greater speed and improve the keystroke numbers. The suggestions presented covered all aspects of their job. Aspects that even their supervisor had no idea could have affected their work, such as seating, lighting, project assignment, training and many others. We made a plan to implement some of these ideas and scheduled a third meeting which sadly was never to occur.

The team’s improvement had made the supervisor look bad, which in turn made the manager look bad and so the QC “experiment” quickly evaporated from my to do list. At that point, I had no idea what I had done. I didn’t know that I had inadvertently injected the (dreaded) egalitarian ellipse into the (sacred) authority cascading triangle. I had, almost by accident, dared to use the ancient (and forbidden) techniques, such as universal involvement and responsibility, equal participation, open and free communication, joint cooperation to a common end and camaraderie (the elements of the ellipse) in our unsuspecting authoritarian organization. I had thrust a cancer cell into the great, western, corporate, pyramidal juggernaut, a force that forged the shape of “civilization” as we knew it and allowed the few complete control over the many, whether it is in government or big business. To me, at that time, it just felt like I had experienced one of those political mix-ups that happen frequently working in the pyramid.

My next encounter with the ellipse occurred in the mid nineties. I had taken a position working for a consulting group that installed team based environments in manufacturing firms in the US (back when the US had manufacturing firms). Process teams operated in a similar way to QC teams, in that the focus was on asking the workers how they could improve their processes and allowing a great deal of autonomy. In addition, it allowed the teams to do their own maintenance, work on safety along with many other issues and share supervisory responsibility. The idea was to remove a level of supervision (save money) and make the workers responsible for their output. The teams loved the idea and made many operational improvements, streamlined procedures and basically made momentous performance and quality gains in an incredibly short period of time – minus a supervisor. To my mind process teams had to be considered a monumental success any way that they were measured, but today true process teams are hard to find anywhere in the US.

Three problems emerged that ended the American workers’ brief encounter with the concept of process teams. First, there was a definite accountability problem between the traditions of the triangle and the autonomous, independent functioning of the ellipse. If production goals were not met, the control system of the pyramid could not easily discern who to punish or dismiss (a violent act reserved for the authorities). Second, although there was a natural free flow of information within the teams which allowed them to be able to rapidly respond, anticipate problems and solve conflicts, there was never intended to be a free flow of information up and down the ranks of the pyramid. Information, from the top down gave authority expert power in the hands of the few in control. By creating healthy process teams, I had caused a form of organizational schizophrenia – within the teams we all knew everything, while in the rest of the organization information flowed down strictly in a need to know fashion. This is an important feature of the triangle structure because in many cases if the individuals at the bottom of the pyramid knew what the folks at the top of the structure knew, (for example, plans to outsource 100,000 jobs on Tuesday or eliminate medical insurance because it no longer makes economic sense from the standpoint of the stockholders or an arrangement to sell the company to the competition and eliminate 50% of the workforce) the bottom would immediately mount an open rebellion. And third, there loomed the basic incompatibility of the two ideologies, independent action and command and control, egalitarian and hierarchical, competitive versus cooperative, profit centered versus people centered and so forth.

Thankfully, for the authoritarian pyramid gang, the third world solved the dilemma of how to get rid of the most productive and profitable factories in the country and still have their stockholders love them. The overwhelming majority of American manufacturing was shipped overseas during the nineties and the early two thousands where the minimum wage was in some cases zero and the hierarchical organizations here at home did not have to deal with process teams any longer. But, unbeknownst to most of the titans of big business at that time, there loomed on the horizon an even greater danger. This encroachment could not possibly be stopped and would eat away at the sanctity of the modern triangular corporation, all the way up to the executive washrooms. The ellipse had morphed into the ultimate and totally necessary incarnation – the project team!

As mankind slipped silently into the “information” age, the triangle reluctantly made accommodations for the latest embodiment of the dreaded ellipse. Remember, that in the pyramid the information flows from the top down and this arrangement works well in organizations that produce everything – except information. The project team could and was ideally suited to manufacture information! The newest team formation consisted of experts from various areas joined together to create possibilities and transform those possibilities into profit. The word profit to a publicly traded corporation evokes the same reaction as raw meat to a starving jackal – blind, unabashed enticement. Therefore, the dreaded ellipse found a new home in the belly of the beast. To accommodate this newest cancer, the triangle created the position of Project Manager to buffer the damaging effect of the requisite elliptical personal autonomy and creativity upon the tender, cast iron, authority obsessed, pyramidal viscera.

As an executive coach, I had the great privilege of working with many of these Project Managers. These individuals comprise some of the most gifted, dedicated and hard working leaders/followers that I have ever encountered. Greatness must have been a selection criterion for this mission impossible because the men and women in these positions walked the tightrope between sainthood and insanity on a daily basis. These god-like creatures formed a human barrier between creativity, synergy, sharing and learning and the bottom line oriented, exclusively authority driven, often inhumane, triangle. Project Managers now appear on all levels of the triangle right up to the lower ranks of executives.

Before taking authority for granted and seeing government as a deadly but necessary evil, consider my experience with the triangle and the ellipse and think again. There exists an ever growing movement throughout the world to question the necessity of governments, their inherent superimposition of authority over sovereignty and incredibly bloody history. My advice is to avoid the temptation to even compromise and say small governments may be all right; this has proven down through time not to be the case. You don’t need government (mind control) to do anything. You are an adult and can choose your beliefs in order to suit you and are helpful to those around you. Governments are dangerous, unnecessary and by surrendering yourself to an all powerful structure outside of yourself, you often also surrender morality, ethics and your opportunity to develop through independent action.

There exists a host of other mega belief memes that could be included in this list, but by looking objectively at what may seem like givens in the discussion above, you likely understand how to climb into the airplane window seat and begin to take an objective look at various memes that you are routinely expected to swallow automatically. For example, I think you should examine “isms” that you may want to believe in like communism, capitalism, republicanism, liberalism, libertarianism and so many more. Remember that they are seldom harmless, even from the beginning, and are usually either sponsored by the controllers or sufficiently corrupted by the psychopaths and that you end up being led around by the nose. Money and property ownership appear as simple concepts, but contain a litany of beliefs that must be adopted before running with these mega memes. I guess the bottom line is to attempt to keep your beliefs limited to ones that you have chosen without corruption or coercion. Beliefs that stand alone as a clearly researched and thought out expression of what you think is right. Keep in mind that the fewer beliefs that you have adopted, the fewer notions are held in your mind that could shield your ability to see clearly. The more beliefs that you claim, especially if you have strongly held beliefs, the more misled you can become. Even the beliefs that you select by yourself, that are not included in a mega meme, should be held as TUPSC (temporarily useful perceptions subject to change) and grasped somewhat gingerly, with the idea that they can be let go of in an instant if it is shown to be incorrect or you can see how this belief is allowing you to be manipulated. Free will is the aim. Free will, one from which we can climb to the great heights of human consciousness. A lofty perspective so that we can respond and not react, from which we can realize what we truly are – consciousness having a human experience.

Have fun.