Collusion Levels


These are the levels of collusion in the “collusion of mediocrity” model. Each level can be experienced on its own, and one or more level can be operating at the same time. The labels are deliberately provocative to get the brain cells buzzing! I’ve hinted at resolutions for each level, but these are only mentioned briefly in this article.

  1. Fake niceness
  2. False Revelation
  3. Diluting
  4. Reverting and Fading



Level 1 Collusion FAKE NICENESS


At this first level, comfort is sought at the expense of honesty and risk of discomfort. A superficial “niceness” exists and it is not a norm to show any extremes of emotion, thought or deed. The status quo of safety is secured at a price. Potentially uncomfortable things are left unsaid. Problems of “papered over”. In the restaurant where we might be dissatisfied we tell the waiter, when asked, that the meal is “fine”. We do not wish to “rock the boat” or to “muddy the waters”. We tend to dilute problems – real problems – down to a “storm in a tea cup”. We never get too positive either, too excited over a good outcome. Excellence and joy are diluted down to pleasant “okayness” or “niceness”

Level 2 Collusion    FALSE REVELATION


At level 2, we break the collusion of level one and surface what is really going on, even at the risk of discomfort. We go wild with praise where such wild praise is due! We call things by their real name where such things are causing problems which need to be honestly named. A catharsis often occurs as things come out into the open. But then we stop there, often with a big sigh! We say: “Well now that was a fine thing. We got everything out in the open” in the hope that saying it will be enough. However, nothing is done as a result. The ritual of honesty is seen as the end point, more than enough for us o bear. Soon everything settles again and the same problems occur or the good and bad practice is neither built nor improved upon. In some ways the sudden openness is so traumatic that it paralyses us into inaction!

Level 3  Collusion    DILUTING


At Level 3 we stand on the threshold of change. Things have been truly named – we know what needs to be done. We have named the state of affairs and all is out in the open. The issues have been surfaced. And then, we falter. We embark instead only on the smallest, easiest change, often under the guise of “taking little steps”. Often incremental change is the right course, but not as a collusion or a delaying tactic. Not as an avoidance method! Instead of changing the system that needs to change, we simply tinker with the current one. We take a small jump when a large leap is required. The result: the change identified with honesty, the catharsis experienced, falls at the first hurdle. Collusion level 1 kicks in and we say – “We’ll we’ve done well to come so far”. Yet the potential was so much greater.

Level 4  Collusion: REVERTING AND FADING


Here we begin to make the change we need to make, no matter how daunting. However, there is no follow through and soon things revert back to their former state. Even honest, dramatic change requires perseverance and here the lack of follow up leads to things running out of steam. Momentum is lost and no one challenges this. Defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. (Sorry – there was a mistake in my earlier comment. Please delete and use this one. Thanks. Jack)

    Hiya Paul. Just to let you know: Level 2 Collusion REMEDY: HONESTY, SURFACING, NAMING – this should read Level 1. As you know, I’m a big fan of your Collusion of Mediocrity work, and have included it in the glossary here: Best wishes, Jack

  2. I like the stages of attempted change and points of failure (all too true). Not sure about the remedy for Level 4 – is this fear of consequences of reverting? Four is the hardest stage – would be great to have a more motivating sounding remedy.

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