Silverington - Personal Strategies


William S. Dockens III, PhD
Born May 19, 1936 on a racially segregated ward in a Baltimore Maryland Hospital in U.S.A., the statistical likelihood of William S. Dockens III (Bill) earning five university degrees and becoming a consulting mathematical psychologist would be very small indeed. Add the facts that his father was a professional boxer, his mother a housewife and he was to have a younger brother in about a year. These negative odds become almost astronomical when life in a tough Cleveland Ohio ghetto, boxing lessons from the age of three and a nation that was almost continuously at war are counted along with the fierce competition for university places during and after a war. But if you knew about his parents, William S. Dockens Sr. and Thelma M., most of the odds seem in their son's favor.
At 14, Thelma graduated number two in her high school class. Before her sons reached teenage she first become a secretary, worked her way through night school and graduated with honors from Western Reserve University in Cleveland. At 87 she is now a retired principal and has served as foreman on the grand jury. William Sr. (one of 13 children, deceased at 90) held professional championships in three weight classes and used the money to pay for his education as an engineer. Not wanting his two sons to have to wear "the crown of thorns" of a boxing champion, he stressed culture and sacrificed to see to it that his sons had an advanced university education. He held Karamu House up as an icon, but boxing metaphors dominated his speech and personal philosophy. He died at 90, retired Asst. Commissioner of Culture, Parks and Recreation for the city of Cleveland. Life as the teenage son of two, unusual, university educated government bureaucrats gave young Bill great advantages that would have been missed by most conventional statistical approaches. And there were things about Bill that would multiply his chances to the point of making his present resume a near certainty.
Taught by his father to box, from the age of 3, and by his mother to read, from the age of 5, William was to show the advantages of both. When the audience in his grandfather's church laughed at the 3 year old reciting a poem for them, he stopped, demanded that they not laugh, and continued. He learned to play chess at 7, was admitted to art classes at the Cleveland Art Museum when he was 8, and after reading his mother"s university text (with the help of a dictionary) he decided to become a psychologist when he was 10.
Ten was a Renaissance year. A friendly librarian taught Bill to play chess at a level terrifying to his father's friends who often engaged in games for low stakes. He was placed in a special class for gifted students, but after a couple months skipped a year. The consequences were that Bill, who was 1½ years ahead of most students his age, had to share classes with many students who were as much as two years behind and not happy about it. The usual bullying of nerds was not an option in Bill's case, but he had to learn and invent techniques for fighting gangs.
Until his second year in junior high school, Bill's family rented an apartment in a large house owned by Thelma's father. Rev. Sawyer, a strict and respected Baptist minister, made a comfortable living, from his church, teaching at a local divinity college, but mostly from real estate. Bill's father was often away on boxing tours during the early part of Bill's life. So Dr. Sawyer and his wife, Minnie, took care of Bill while his younger brother traveled with his parents. A very deep bond was formed. Dr. Sawyer had a deep intellectual influence on both Bill and his father.
Some aspects of Bill's life in the ghetto were typical, some very unusual. He played football and baseball with other boys; fell in love with the girl next but often preferred to stay at home with a dog as his constant companion. He read comic books, Greek mythology, his mother's university psychology books and a complete dictionary from cover to cover. Using his father's Larry Adler album he taught himself to play classical harmonica well enough to give public performances. And there was his grandmother's magnificent Georgia style cooking and lovely flower and vegetable gardens.
Things changed radically when his father became a lower level bureaucrat and his mother became a school teacher. The family moved to the edge of an exclusive Cleveland suburb. Having his own room, better schools, their first new car, all appealed to his parents. For Bill, going to junior and senior high school in the new neighborhood was both a cruel academic necessity and an emotional disaster. He still boxed regularly with his dad and brother but had far fewer physical fights. The people in the new neighborhood were very aggressive, but the aggressiveness did not focus on survival, the way it did in the old neighborhood. Status was still status, material things still material things, but there was something that felt very false.
These would be very dark years indeed. There was no room on the newly manicured lawns for the dog that had guarded their property and been Bill's constant companion and ally in combat with gangs. From the undisputed smartest kid in the school he became just another student, shinning only occasionally when as when his drawings placed first and third in the city wide scholastic art show, and when he ranked first in his science class. Otherwise his mediocre to poor performance in the all important classroom was a constant source of dread and irritation for Bill's parents.
Grades improved only marginally in high school. Though he read constantly and borrowed books from the libraries what he read did not improve his school performance. There were no psychology classes, none at all in social sciences. The only teachers Bill pleased were the head of the military training program, the head of the biological laboratory and an occasional English teacher. All teachers had access to Bill's high IQ scores and were therefore not at all sympathetic to this "under achiever". For two years running middle distance on a John Adams track team that was twice state champions stood between him and anonymity. There was even a bit of fame and notoriety when Bill surprised everybody but his parents and his neighbors when he played a classical and flamenco guitar solo on the local TV station. Vicente Gómez's records and hours of daily practice had magically turned noise into music.
A score on the college entrance examination that ranked in the upper quarter outweighed high school performance ranked in the lower quarter and Bill was admitted to Ohio State University where he would major in pre medical sciences and psychology. Middle distance running was the only link between the person described in Bill's high school year book and the person in the university year book. The dark years reading his father and mother'conversations about politics and administrative problems all combined to help Bill win many campus elections. Mathematics that had been a major problem in high school suddenly became interesting and understandable as it opened the doors to physical theories of relativity and quantum mechanics and the psychological theories concerning game theory and conflict resolution. Embryology and comparative anatomy also had great influences and he inspiring teachers helped him discover new secrets about the English language that had permitted him to escape to amazing worlds during the drab environments of the dark years. The classical and flamenco guitar earned him the friendship of a flamenco dance pair who introduced Bill into the artistic and literary circles on campus.
Though not really outstanding, his college record got him accepted to graduate school and later medical school. His faculty advisor and the professor of experimental psychology at Howard University helped and inspired him. Bill was transformed from "psychology nerd" to a traveling scholar who sought out special teachers and studied in their laboratories. After Howard, seven universities contributed significantly to his education and experience.
During and after his education he met a spectrum of challenges. First in Honeywell Inc. biotechnical laboratory where he worked on psycho physics problems connected to a NASA space project. Cases he received while holding a university staff position were dangerous as well as complex. For example, he was consulted by colleagues from another university when shooting broke out between staff and psychopath patients on a criminal ward at a mental hospital. The same university saw fit to also apply his services on less violent wards. A challenge in a psychiatric pharmacology department was so complex Bill temporarily took over the leadership of two narcotic wards. Individuals with family problems, crisis management problems and with problems of motivation also found his services useful. Learning problems of cows at an agricultural university was among the most unusual and most interesting.
The most complex problems by far were those his former students encountered. It was while dealing with these that Bill noted that many complex psychological problems both for individuals and groups had something in common. They involved a failure to integrate. After studying integration problems from a government's perspective, integration problems from the perspective of an immigrant cultural association he turned to corporate problems with Information Technology. In 1996 publication of his theoretical work on integration attracted international attention on both sides of the Atlantic. Russian mathematical psychologists invited him as honored speaker at the world international psychological conference held in Montreal and United States General Systems people invited him to attend a conference in Austria that sought a unified theory of information.
Much of Silverington's strategy is based on Bill's integration studies (Elements) that suggest that there are five, fundamental perspectives from which to consider integration. Regardless of perspective, whether to integrate or not is not an option. With everybody forced to integrate, it will most likely be the rate of integration will determine survival of organizations in the first part of the 21st Century. Consequently organizations staffed by integrated people who plan and reason from an integrated perspective should enjoy a considerable advantage.

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