Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Kurt Westergaard — Free Speech (large)

Several weeks ago we reported on the establishment of the Westergaard Foundation. Shortly afterwards, the Foundation launched an initiative to sell signed prints of Kurt Westergaard’s “Free Speech” watercolor to raise money for the support of artists whose right to free expression was under threat.

Hans Erling Jensen created an excellent business model for selling the prints. He thoroughly understands viral marketing on the internet, and the involvement of prominent Counterjihad blogs in the effort would have provided significant international exposure and guaranteed a large volume of sales. Offering the bloggers a commission while they served a good cause assured their willing participation.

Unfortunately, Hans did not have the final say in how things would be done at the Foundation: that was up to the Board of Directors. Not long after the launch of the initiative, the Board had second thoughts, and shut the viral sales program down.

Henrik Ræder Clausen Europe News has written a brief explanation of what happened:

Goodbye to the Westergaard Foundation
by Henrik Ræder Clausen


It was with great fanfare that the Westergaard Foundation was announced on May 2nd, 2011. Unfortunately, significant internal trouble developed immediately afterwards. Here is a short roundup of what happened, and why the drawing is no longer available for sale at an international network of blogs, as was the original intention.

The concept was simple and attractive:

  • Kurt Westergaard created an original watercolour painting entitled ”Free Speech”.
  • Signed prints of the drawing could be purchased for €100 apiece, affordable for most everyone interested in supporting Free Speech.
  • An international network of blogs would carry the banner and a PayPal link, so that the readers could easily order the print. A raw list of some 50 blogs was to be the initial network.
  • The seller’s blog would receive a €30 commission for promotion of the Foundation.
  • The remaining €70 (minus a small handling fee) would go into the Foundation.
  • The Foundation, in turn, would use the funds to award prizes to artists in need of support due to what they have expressed, providing both publicity and money for the artist.

The press conference on May 2nd was well attended, with Hans Erling Jensen, Erik Guldager, Kurt Westergaard and Farshad Kholghi presenting the project. The presentation took place at Galleri Draupner in Skanderborg, Denmark, owned by Erik Guldager.

The same evening Erik Guldager and Kurt Westergaard presented the project on Danish national television, in four-minute segment displaying the painting and describing the project in a nutshell. The presentation was recorded and immediately translated into English by volunteers, to promote the Foundation internationally.

As a consequence of the television appearance, public interest soared. Unfortunately the web sites behind the project were not yet operational: The Galleri Draupner web site did not have the PayPal link up, the Westergaard Foundation web site was not online — and at the time of writing still isn't. As an emergency measure, to accommodate all the incoming orders, a redirect to Eticha, the home page of Hans Erling Jensen, was established. 198 prints were sold between May 2nd and May 5th, after which Hans Erling no longer had access to follow the sales stream.

In the week following the press conference, the following sites featured the banner and the PayPal link selling prints of the Free Speech painting on May 5th 2011:



Many other web sites had expressed their interest, but were awaiting further information or PayPal codes. It is worth noting that neither Galleri Draupner or the Westergaard Foundation web sites had the banner up, in spite of Galleri Draupner being the first to receive the necessary PayPal code after the account had been established on April 28th.

At a meeting on Friday, May 6th 2011, the board of the Westergaard Foundation (Erik Guldager, Kurt Westergaard and Peter Andersen) decided to change the strategy of the Foundation. Hans Erling Jensen, whom Erik Guldager had charged with organizing international sales, was not invited to the meeting. In a statement sent to Hans Erling Jensen, Erik Guldager stated that since, ostensibly, only 3-4 sales outlets had been established, that the original premises of the project had thus not been fulfilled, and for that reason a wholly new strategy had to be adopted by the board. Notably, no expectations for the number of sales outlets had been published in advance.

Under the new strategy, only Galleri Draupner is to have the Free Speech drawing up for sale, and all other sales outlets were to terminate immediately, and no later than Monday, May 9th 2011, after which any sales made would not be honoured. However, the sales outlets were not informed by Erik Guldager, who has made no public statement about the change of strategy, even after repeated requests by contributing volunteers that Erik should explain the changes publicly.

As for the sales already made: Due to the Westergaard Foundation and Draupner web sites not being ready at the time of launch, Eticha carried the bulk of the sales immediately after the May 2nd press conference. Hans Erling Jensen, owner of the Eticha web site, expects that the promise of a 30% share of the sales will be honoured by Erik Guldager, and states that all of this money will in turn be applied directly to an international forum promoting and defending Free Speech, in line with the original intention of the Westergaard Foundation.

If you have purchased a Free Speech print, we recommend that you:

1) Verify that it arrives in a timely manner. Orders are currently being honoured, all prints should be in the mail within a week.
2) Make sure the print arrives in good shape, as there have been some reports of suboptimal envelopes for the prints.
3) Follow the Westergaard Foundation web site to stay up to date on how the money generated by the sales is being applied. At the time of writing, at least 200 prints have been sold. Deducting the 30% share for the seller, this leaves € 14,000 in the Foundation. This would enable the Foundation to award decent prizes to relevant artists in the name of Free Speech.

During the preparations for the launch of the Westergaard Foundation, Erik Guldager received support and contributions from many volunteers, above all Hans Erling Jensen, but internal correspondence has made it clear that only Erik Guldager and the other two board members have the right to act on behalf of the Foundation. For this reason, any correspondence, questions and complaints should be directed to Erik Guldager of Galleri Draupner (erik@guldager.net), as he is at the moment the only responsible representative and sales point of the Westergaard Foundation.

In sum, the initially announced international Kurt Westergaard Free Speech campaign is no more, and the banner has been taken down. We expect that Erik Guldager will document the number of sales, in particular those made from May 5th up until today, and pay out the promised 30% bonus to all blogs involved, including Eticha.dk.

11 comments:

Zenster said...

This is really sad news. Muslims must be crowing in delight to witness such disarray within the Counterjihad and, even moreso, among the ranks of Westerners in general.

This disunity of purpose and overall lack of coordination bespeaks a fundamental vulnerability which Islam milks like the last cow on the farm. That the West is so easily exploited by an entity like Islam ― whose internecine violence and disharmony is nothing short of legendary ― bespeaks a truly dismal situation.

I dread to consider what will be required so that Western civilization finally is galvanized into some semblance of cohesion. In this manner, our internal fragmentation ― combined with Islam's ossified recalcitrance ― predicts a catastrophic outcome for one or both parties.

The Counterjihad's singular goal must be to ensure that Islam is the sole recipient of that calamity.

Dymphna said...

Zenster--

Conflict is an absolute inevitability. One can try to avoid the obvious pitfalls, but no one gets to traverse his course of life w/o running into other people's agendas (or fouling the lines of one's own aspirations.

Here's my take, using a Case Study Method pov:

IIRC, Harvard Business School originally developed the Case Study Method to demonstrate more clearly the discrete steps which lead to success or failure in business ventures. In this approach, students dissect a corporation's venture & via hindsight, they learn from the particulars which comprise each outcome how to avoid the pitfalls so demonstrably obvious after the fact.

Perhaps some graduate business school will take this example as a model of failure, dissecting its pertinent parts for the enlightenment of future business people. Here, they may learn just one of the diverse ways in which one ought NOT to proceed.

Based only on what we can see in this post -- and I don't have any "secret" info -- it's a mixture of:

(1) Defective communication. Recall Peter Drucker's famous business management aphorism here: communication is the act of the recipient.

(2) A failure of consensus ahead of time to draw up the SOP (standard of operating procedure) for the venture, and more importantly,

(3) A consensus among all parties as to what would constitute a Plan B in the event of serious conflict. Conflict is inevitable & should always be anticipated.

(4) A lethal, but common mistake: wresting control from the expert.Hans Erling Jensen appears to be the ONLY expert at virtual marketing in this group. I'm don’t know Farshad Kholghi’s background, but Mr. Westergaard is an artist who doesn’t appear to be able to maintain a competent website (though we have no information as to why this is so), while Mr. Guldager is a gallery owner. That position requires that he be good salesman, but virtual marketing is a qualitively different field of endeavor.

4(a). Due to the decisions of the other players to lock out the expert—decisions obviously taken in numerous communication triangulations (see #1) – the others are left with... well… it looks like they’re left holding a bag labeled “Catastrophic Fail”.

5. It’s commonly understood, once you've done a number of these case studies, that the need to control, particularly when it originates from the top, is *the* lethal management dysfunction. See #4(a). And communication chasms always open up in such an environment; see #1.

Dymphna said...

However, Zenster, I concur with your feelings re this mess: more than anything, it's simply sad.

Even as an academic exercise, the residue is usually sadness. When you work on one of these case studies as a group, that is often the consensus in the aftermath of a study of failure -- i.e., the sense that the loss was so utterly unnecessary. However, that's simply human nature when you're in the fog of conflict. When you're doing a Case Study, you're God and can so easily perceive maddening human frailty.

Mr. Jensen's crucial value to the project was obliterated. His own success at selling the product may have been his death sentence, who knows?

At any rate, control reverted to people who have no savvy re the virtual market. However the need for control appears to have trumped the desire to succeed. Ironically, though, it succeeds on one level: whatever the long-term failure of this project (and a severely diminished ability to sell their product is a foregone certainty) the overriding need for control was satisfied and the fear level dropped.

Never overestimate the need for control as a spoil factor. It arises from a sense of scarcity which is derived from the fear "there won't be enough for ME". Look at it this way:

Fear of not having enough ->
->Sense of scarcity ->
-> Wresting of control->
->Failure of project->
->Project blame for the failure onto the scapegoat ->
->Regain sense of security ->
->Until Next Time -> ->
->Wash, rinse, repeat ad nauseam, ad infinitum eternitatum.

If you want to see how this works itself out even after death, read a few hundred Last Wills and Testaments.

First Case Study Method for Failure: Adam & Eve.
Most Commonly Know Failure: Scrooge McDuck

Is it any wonder someone devised the theory of Original Sin to explain this mysterious chasm in the human heart?

Whenever we given into our own sense of scarcity, we're setting up a FAIL...

Zenster said...

Dymphna: (1) Defective communication. Recall Peter Drucker's famous business management aphorism here: communication is the act of the recipient.

As the Abolitionist, Fredrick Douglass, so pertinently noted:

"To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker."

Lately, there seems to be all sorts of problems sorting out legitimate "hearers" as opposed to those who hail from among the ranks of the perpetually offended.

Dymphna: (3) A consensus among all parties as to what would constitute a Plan B in the event of serious conflict. Conflict is inevitable & should always be anticipated.

The need to upset Islam's applecart is so glaringly obvious whereby failure to attain unanimity in pursuing that goal should be seen as an undeniable indicator of incompetence or ulterior motive. (In this particular case, ulterior motive seems to be the culprit.)

If it is not so already, the need to fight Islam tooth and nail must become this new century's ultimate no-brainer. It is as self-evident, if not moreso, as the adoption of automobile transportation over a horse and carriage.

Those who refuse to be part of the solution will soon enough find themselves being viewed as part of the problem.

Dymphna: However the need for control appears to have trumped the desire to succeed.

Let's see how long that crap lasts, much less goes on being tolerated, when Islam comes knocking in earnest.

We've already seen enough discord sown by various Counterjihad prima donnas, much to our collective loss.

Basta ya!

Dymphna: Whenever we give into our own sense of scarcity, we're setting up a FAIL...

I'll get back to you with my own views on that little gem after a period of reflection.

My immediate response is that this sort of conflict is generated by a scarcity of genius and not any scarcity of opportunity.

Dymphna said...

Zenster--

Conflict is a GIVEN. Only utopian liberals think we can live in some version of "peace". The thing is, peace isn't a condition, it's a dynamic process requiring balance, humility, and the willingness to listen. It's a path, not a place at which we ever arrive.

And how well any of us listens is a function of our emotional maturity. Mostly we don't listen...we just wait for our turn to interrupt.

One year I decided to make "Listening Well" my New Year's resolution. What a dumb idea. I should have labelled it "Beginning to Understand How Listening-Impaired I Am"...

...still working on it. But conflict? Always and everywhere. A grown-up cleans up his mess and moves on. Or he cuts his losses and moves on...it all depends on who's messing and what's being lost.

At any rate, all God's troubles ain't a Muslim, Zenster.

In this here particular case, with the loss of that wonderful project, there wasn't a Muslim in sight, nor a liberal to be seen. It was Counterjihad infidels all the way down.

And that's a crying shame.

Zenster said...

Dymphna: At any rate, all God's troubles ain't a Muslim, Zenster.

Amid my own well-known tirades against this world's corruption and tyranny, where has it ever been obvious that Islam is the sole culprit with respect to the toxic environment of our planet?

All the same, please do not think that Muslims are exempt from shouldering a huge portion of the blame for this world's problems.

Nonetheless, corruption ― in its many and splendorous manifestations ― remains a central driver for much of this world's ills.

That Islam is a nexus for this rete of global pathology is nothing more than a given amongst the short-form library of what continues to poison our world's progress out of the Stone Age.

Zenster said...

Major Hint: Let's stick with "sad".

craigenr said...

Although I visit here often I rarely, if ever, comment, but I had to weigh in on this. As an academic I have seen many such conflicts. (The joke in academia goes "Why are fights among academics so acrimonious?" "Because the stakes are so small!")

I have observed a pattern to such conflicts, and I see it happening here. I must add that I know none of the individuals or organizations, and only a couple of the websites, involved; Except that I support the anti-jihad and pro-free speech causes I have no dog in this fight.

Here's what I observe: this is completely typical of the friction that arises with incomplete communication among supposed collaborators. It is so easy, by excluding one person in a key decision, even when the outcome is not particularly aimed at them, to set smouldering a flame that will consume all parties.

Those of us who only have your blog post to go from obviously have inclomplete information. If we take it as a complete breakdown, then I will say without reservation that it was a serious error to exclude Hans Erling Jensen from that board meeting, even if he normally would not be present. Even if the purpose of the meeting was to deal with problems caused by his actions or inactions, or perceptions that he was handling his responsibilities incorrectly. He should have been present to (a) have opportunity to defend himself against any perceived personal attacks; (b) achieve transparence for a key individual -- even if that individual was in disagreement with the action; and (c) to foster an ongoing trust relationship -- this is key to navigating the difficult waters of conflict resolution among strong-minded individuals working together for a common cause.

The only situation in which I could see excluding this person from that meeting would be one in which he had engaged in outright fraud or criminal behavior, or had acted to subvert the goals of the group, betraying the trust of the others and so relinquishing any rights he had in the matter.

When in doubt, err on the side of transparency and inclusion among allies -- or risk turning allies into potential enemies.

Hans Erling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hans Erling said...

And I can tell you Carigern, that there was no such causes involved - about fraud! I believe, that the cause is about, that the Anti-Jihad is not was KW want. He wants to distance himself from that, Muhammed drawings and all that - which of natural courses is impossible, and his "main man" Erik Guldager, does not know how how to do that in a straight way because he knows all the involved. But he, got the order. And the used a "legal" reason!

For one week any of os havent been in contact with the board - they simply dont answer!I feel i disgusting, that people do not stand up an try to solve things.

They ought to so things could be archived. I mean.

Hesperado said...

Per Dymphna & Zenster:

1) Disagreement among collaborators is unavoidable for imperfect humans.

2) Endeavoring to work within such disagreement for an optimal ultimate effect is therefore healthy.

3) Back to #1: #2 will most likely be a bumpy ride, and fissures will most likely develop.

4) The tendency to try to achieve a purist agreement, or process without conflict, is unhealthy, and ultimately will tend to cause more problems than the disagreements and conflicts that arise.

5) Stop worrying about what will embolden Muslims. They will do what they do whether we show internal disagreements or not. The more important point is to hone the best strategy.

6) Back to #1: Honing the best strategy will inevitably involve disagreements. In fact, disagreements are often useful in the process of fine-tuning and optimizing one's strategy; while trying to get there without conflict is often ultimately self-defeating. Such purism also tends to cause more internal problems (such as the Spenceresque exploitation of "Mr. X is helping the Enemy by disagreeing with Me" -- a rather effective way of ostracizing one's fellows and ironically sowing more not less internal discord; to the extent, that is, that one falls for it).

Further Reading:

Healthy Disagreement