- a kind of virtual social intelligence, a reaching out on Group Dynamics and Human Processes at the Workplace ( http://www.workplacecatalysts.com ) .
- Foster a discretionary Presence in Groups, to enable human capability.
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Monday, February 18, 2013
If science provides critical insight, what prevents our learning from it?
What’s attitude got to do with learning?
As those who know me appreciate, it is not often
that I let a raw view on Organisation Development (OD) pass me without
scrutiny. Fatigue could tire me in patches, but, renew me when the content is
about the process of OD. Recently, on a global forum, a senior in the field
opined on the space of interaction between consultant and client. Here’s the
opening premise, “ I do believe that
optimism and idealism lead the consultant to be dismissive of
reality as seen by the client. By being with the client in the depths of
difficulty without being optimistic, just being with him, we are the enablers
of his extricating himself out...not pulling him out with our pipe dreams. Like
the Book of Job, where folks visited Job...just to be there with him.”.
rather unorthodox consultant, I was only beginning to swallow the significance
of that near meditative stance. I asked what came to my mind “Does the
skepticism of science get perceived as pessimism? Does in converse a positive psychology approach preconceive the mood of the
outcome/” Pat came the reply “Does the skepticism
of science get perceived as pessimism? Yes. Does in converse a positive psychology approach preconceive
the mood of theoutcome? -don’t
know enough and try to stay away because it is so much unlike me.”
This may mean different things to different people.
But it is worth a stop, on the lay-bye of the information super-highway...
Which way does one learn of the new winds?
Often we believe
contrary to the real content of our argument, that we stand for a value, when
in fact we do not understand the value. E.g. When a firm makes instrumental the
value of fairness, would you expect it not to honor its commitment to a
purchase expressed in writing? Well, yes they can if they do not understand the
value of fairness. If they do not realise that they have expressed a commitment
to a vendor, they would buckle in the face of a funds constraint, howsoever
imaginary or real, only to obey the norm, that they are fair in their obeisance
to their employer!
Yes, norms that are not born of a shared understanding of
values, do not make for value based practice. What chance does this firm stand
to receive feedback on how it behaves, and of course to practice a reflection
that value based practices actually demand? It is quite probable, that the same
firm also espouses the value for transparency, as the social ‘system’ is
skilled in its incompetence to understand norm based compliance from value
based response! What seals the logic that seems right within the organisation? Performance
evaluation is tailor-made to push professionals into a doom loop. The individual
will trump the ‘organisation’ for short-term gain.
The attitude to
learning is therefore a crucial piece. As Argyris first brought to our notice. What
explains defensiveness in learning? Not attitudes about change or commitment to
continuous improvement. We really want
to work more effectively.
Rather, the key factor is the way we reason about
our behaviour and that of others. We tend to hold the company or organisation
responsible in ways different than we hold ourselves responsible. Externalising
blame is an ineffective way to protect the self, for escaping responsibility is
an opportunity lost to grow – a waste in learning that often goes unchecked,
uncontested and unverified. If science provides such insight, then critical
reasoning cannot be selectively applied to problems that do not involve people!