It is not uncommon for someone to ask me how I view something because they believe I will have a unique take, perhaps something they had not considered. What did you think of Avatar? How do you think about health reform? And so on. And those whorled Viewz cartoons! Where are you getting them? What do they mean? I enjoy it when I am asked questions like these. It makes for wonderful conversations.
A few years ago I struggled to put together an operating paradigm from which I work and think and try to develop useful insight–the stuff that feeds how I see things. What follows may be a little heady, but it is how I view the world and work to develop practical tools for personal wisdom and organizational development. While I am open to adjusting and revising my presumptions and believe it unwise to have many presumptions at all, I can’t help but have a few. Here is my best attempt so far to put a basic four into writing:
That there is an interested and engaged Mover behind all things (metaphysics).
That every layer of knowledge revealed exposes more layers for discovery and wise use (epistemology). This assumption stands solidly in line with the writings of Norbert Wiener, cybernetics’ founder, who was fond of saying that the researcher should not assume final knowledge of anything.
That this life is precious and brief and rewarded in a life to come (ethics).
That the human life is best lived in community that appreciates what it has been given and intends to contribute welfare to the generations to come. However, selfishness and greed often interfere(anthropology/civilization/marketplace orientation).
And if you want a little more explanation . . . . . .
Simply put, I think reality – whether objectively defined or subjectively created – is a system of cause and effects in which humans are both influenced and bring influence. These systems are best understood at the macro level rather than via a more micro and deterministic paradigm. Pragmatically, however, research is conducted by humans, not by domesticated dogs or granite outcroppings. Research is often conducted in teams as well. Even when an individual works alone, they still build from what was previously discovered and will have their work interpreted by still other persons. Thus, the subjectivity of humans must be considered when pronouncing one’s convictions.
I view things a bit differently from Wiener, however, in that Wiener started with objective material in which humans make a difference. I tend to start with human constructions and then seek to quantify the realities they create. That is, while humans create language and meaning that gives rise to varied and subjective interpretations of reality, this reality can be described, experimented upon, measured, adapted, shaped and changed through a variety of often inter-related scientific and social disciplines.
So, a succinct description of my paradigm is that objective and subjective reality are equally valid, interrelated and mutually influential and that we are ultimately personally and corporately accountable for our life choices in the middle of the ugly morass. A good reason to be thankful for the grace of God! Thus, one should seek to understand subjective and objective realities as equally significant when seeking to develop knowledge — especially in the realm of business where product development and human resources exist inseparably side by side. One who is interested in fostering lasting change can accomplish more in organizational leadership where research, description, cataloguing and experimentation starts with the human equation and then moves to objective measures.
-mark l vincent