“But the whatness of this object involves its categorical interpretation; the real object, as known, is a construction put upon this experience of it, and includes much which is not, at the moment, given in the presentation.” – ‘Mind and the World Order’ Lewis
The image above from a 4-day Management Development Process, the team is working on a team-building activity called ‘Finding Balance.’
The activity uses everyday objects – nails, a block of wood, and team members. We ask teams to balance 13 nails on the head of the nail in the block of wood. Like most things in management, there are boundaries and constraints on the team and the environment.
It can be useful to have the management team work together, through shared ignorance, to solve a challenge it has never faced before.
The metaphors for senior management are rich:
- Working with shared resources in different or unique ways
- As a team dealing with the ambiguity of tasks
- Minimal organizational supports or people who have completed similar prior tasks
- A belief that the team can figure out a way to make progress
- Management team checking on progress or regress based on implementation
- Requests for granular clarity from the customer
- Customer response is not too clear and framed within expectations.
What I enjoy is how people react to everyday objects before the activity. How they view the utility of objects change through and after the application and learning.
For example, when considering the pile of materials (nails, wood), you think of your experiences with those objects and access the knowledge of how you use them and the impact on your understanding. Once you use the materials differently (balancing them, free-standing on the head of 1 nail), you reflect and alter the use and usefulness of the elements. Your knowledge of their use is biased by your past experiences of how you used them. Now you have changed (altered, evolved, enhanced, mutated??) how you view 13 nails and a block of wood. Your view is different than someone who has never experienced the materials in the same way.
Management is being aware of biases about people, process, profit, and being thoughtful to understand that your biases will be self-limiting. More than being aware, it is working to develop your wisdom and skilled-knowledge that there is no single way to achieve a goal.
The process of moving from concept to goal completion is where innovation, motivation, and discretion happens. That is what you are paid for, your ability to add value to people’s problems solving.