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Provoke your thinking: Suppose how we see cause and effect is around the wrong way

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 28 May 2014



Provoke your thinking: Suppose how we see cause and effect is around the wrong way
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 167
Posted DateWednesday 28 May 2014 10:34 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
PeoplePeter Block

I think you may enjoy this provocative idea by Peter Block from a booklet he co-authored called Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community (see pages 13 to 15}

The shift in the world begins with a shift in our thinking. Shifting our thinking does not change the world, but it creates a condition where the shift in the world becomes possible.

Peter believes that the key change required in our thinking is to move from thinking of ourselves as the outcome of something done to us i.e. effect, to thinking of ourselves as the cause of what is happening.

So in any situation, a question to ask ourselves is "What is cause and what is effect?" "Which way around is it?" What would it mean if our way of seeing a situation was reversed. If we reversed how we saw cause and effect.

Are we the ones actually causing the situation rather than others? Are we trying to solve a problem that we attribute to others that is in reality a problem of our own making?

Did this cause and effect co-evolve - is there no right answer?

Interestingly, Peter says it does not matter if the reversal is true or not but to ask yourself which form of thinking is the most useful - which gives us the most insight and the most power. So in any situation, you don't have to believe it, just pretend that things are around the other way. What insight does that give you? What would it mean?

Here are some reversals to provoke your thinking (one or two of them especially so) - most of them Peter's but a few of them mine:

  • The audience creates the performance
  • The conversation creates the speakers
  • The consumer creates the marketeer
  • The subordinate creates the boss
  • The child creates the parent
  • The employee creates its leadership
  • The student creates the teacher
  • The future creates the present
  • The listener creates the speaker
  • An openness to learn creates the teaching
  • Problem solving occurs to build relationships

Think about it. I believe this is a powerful personal and group thinking tool. I may try to use it in someway in a future Knowledge Cafe.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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