Schlagwort-Archive: Understanding

One-sided reasoning

Just as things go wrong on a large scale, for example, the Berlin Airport or the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, every project runs into the danger of overshooting the set conditions. The control of projects is always a gamble on the shoulders of the project leaders due to the many influencers, the rarely defined power structures, and the vague specifications. They may have the mandate to hold the steering wheel in their hands, but the steering angle is severely limited by the stakeholders’ diverse and even conflicting concerns. In the end, project managers are the executing, extended arm of the contracting parties, who micromanage vital decisions. The most significant burden is primarily the fuzzy requirements that keep changing over time. However, to simplify the management of the initiative, leaders do not try to identify and consider the essential factors. They conclude based on simple-minded contingency*.

*”Contingent is something that is neither necessary nor impossible; what can be as it is (was, will be), but is also possible in other ways. The term thus denotes what is given (what is to be experienced, expected, thought, fantasized) with regard to possible otherness; it designates objects in the horizon of possible modifications.”
(see Social Systems, Niklas Luhmann)

The description of the situation becomes one-sided when only one cause and one consequence are considered. While it is impossible to identify ALL influences and effects, the blinkered shielding of adjacent possibilities inevitably leads to delays and other disadvantages. In overcoming the limited viewpoints, the following aspects will help.

  • Overcoming Maslow’s hammer
    With the growing labor division, the law of the instrument has emerged – i.e., if someone has a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When looking at a project, the financier sees only the monetary, the buyer the procurement, and the HR people the personnel aspects. The decision-makers have the whole picture in mind. However, they are also driven by their priorities – e.g., to generate savings, build reputation, and get through the week without stress. For overcoming one’s bias, the mindset supports Anything is possible. To find the given possibilities, it helps to let go of what is taken for granted, question existing structures, and think without limits.
  • Describing the focal point
    The starting point for the treatment is the printable situation description. It is always good to focus on one issue, otherwise, the solution will be diluted or even impossible. If, for example, the focus is on a project delay, then the generalized discussion of the deficits in the project work is of no use.
    In addition to the factual points (i.e., where happens, what, when, how, and who is involved), we recognize by the stakeholders’ intentions, who have different influences on what is happening what needs to be monitored. With their description, the project leaders show their mental states through the formulations and emphases – e.g., what is important to them; what they dislike; what they need.
  • Understanding, not analyzing causes
    The likelihood that a concrete situation will result from a single cause is low. Usually, several circumstances are involved. However, the law of the instrument dictates that causes are sought only within one’s domain. Although these limitations are clear to unbiased observers, decision-makers are driven by the need to take care of situations. This is best done by assuming a monocausal case. Solving one cause does not eliminate the problem.
    Even if not all causes will be identifiable, it is crucial to take the risk to look beyond one’s nose since neighboring causes contribute to the issues. On the one hand, the look through the functional glasses is recommended: e.g., development, procurement, production, and selling and, e.g., personnel, accounting, and IT. On the other hand, considering the influences of technology, culture, organization, and economy provide additional leverage points for clarification. In any case, you must not analyze the particular areas, i.e., putting them in-depth under the microscope. It is enough to understand the causes.
  • Anticipate consequences instead of elaborating in detail
    Due to the affected areas and the various stakeholders, several consequences are always to be expected. However, since the actual effects do not appear until the future, we can only guess the effects. Here again, Maslow’s hammer impacts, which leads to the fact that we only see developments in our sphere of influence – e.g., the financier only finds monetary (dis)advantages.
    Since the future is only manifesting later, you should not cross your bridges before coming to them. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to anticipate the neighboring consequences. To be able to react to significant futures, we develop scenarios with possible upcoming circumstances. These alternative designs of the future make statements, for example, about companies, people, business development, available technologies, the development of the economy, society, and the environment. Again, the aim is not to provide detailed descriptions but to anticipate adjacent consequences so that they are not ignored.

Bottom line: The key message of this article is to respond to a difficult case with multi-causal solutions that take advantage of existing possibilities. We never deal with simple cause-and-effect relationships. Our perception is an additional burden due to the Maslow hammer that prevents from seeing more than we usually master. A tricky situation always has multiple causes and generates many consequences that we do not have in mind. To conclude unilaterally does not offer approaches but creates trigger for follow-up problems.

An additional puzzle piece for better understanding

The path to the completed presentation does not begin with the scheduling or the elaboration of a topic or the preparation of the documents. The beginning lies hidden in a time when the interest in a subject area evolved. Eventually the lecture takes place in front of an interested audience. The contents are tailored to the occasion, formulated, visualized and equipped with suspense. The posture, facial expressions and gestures as well as the tone of voice during a lecture underline the relationship of the speakers to their presentation. And between the lines you will find the speaker’s intentions, regardless of the topic – an additional puzzle piece for a better understanding.

Even if this part of a lecture is often covered by the show and the contents, the audience unconsciously perceives these aspects. Presenters should be aware of what they intend to do in advance, to package their facts appropriately. By consciously observing this space in between, the audience is offered more clarity regarding the intentions of the lecture. Thanks to John Searle, there are five generalized speech acts that reveal the expectations of the speaker.

  • Statement – Saying, how it is
    The main purpose of describing facts is to inform the public. For this purpose, statements are formulated, which consist of numbers, data and facts, explanations and conclusions as well as arguments for or against a point of view. The view goes back to the past or describes a current situation or predicts future developments. You can confirm, correct or deny assertions.
    Saying, as it is, conveys circumstances from the speaker’s point of view to the audience.
    Examples: argue, assert, communicate, conclude, correct, deny, determine, disprove, inform, predict, report
  • Solicitation – Saying, what to do
    Presentations can be used to motivate the audience to act. A wide range of (in)direct impulses is available for this purpose. They range from the allusion, the recommendation and request to the command. Restrained speakers will make subtle hints. A piece of advice offers meaningful outcomes that someone only has to take and realize. In order to make its wish clearer, the listener’s insight can be appealed to or even asked for support. The next step is to clearly delegate or commission certain individuals.
    Saying, what to do, indicates the tasks to be completed.
    Examples: admonish, advise, allow, ask, call, command, demand, forbid, invite, order, persuade, plead, request, suggest, threaten
  • Commitment – Saying, what you’re doing
    A powerful propulsion convey messages that show what you are willing to do. These commitments are later observed by the audience, in order to check the speaker’s credibility against his future acts. Promises can be assurances or threats.
    Saying, what you’re doing, and adhering to it, is a powerful tool for directing large groups.
    Examples: agree, announce, assure, bet, commit, confirm, ensure, guarantee, insure, offer, pledge, promise, serve, swear, vow
  • Psychic condition – Saying, how you are doing
    The expression of one’s own feelings offers the opportunity to make emotional contact with the audience. These messages are less processed by the audience with reason than with the sixth sense. The whole range of emotions can be found here: from sad to happy, from disappointed to satisfied, from angry to joyful. The content can discredit or praise someone. You can complain about facts or being thankful for them. That way it is possible to communicate your state or to apologize for something.
    Saying, how one is doing, has a subliminal effect and, in a positive case, promotes cohesion.
    Examples: apologize, approve, blaspheme, cheer, compromise, condone, congratulate, defame, express condolence, glorify, greet, lament, mock, praise, scold, thank
  • Declaration – Saying, what is officially valid
    The announcement of formal messages determines, what is fixed from that moment. This may involve the proclamation of new rules or contracts, the dismantling or filling of a position or the release of a decision. It may refer to external or internal circumstances.
    Saying, what is officially valid, announces realities that are formally established.
    Examples: abdicate, appoint, baptize, cancel, dismiss, outlaw, pardon, release, resign, suspend, trust

Bottom line: In addition to contents and presentations, the intentions form an additional puzzle piece for interpreting circumstances – the intentions hidden in the messages. Just as in any description, Searle’s five speech acts are also included between the lines of each dialogue: statement, solicitation, commitment, psychic condition, and declaration. The speakers and the audience can use these patterns consciously for their own purpose. The lecturer ensures that his desired intentions become visible. The listeners use the conscious look at the wording for recognizing the intentions of the speaker on the basis of the verbs used. This provides all participants with an additional puzzle piece for a better understanding of expressions.