How Open is Your Organization to a Multiplicity of Worldviews?

face front-side view

When you look at this image, what do you see? Do you see someone looking straight at you or do you see a profile — or perhaps something else even?

Take a good look. Can you eventually see there is another perspective, another view? Once it comes into your awareness, it is possible to hold both views at the same time or to alternate back and forth between both views.

Young_Lady_Old_Woman_IllusionWhat about this second image? Do you see the old woman or the young woman? They are both there. If you are only seeing one, let your vision soften and the other may come into view.

You may say these pictures are only optical illusions and bear no relevance to anything other than a bit of fun. From our Worldview work, we would say, these pictures visually represent a dynamic that often comes up in conversation, dialog or debate at work, at home and in other settings. Sources of tension and even conflict arise when an individual or a collective (group, organization, community) sees things in a certain way and are convinced that it is THE way to see the world, the issue or the challenge. So convinced there is only one true view that other perspectives are not welcomed, invited or entertained as possible. Coming from an entrenched point of view, the debate often becomes polarized and personalized by dismissing another person or their point of view, becoming defensive about our own point of view or becoming attached to things needing to be a certain way.

Much of the origin of these dynamics are hidden or unnamed. We think we can make our point by using facts, imagining that facts are immutable – and yet, the fact is there is a young woman in that picture – and, there is an old woman. If you only see one of the facts, you may do everything in your power to try to make someone else see it too. Instead of bringing curiosity to the possibility that there might be two possibly opposing “facts” that are both true, we become entrenched in our point of view. Sometimes we become identified with our point of view – another way that the argument becomes personalized.

A worldview exploration helps ascertain what the source of conflict or tension might be by an exploration of components of worldview – something in how we see or interpret current reality, historical patterns or stories that influence current reality, the way we imagine or interact with the future, all reveal something about the worldview of individuals and organizations that might help us find common ground or points of connectedness to move forward on what matters. Understanding value systems and core commitments, illuminating the practices and methods by which we bring our worldview to life individually and collectively and understanding what informs our knowledge or how we know what we know, again individually or collectively, can also provide entry points to common understanding on issues that matter to us.

What are ways that you invite other points of view, or worldviews, into your conversations? How does your organization deal with alternative and even opposing worldviews when they appear? Do you even know if there are alternative worldviews? If there are voices that remain silent when dominant worldviews are expressed, you might not even be aware there are different perspectives. How do you know if there is a dominant worldview? If there are no alternatives offered to the perspectives that are already in play, that perspective may be a dominant worldview. That might be okay and it might not, especially if it is being expressed unconsciously in the organization. Your workforce could become more progressive, more creative and more engaged when there is room to voice and work with a multiplicity of worldviews at any given time and especially on the issues and questions that are most important to the evolution, sustainability and ongoing livelihood of your organization.

11 thoughts on “How Open is Your Organization to a Multiplicity of Worldviews?

  1. […] For the most part, inattentional blindness is not a bad thing. It is habitual. It helps you navigate the world around you. It is when someone or something challenges you or your worldview that it is helpful to remember there may be more to the picture. Rather than taking up a defensive or persuasive position, it becomes a good time to invite Worldview Intelligence practices like curiosity, to listen to another person, to hear how they see the world and be willing to expand how you see the world to include more of a picture, to be more expansive and generous, rather than reductive – Worldview Intelligence practices that work equally well at work and at home. It doesn’t mean you have to change your own beliefs, values or worldview but when you can accept or acknowledge there may be other ways of seeing or experiencing the same situation, you create the space and opportunity to meet another human being in the fullness of your common humanity. When you meet in this space, it is possible to transform differences into progress. […]

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  2. […] Workplace cultures are self-perpetuating and organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they are getting. Attempts to make changes are often met with failure because of this. The stories people tell, often without thinking about them, are one way that culture gets communicated and shared in an organization. […]

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