Re: Forming a Group LO2760

Bill Mitchell (
Tue, 12 Sep 1995 07:48:37 -0500

Replying to LO2738 --

>Forgive me, because I have zero context for these comments,

I always struggle with providing enough context. Too much and I may
unintentionally encourage you into my set of assumptions and it also makes
the help less useful to others on the list. Too little and it is difficult
to provide valid help. Some more context may help.

I work in a strongly hierarchial organization that has some of the same
problems as most bureaucracies. One of the problems is the inability to
explore problems in a group context. We typically yield to the "Subject
Matter Expert". So in setting out "my" assumptions up front I am trying to
challenge their thinking and begin to open a door that does not open very
often. It is questionable whether I can even help the people to see the
value of assumptions up front or whether, as you suggest, we should
"learn" through action. Given the interaction of the group up until now, I
am tending toward your line of thinking - although personally I tend to
learn a lot by thought - in addition to action and review. Hence the
deliberate nature of my thoughts.

Unfortunately the problem is not even close to discrete and we are going
to have to guess out how best to decompose it. Add to the mix that it is
a strategic planning project so that it will be years before some parts of
the decisions are implemented. We will definitely learn much about the
problem as we go along but the long delay until implementation will make
some of the learning more difficult.

>Everyone talks about "examining assumptions", on the assumption that they
>come first in the process. This is just our western predeliction to believe
that >thought always has to precede action.

That is certainly one explanation of what is happening although I would
hesitate to state it as certainly as you do. I "hear" a condemnation of
thought before action that I do not support and I hear a definitive answer
to a problem much too complex for such a definitive answer. Would you
accept that both thought before action and thought after action are valid
learning patterns?

Another thought: it would be helpful for me to have some rigor in my own
thought so that as the learning opportunities come I can detect them and
understand some of the potential assumptions that should be present and
are not. Does that make more sense?

> It takes experience to change habits and mindsets, not ideas:

I don't think that I agree with this statement. I have personally
experienced and observed changes in people from causes other than
experience. Perhaps this is an "eastern predeliction to believe that
action always precedes learning". :.) Ideas and visions, when they are
powerful enough are tremendous forces for change - even before they are

Thanks for your thoughts!

Bill (Bill Mitchell)