Spirited Debate on LO LO6705

Granade, Ben (bgranade@customcpu.com)
Mon, 15 Apr 1996 15:22:12 -0800

Replying to LO6683 --

I heard a wise man say that there are two kinds of people in the world;
those that divide people into two categories, and those that don't. The
application of this wisdom to the continuing postings about debate on this
list is that I believe the positions taken reflect a polar difference in
the intended use to be made of the learning attained. My opinion is that
Spirited Debate hones learning skills that are best used in confrontive
and/or competitive situations and Reflective debate hones learning skills
that are best used in cooperative and/or contemplative situations.

I have seen what I consider to be the epitome of spirited debate in the
debriefing of fighter aircrews following mock air-to-air combat. The
language is blunt and often brutal, but the learning curve is steep...as
is has to be to survive in that environment...and narrow. The skills
learned in this environment are not easily transferred into other
endeavors, but generations of fighter pilots continue to try and lead
organizations the same way they train wingmen. This model also created
many of the command-and-control style organizational structures that we
live with today.

I have also seen reflective debate wonderfully employed in matters of
faith in the United Methodist Church where issues are decided based on the
quadrilaterals...reason, tradition, experience and scripture...a method
that requires opening yourself up to other points of view and then taking
prayerful and meditative soak-time to let the answer come. The best way to
think of this is like Michael Valentine Smith's idea of Grokking something
in its fullness. (ask any sci-fi junkie, or read Stranger in a Strange

With the changing nature of leadership and management in organizations,
with the growing acceptance of learning organizations, intrapreneuring,
co-opetition, self-directedness, participative leadership, coaching
executives and all the other myriad forms of interpersonal organizational
behavior, I believe the skills I most need are the ones that are more
reflective. I need to unlearn most of the lessons that spirited debates
taught me. I need to be able to truly listen to the ideas that this list,
and other forums, present. I need to hold these sometimes conflicting
ideas in dynamic tension like some form of management koans, and to let
solutions flow from their interactions. This idea of creative tension is
more productive to me than the concept of spirited debate. Rick, your
skillful moderation has created what I consider to be a model in this
rapidly evolving medium. Thanks Much.

BTW...another geographically gratuitous comment...I am also from Atlanta;
a child of the South enjoying the absence of sand gnats and copperheads in
my long Alaskan summer days.

Ben Granade, CQA bgranade@customcpu.com
Management Analysis Officer (907) 343-4554
Municipality of Anchorage, Alaska

If you're not having fun...you're not doing it right!


bgranade@customcpu.com (Granade, Ben)

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>