Mental Models Exercise LO9992

Marion Brady (
Mon, 16 Sep 1996 10:32:31 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO9930 --

Woody Davis says:

> We are currently offering a training course for our managers to
>them to the characteristics of a Learning Organization . . . and
>I am looking for a
>stronger experience (exercise) to lead into the
>discussion about assumptions. I
>would appreciate any ideas.

No easy task, this. As I've said several times before on this
list, "a fish would be the last to discover water."
In my work, I'm concerned primarily with "deepest-level
assumptions," the ones that guide all thought and action within a
particular society rather than those most relevant to business and
industry. However, I've spent a lot of years thinking and talking about
this with students, and can say that I think I've had the most success
using brief scenarios.
Suppose, for example, that I want to raise middleclass American
students' levels of consciousness about their society's assumptions about
ownership. I might say something like this:

"It's Christmas morning. The three kids--13, 11, and 10, are up
before dawn. They hurry each other downstairs and switch on the lights in
the family room. A shiny new bicycle leans on its kickstand beside the
tree. All three rush over to read the tag hanging from the handlebars.
"Merry Christmas," it says, "from Mom and Dad to the kids."
What'll happen? Why?

Dreaming up the scenarios is easy. Breaking through one's own
assumptions sufficiently to find a plot for one isn't. My list of what I
consider to be the dozen or so assumptions that guide about 99% of human
thought and action has come primarily through reading the views of and
conversing with societal "outsiders." Awareness comes either from
contrast (as in the above example), or from the identification of patterns
(e.g. the frequency of recurrence in classified ads of some version of "Be
your own boss," or the shared characteristics of models used in television
(Incidentally, the "bicycle" scenario came to me from a classroom
discussion in which a Middle Eastern student from a wealthy family said
that, back home, members of his family took whatever car happened to be in
front in the driveway, that there was little or no feeling of "his car,"
or "my car.")



Marion Brady <> <>

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