Another week, another interesting discussion over at the Com-Prac list. Again, it was one of little immediate impact on CoP management, but it did have some relevance.
This time we thrashed what was in fact two different issues:
1. The first was about what is a personality, what is character (if anything) and the role of others in building them. The positions were:
a. people are assortments of persistent fragmentary personalities with different values according to different contexts (and those personalities indeed derived of other people’s perceptions), a view initially posited by Matt Moore;
b. there is a rather coherent personality, with a core of “character” values overlaid with other less self-defining ones, where values are more dynamic the closer they are to the “surface” (the contact surface with society and with the roles we eventually play), and where we project “personas” (the perceptions people get of us through the frame of the role we’re playing when we relate with them) without (persistently) breaching an essential unity of personality; that was the view I posited.
There was no final agreement, but we found a lot of common ground on the role of social environment in changing those “surface” values, and the idea that some of those values are indeed more dynamic (and hence less “core” or character) than other. I dare say the final difference was more a matter of nuances.
2. The second issue had less bearing on CoPs, but a lot on any management philosophy. The positions were (as I can reconstruct them):
a. Decisions are arrived at mostly by an almost automatic system of past-pattern recognition that matches situations and current perceptions with a background of almost unconscious (and indeed tacit) references, also called “intuition”, where the person’s values are irrelevant and no weighting takes effect. This position was defended by Matt Moore, and later (sort of) by Dave Snowden.
b. Decisions are arrived at as a result of comparing the likely utility of each available option (a utility that depends on our values), according to our (rather non-rational) perception of those options. There are therefore lots of biases (in how we perceive and recognize a situation, in how we calculate probabilities, indeed in which actions we even consider) and the weighting itself can be tacit, but ultimately the decision is values-based, and assumes intentionality (and thus responsibility). A version of the bounded-rationality decision making of behavioural economics. That was my corner.
There was no agreement here :-). Matt declined to take the debate further and reccomended further grounding in the “intuition” thesis; Snowden derided the underlying models and theories.
All in all, an interesting debate that (personally) will probably hone my view of decision making, while not shake its foundations… and will likely reflect in an upcoming paper on CoP participation.
By the way, here’s a very nice reflection on this, totally unrelated.