learning-org-digest V1 #3487 LO30919

From: dpdash@ximb.ac.in
Date: 01/30/04

Replying to LO30908 --

Replying to LO30908 --

John Shibley <jjsplog@earthlink.net> wrote:

> ... Now, convince me to hire you to help my organization based on
>the premise that the difference between facts and statements matters.
>What real role does such a conversation play in moving organizational
>learning forward?

Thanks John! You triggered my imagination.

In reply, may I respecfully present three interviews below. The actors
are: 1. Boss: The interviewer, who is representing a bank seeking to
recruit a manager, 2. Candidate: The job applicant.

Boss: Nice CV! But, are these facts or mere statements by you?
Candidate: Well, these are statements by me, which I believe are facts.
Boss: C'mon, I don't care about what you believe. Just give me the facts
about you. Do you really have a first-class in your MBA?
Candidate: Here is the Certificate, Sir!
Boss: Now that is another statement, although printed on better quality
Candidate: I also have a reference letter from one of my professors; but I
guess, that is yet another statement.

[The Candidate got the job because he demonstrated his awareness that
'facts' are never available to us except in the form of statements,
albeit claimed to be factual in nature.]

Boss: Nice CV! But, are these facts or mere statements by you?
Candidate: What do you mean? I thought, you are looking for a nice CV. What
else are you looking for?
Boss: The most important thing I am looking for is attitude. Do you have a
positive attitude?
Candidate: I think attitude develops--positive attitude develops in a
positive environment, through positive interactions.
Boss: You already sound rather optimistic.
Candidate: Because I want the job. Besides, I know you have a difficult
task choosing the right candidate; and it is humanly not possible to
compare all available information in a rational manner.

[The Candidate got the job because he demonstrated his awareness that
the important 'facts' are not always of the pre-existing type, but
constructed (facted). He also demonstrated that practical decisions
are less a matter to rational assessment of information, but driven
more by emotions, feelings, interactions, conversations, etc. In other
words, 'statements' can precede and produce 'facts'.]

Boss: Nice CV! But, are these facts or mere statements by you?
Candidate: I know, that is a question for you to answer. But, let's see.
How does your bank deal with employees who purposefully misrepresent facts
to gain some practical advantage?
Boss: Well, to be frank with you, everyone is doing it all the time. But, I
guess, everyone is careful not to land up on the wrong side of the law.
When one does, we have elaborate disciplinary procedures to deal with such
Candidate: Why can't you just recruit truthful, honest, and ethically-aware
people? I know it is difficult to recognise such people from the rest.
Boss: That is why I am asking you the question.
Candidate: I don't think that would help. I suggest you recruit people
based on their qualification, experience, and credentials. But, the real
solution would be to create a culture of trust and support within the bank
that would discourage people from defecting. I guess, you still need the
disciplinary procedures.

[The Candidate got the job because he demonstrated his awareness that
the ideal of 'truth' (or 'truthfulness') is not always practically
useful in preventing people from making their own choices in
representing, communicating, etc. He sugested 'trust' and 'support' as
second-best ideals. He was also quick to acknowledge their occasional

My aim is not to convince John or anyone else on the importance of the
distinction between 'fact' and 'statement'. My aim is only to reflect
on the multi-layered complexity of this distinction and its potential
to confuse.


PS: On this topic, I just read a book written by a friend in Israel.
It is "Processes and Boundaries of the Mind: Extending the Limit Line"
by Yair Neuman. More information about the author can be found on his
homepage at <http://www.bgu.ac.il/educate/yair-CV4.html>. Excerpts
from a review I wrote yesterday:

It is a scholarly piece of work that engages with the multiple views
on mind/consciousness and arrives at a picture of the mind that calls
into question a number of accepted views. Neuman first reminds us that
'any serious quest for knowledge should start with some
dissatisfaction with an established representation of the world'
(p.5). In simple terms, the so-called objective reality appears to be
objective only because of the way our distinctions, signs, and social
interactions get conditioned. The author appeals for a reenchantment
of the mind, liberating it from the na´ve acceptance of objective
reality, by recognising the processes that lead to the production of
this objective appearance. As regards the pursuit of truth, the author
lifts several mysterious veils to conclude that the ultimate truth,
that is knowable, is the distinctions we make and share in our
practice of living and practice of inquiry. Beyond that, if there is
any truth at all, it 'transcends all definition and descriptions...
transcends all words' (p.84), echoing an old insight from the Indic,
Oriental, and other ancient cultures. Instead of the pursuit of truth,
the author speaks of our meaning-making practices. We train our
attention on some indeterminate flux presented to us; we spot a
'difference that makes a difference', impose a distinction, indicate
it with a sign, and trigger a ripple effect in the semiotic web that
sustains a languaging community--in short, we actively constitute an
object that becomes recognised within a community. The so-called
'thing-in-itself is not only beyond our grasp, but a meaningless
concept' (p.111).



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