|From the Publisher:
Readers. This week we explore the
nature of "Facts" in the article, "Just the
Facts!" Inspired by my love for acronyms, I came up
with this one: FACTS = Fearless
Assumptions & Creative Thinking Stops.
Here we explore how facts can serve as models of reality
and how as facilitators, we can help others use them, instead
of being used by them.
At the end of the article, we invite you to join another
free tele-discussion on the concept of Appreciative
Inquiry co-hosted by Patricia Clason and
Bert Stitt. Both of whom are serious practitioners of this
method. Please review the announcement and join us if you
Also, please note
that I've scheduled the next "Random Acts of Facilitation"
Teleclass with a discount to MFJ readers. Click on the logo
in the right sidebar for details.
If you or your colleagues are interested in submitting an
article for consideration, please email
your ideas. I'd love to hear from you.
FACTS = Fearless
Assumptions &Creative Thinking Stops.
all been taught from the very beginning about the sacred
importance of facts. "Know your facts. Get your facts
straight. Let's just stick with the facts here! Just the
facts ma'am" Many of us pride ourselves on operating
on facts versus other half-baked ideas, sentiments, or opinions.
But have you ever inquired into the nature of facts? Just
what the heck is a fact anyway? Since I have a penchant
for irreverence, I decided to explore this fact thing. Here's
what I found.
Fact (fakt) n. 1. Information presented as
objectively real. 2. A real occurrence; an event.
3. Something having real, demonstrable existence.
4. A thing that has been done.
The first definition above, taken from the American Heritage
Dictionary, indicates that a fact is information presented
as objectively real. I find the "presented" piece
particularly important. Because as we move through life,
I think many of us forget about this aspect of facts. When
something is presented as a fact, we usually buy it as such.
I personally received a sobering lesson on this issue in
a recent Random Acts of Facilitation TeleClass from my friend
Steven Pyser who was attending as a student. In a role-play,
he presented information that we all accepted as factual.
We accepted it as fact because he presented it as fact,
and by virtue of the strength of his conviction, his articulation
of the information, and his energy and presence. It took
us a few minutes to realize that he had just made this stuff
up. Had we not been doing an exercise to reveal assumptions,
we would have probably bought these "facts."
Here, let me share some "real" facts with you.
Some of these are a little dated so please bear with me.
Dated? What do you mean dated? Facts are always facts. Right?
Well, let's just see about that.
The earth is flat. Stay away from the edge lest you perish
The earth is 25,000 miles in circumference.
The sky is blue.
The Republican party is conservative.
Earth is the home of intelligent life.
Human beings can't travel faster than 15 mph and survive.
The Democratic party is liberal.
Human beings are imperfect.
Let's take the obvious fact that the earth is 25,000 miles
around. This assumes a perfectly smooth surface. As we look
closer at the planet's surface, we notice many peaks and
valleys. If measured the true distance around the planet
by traversing the actual surface over mountains and valleys
and sea floors, we would find a circumference far greater
than 25,000 miles. If we were to look even closer, and we
measured actual surfaces at the molecular level, this number
would grow still larger. In fact (no pun intended), if we
were to measure the span of our planet at the level of subatomic
particles we would find the circumference of the earth to
be almost infinite. Strange, but true.
If we were to examine each of the "facts" above
to this level of detail, I'm afraid they would each come
apart like week-old cornbread.
My conclusion then is this. Facts are our inquiry boundaries.
Fancy words for the point where we stop checking our assumptions.
And we ALWAYS make assumptions about everything.
And that's a fact! Even our sciences are based on mountains
of assumptions. I was struck as a young engineering student
when I learned that we'd be practically paralyzed to design
anything if we didn't make assumptions and approximations
in every equation and theory we used.
Models of reality are useful. But only if we understand
that they are only models. Facts, I believe are models
too. Just as even the words we use are symbols pointing
to meaning. As meaning-makers, let us not mistake the map
for the territory.
always, we must now ask the question, How can we use this
information as facilitators?
- Be conscious of the fact that facts are simply well-proven
or widely agreed upon assumptions.
- Help groups examine or unravel the "facts" underlying
any problem or opportunity they're pursuing in order to
expose underlying assumptions.
- Know that we use facts to help us feel secure. They often
serve as life rafts for the fearful. Deflate them slowly
and with compassion.
- Know that facts, end discovery and inquiry. If you've
developed elegant solutions and plans, great, you're assumptions
are probably effective ones. If you're path is unclear,
try unraveling some facts for awhile.
- If facts get in the way of your fantasy, make up new facts
to support your dream and ask what it would take to bring
these facts into existence.
- Beware of "human facts machines" Encourage them
to go on standby, just for awhile, and to humor your exploration
into a world where facts no longer exist--just to see where
it leads you.
|This week, question the facts
that make up your world. What would happen if they weren't
as concrete as you think they are? Would you be inspired to
do or be something different? I'd love to hear you're perspectives
on this. Please email
them to me.
Skill Related Resource
Truth, by Scott
In this book, Scott Soames illuminates the notion of truth
and the role it plays in our ordinary thought, as well as
in our logical, philosophical, and scientific theories.
Part I addresses crucial background issues, including the
identification of the bearers of truth, the basis for distinguishing
truth from other notions (like certainty, with which it
is often confused), and the formulation of positive responses
to well-known forms of philosophical skepticism about truth.
Part II explicates the formal theories of Alfred Tarski
and Saul Kripke, including their treatments of the Liar
paradox, and evaluates the philosophical significance of
their work. Part III extends important lessons drawn from
Tarski and Kripke into new domains: vague predicates, the
Sorites paradox, and the development of a larger, deflationary
perspective on truth.
Steve Davis is a Facilitator's Coach helping leaders enhance
their effectiveness through the application and perspective
of facilitation. Please email
or call me at 805-489-4130 to schedule a Free exploratory
session, or to share your suggestions and ideas for the journal.
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Join us for a Free 1-hour
Tele-Discussion with AI experts, Patricia Clason
and Bert Stitt on March 28th
we work with groups as facilitators, consultants,
coaches, or therapists, we tend to start with the
question, "So what's the problem here? What's
wrong? What needs to change?" etc. The problem
with this is that we place the spotlight on problems
that may have not been worrisome before we showed
up to highlight them. AI is an alternative way to
support people and groups by asking questions such
as "what's going well around here? What ideas
can you tell me about that I can share with others?
How are you documenting your excellence?" Your
role takes on the form of one who facilitates the
discovery of conditions that made excellence possible
in the past, and ways to project more of this into
AI, we help groups articulate the themes and dreams
of "what could be" and "what will be."
What will be is the future envisioned through an analysis
of the past. The entire system maintains the best
of the past by discovering what it is and stretching
it into the future possibilities. This differs from
other visioning work because the envisioned future
is grounded in the reality of the actual past.
in for a one-hour conversation
at 10 AM EST on Friday, March 28th
with Patricia Clason and Bert Stitt to learn more
about this exciting new participatory technology.
We will discuss the basics of the Appreciative Inquiry
(AI) approach. You will learn how these techniques
can help you to use appreciation for positive experiences
in life as the foundation for building a practical
vision and the strategic steps that will work to achieve
that vision. Please click
here and press "Send" to register.
You'll receive an automatic response, secure your
spot for this call register, and receive call-in information.
But hurry, the bridge can handle only a limited number
Stitt operates a home-based consultancy
from Madison, Wisconsin. He provides facilitation
services, public engagement consultation, and organizational
development for community-building projects, coaching
for non-governmental organizations, mediation and
facilitation for governmental agencies, and strategic
planning processes for associations, foundations,
and small businesses. Appreciative Inquiry is a relatively
recent tool that Bert is finding very useful as he
reaches into the toolbox while helping to build the
organizations he works with.
Clason has traveled across the continent
doing speeches, workshops and media appearances as
a professional speaker, trainer, consultant and writer,
giving over 3,000 presentations for corporations,
associations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Now the Director of the Center for Creative Learning
which offers programs for personal and professional
development and has written many articles, training
programs and personal growth seminars and is a sought-after
guest for radio and television. Patricia likes to
focus on alternative methods of teaching and learning,
addressing the psychological perspectives and principles
behind the practical tools that she teaches. As a
result, audiences are often entranced with her and
excited about using these new ideas.
telediscussion will be held at 10 AM EST on Friday,
March 28th. Please click
here and press "Send." You'll receive
an automatic response, secure your spot for this call
register, and receive call-in information. But hurry,
the bridge can handle only a limited number of callers.
you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.
Look for your next issue on March 25, 2002.
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