#128 Question or Answer? Part 2

Podcast #128 Question or Answer? Part 2

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Carol’s topic for discussion: Continue examining knowledge sourcing and the importance of questions versus answers. 

Recap From Podcast #127

When we last left our heroes, we were showing the differences between these two approaches of the expert vs the imager. As we were wrapping up last time we promised a deeper dive on the other 7 aspects of the expert vs the imaginer and how to know when we are working from either.

  • Carol played with the 9 indicators of an epistemology mentioned last time and realized there are basically 4 four of them rather than nine. Some were subsets.  That will make it easier to work with. In each case, we look at how to contrast them across our two ways of knowing and learning- the two epistemologies: Expert or Imager. 

Four Indicators of an Epistemology

  • So, the First Clue to the expert approach is. Being Generic. Experts see people are all in one of four types or some number of types. You can divide everything up into one four quadrants which add up to the whole. 
      • If it is sold as a best practice, it is a Generic Theory of Everything, which is a theory of nothing special. You can borrow the Best Practice, or you can buy the consultant who has packaged it and will be delivering the Generic De-innovator and Diminisher of intelligence of your workforce.
  • Let’s look at the second of the four clues and use education as an example. The second arena is to examine the goal of the Expert versus Imager epistemology. Clue: the goal of the expert is showing  you ideals to achieve. These are again, generic, but they are recommended to you for use to create plans and measure outcomes. They are often stated as Missions, Visions, Purposes. We not only lose the idea of the specific compared to the Generic, but we become abstract, Even when saying “we are a mission driven company” makes us feel better if we don’t have the ability to be specific to a place, peoples, materials. 
  • The third clue, the goal of achieving the ideals of all this expertise, is ultimately to produce “Scalability and replicability”. Two dead giveaways to the expert way of knowing.  In the time of the colonists, it was called ‘westward expansion.” In business,  it is just about scaling programs, platforms or pedagogy as fast and far as you can. This again, goes back to generic which it depends on. But it is more than about owning the space than serves a particular approach. Even inside a business, the train the trainer’s method, learnable in a few days, is important to make the method ubiquitous. 
  • Fourth Clue: Instruments and Tools: Models, training, steps. The instruments are significantly different in the expert compared to the imager approach. With experts you get Models for replicability. There are times for models which it is life and death like building an airplane. But even then the model does not protect again hubris. You have to build critical thinking needed by the imaging process. Maybe on take-off you want a set up step by step actions, a checklist, where nothing gets missed. But you better image the process to get to that list and make sure pilots can ‘see it’ or they are back to being experts. 
    • The most important thing to make that work and how it makes everyone smarter who learns to work this way is that you then engaged with me in learning how to use Living Systems frameworks. They have no answers in them like a model does. No sequence or steps to follow. 
      • One more thing, the frameworks are developed and held as a system based on how living systems work.  Not isolated fragmented offerings. They are embedded in what we call a Living Systems Technology. That means the translation of science and philosophy into a working system.

We Have a Gift for You

We have a gift for any one who sends a subject or question we end up building an episode around. We had a 16 ceramic mug designed to thank you. It has the Business Second Opinion logo on it. And we will also send to anyone who does a review of the podcast that expressed what you specifically got out of the podcast, how you used an idea or it influenced you and why others should listen. Send us a screenshot of you published comments on the platform you listen on. We will thank you with one of our new mugs. carol@businessSEcondOpinion.com for show suggestions and for reviews. Give us an address of where to mail the mug and we will let you know if we used your idea and saw your review.


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Her books have won over 15 awards so far and are required reading at leading business and management schools including Harvard, Stanford, Haas Berkeley and MIT and almost 100 other academic institutions. Carol also partners with producing Executive Education through Babson College, Kaospilot in Denmark and University of Washington, Bothell, WA, sponsored by The Lewis Institute at Babson.


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Carol Sanford and Zac Swartout, co-producers


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