Windows and Holograms

I’m currently reading the book The Fifth Discipline, by Peter Senge. I am making painfully slow progress. It’s a book that is heavy in relevant content, but not one that I find to be a particularly engaging read. But I persist, because I know it’s stuff I want to learn about.

One section related to mental models. The structures underpinning our perceptions and resultant decision making that we often don’t even realise we have. It talks about how when you’re in a team situation if you want to achieve successful outcomes then it starts with recognising we each hold different mental models and being open about them. The desired result isn’t necessarily a consensus view. It may be that the group is helping to make the main decision maker’s mental model more complete.

To illustrate this, he compares two different metaphors. The first is the idea of each individual’s mental model as a window through which they see the world. Everyone looking out the window from a different angle sees something slightly differently. This adds diversity of viewpoints, but not necessarily depth of understanding.

The other metaphor is a hologram. That each individual contributes a slice of the image that is unique to them, but combines with the others in the team to create a more detailed rendering. In this case, diversity of viewpoints result in a deeper understanding.