In our daily lives we rarely think about how our mental models affect our seeing. The way in which we normally think that seeing works is that through light, our eyes and nervous system, we are able to perceive images of this external world and thus know things about it, such as how fast objects fall due to gravity, their weights, and what things are made of.
It is only when we consciously move our attention from objects, or what is seen, to the act of seeing that we discover that our mental models have a major impact on how we see. If we come to accept this, then we can see how studying dynamic systems provides us with a new source of mental models, which then opens up to us a new way of seeing the world.
We have created a ‘ladder of seeing’ which is a simple but extremely powerful tool to help executives evaluate both their own ways of seeing and those of others. One of the greatest problems organisations face is that we as people are convinced that the way we see reality is the right and only way. We very rarely contemplate the fact that other people can have profoundly different experiences of reality, and understand complex situations and problems in dramatically different ways.
A creative organisation which uses holonomic thinking has leaders who are able to ascend the ladder to make effective decisions and find powerful solutions which emerge not from one person’s mental models and paradigms dominating the other, but through capturing the rich diversity of people’s different ways of thinking and seeing. This can only come about through genuine dialogue.