The Core Value of Others’ Perspectives
Okay, so another blog about Philosophy and Business. In case you forgotten my last awesome blog around how the things I learn listing to Stephen West on his Philosophize This! Podcast 😊, I am looking for applications of the lessons I’m learning on notable philosophers’ thinking, to the world of business.
Last week, on my way up to skiing, I listened to a podcast on Jose Ortega. The podcast is titled “Circumstance” as it presents Ortega’s view of how all we know if based upon our personal circumstance. IOW, based upon our current set of perspectives on the world. However, West stresses that Ortega is NOT proposing a relativism, that all perspectives are equal. But, rather, he is just saying that, while there is TRUTH in the world, our view of that truth is relative to our perspective — which is grounded in our background, cultural biases, etc. To illustrate this, West provides an example of viewing a forest: you can shift your orientation and position in RELATION to that forest…
You can MOVE to different PARTS of the trail, to different points in time and space, you can see the SAME collection of trees from a different angle, you may even come to a CLEARING where you get to see one angle of a larger PORTION of the forest…but there is NEVER A POINT, Ortega says, within our human perspective of the world, where you can see, all angles and perspectives at once. This is true of things in the physical world, this is true of cultural institutions, this even rings true all the way down to basic things we have to do in our everyday life.
I had two distinct reactions to this podcast. The first has nothing really to do with business: As I approach 60 (later this month! ☹), I am very cognizant of the tendency to feel I have learned “enough” and know more than others — especially those “young-uns” around me. I am aware of the hubris and cognitive dissonance in this thinking. Ortega’s push on Circumstance simply reinforces the need for caution in my overconfidence. While I have learned much in my life, and I have seen parts of the TRUTH from differing perspectives, I am not done learning! I have a healthy fear of growing old and crotchety!
The other reaction has to do with the way I conduct myself in the business world. This is certainly related to my personal reaction above. I need to stay vigilant against over confidence in my view of the business situations around me. Ortega teaches me in this area that I need not only to be humble of my own perspective on the current business challenge, but also to actively seek other, often differing perspectives on this same problem. This does not mean there is not a RIGHT decision to be made in any given situation, but rather that I reduce the risk of any particular decision by recruiting and incorporating alternative and even contrary perspectives on the problem.
Simply stated, as I counsel my clients on exit strategy, growth targets, operational priorities, I should stay open to both my own experiences, as well as those of others I trust and respect.