The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Basic assumptions

In every culture, there are ideas no one questions. They are basic assumptions this group assumes to be true.

Whatever people in this group do, it will somehow gravitate around the basic assumption. Its stability helps the group focus on the work they have to attend to. It works as a filter reducing the ambiguity the members of the group may experience while performing their activity. Questioning it will only happen when major changes become visible.

The purpose of the company or its product can be an example of such a basic assumption.

Today Play-Doh is a successful company who multiplied their sales starting 1958. It was the consequence of reinventing themselves. In the early 20th century the company had been producing a compound people used for wiping soot from wallpaper. As people started to shift away from heating with coal in the 50’s they didn’t need to clean their wallpaper as often as before. With a dwindling market, the product became superfluous. The company could have assumed that there was no need for their product anymore. Discovering how to transform that product enabled a shift to another marked and a transformation of their business model.

Society will also hold such assumptions. But there, the context influencing what people believe will take much more time to shift any of the given assumptions. The last century has seen a surge of inventions and resulting change, leading to a situation that is driven by the speed of change. The term VUCA describing such a situation appeared upon the end of the cold war but it is only now that it starts to be widely known.

Even with this velocity of change, the basic assumption that people live in a stable culture continues to influence us.

Growing up it was the mantra I heard too: Go to school, learn what you need for life. Go to university, learn a craft that will sustain you as an adult.

Life was seen as linear. Life was defined and determined by the directives of the society around us.

That belief still impacts how most people live, assuming that there is something like a life plan or career that will unfold step by step. Instead of realizing that this might have changed, they continue to believe that this is how things should be. It’s how they see others succeed, leaving the dream of “security, happiness, and financial prosperity” intact. And if it doesn’t work for them, they’ll simply assume, that they have to work harder to implement it.

It doesn’t work like that.

There is a new paradigm around. It is showing us that what we learned yesterday may be outdated tomorrow. This transformation of how we learn can shift how we perceive life. Creating awareness for the cycles built on learning and unlearning we are experiencing. Allowing to being attentive to how we can but also have to shape our life.

But it asks to let go of the idea of a linear life defined by society and all available to us.



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