As we give meaning to ideas, we also develop an image in the mind of it. We’ll work with images that form themselves, stereotypes, or images that come together based on previous experiences. These references help us “see” or “define” what we are talking about. Eventually, these images can develop as we discuss them with others.
In an interesting conversation with Sandy, a coaching colleague of mine, I realized that my idea of a root cause could have been described with the image of a carrot. Even with one of these standard carrots our industrialized food industry tends to sell. It’s almost immaculate.
But I only realized that I had such an image in mind when our conversation on root causes didn’t match my image of a carrot. Our conversation seemed to describe the roots of a tree.
The image had shifted from pulling the root cause out and benefiting from doing so to pulling out the root cause destroying what was being pulled out. The tree being embedded in a context could be seen as a system as well as being part of a system. With the root cause being multiple
Shifting the image meant being able to choose between different models and thus needing to determine first which image of a root cause was needed before trying to determine and deal with a root cause.