The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

What’s the question?

Working with a team, our job was to do our best to come to a shared picture.

Actually, an impossible request. Whatever the image is that is on our mind, there will always be some details that don’t seem necessary to share, some there are some hesitations about as they aren’t as clear as assumed, and others one doesn’t even notice oneself.

But, to some extent, this is known. People accept it and mainly forget about it. Until they are surprised by it.

My task became to uncover blind spots. Questions are a great way to do this, not those that ask for content, much more so, those that react to unfinished sentences, that verify the unsaid, or search for the implicit. My work consisted of regularly verifying the link between the answer and what it answered. What was the question they had answered? While it did sometimes make the process more tedious, it was interesting to see how often that question uncovered a different answer than we had expected.

It is still to be seen what has been learned from the process beyond it achieving its task. Not astonishingly, in reaction to the process, sometimes a somewhat triumphant “that was what I had understood” appeared. As if the exact understanding was a sign of competence.

As thoughts emerge in the process, they become the foreground. They are too interesting to be let go, and people start to develop them. And as they do so, that thought develops independence from the question that triggered the thought. Until the learning starts to erase its source.

No wonder one day when 42 emerges as the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” the specific question it answers has long since been forgotten.



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