On ignorance, confusion and confidence

I’ve just been reading a book that draws on the work of Wittgenstein to state:

“He [Wittgenstein] maintained that there are two main kinds of problem: problems of ignorance (there are things existing that we do not know enough about and therefore we require more information), and problems of confusion (we have the information but we do not understand what it amounts to).”

Hart (1998, page 141)

This got me thinking…

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My role as a researcher

I’m now officially four days into the induction programme for my Professional Doctorate in Public Health at the University of Lancaster.  We’ve got some on-line induction activities to do – then in a couple of weeks is the summer residential academy.  I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow students for ‘real’ beyond the on-line networking we’ve started.

But today yet again, I found myself inquiring into the relationship between ‘doing my job’, ‘doing research’, ‘producing knowledge’ and what these things mean with respect to the relationship with my colleagues and others who will become ‘participants’ in my research.

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If ‘research’ is the answer, what is the question?

A while back, I wrote a blog with a similar title to this – but with ‘systems thinking’ rather than ‘research’ the focus of the answer.  That blog was inspired by Ison (2010, 187)’s discussion about – if ‘managing’ is the answer what is the question.

This frame of inquiry came to mind today as I started thinking about the purpose of ‘research’ – what is the system to which doing research is the answer?

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The use and abuse of measurement

There seems to be a bit of a thing going on this week about terms like measurement, targets, payment by results, outcomes.  It has been going on a while in conversations I have had (both face to face and on-line) and a number of systems bloggers are writing about it but it all seems to be getting a bit busier this weekend…it seems to be coming to a head.

So to start with I’ll mention all the activity that has prompted me to turn to the keyboard to add to the conversation – or if not adding to it then at least summarising where my own thinking is going to. Continue reading

Change again…

I have been thinking a lot about change recently.  I have got this muddled mess in my head about it.  But as I sat down to write this blog, I realised I have been here before…

30/10/10 – one of my first ever blogs – The nature of change

12/11/10 – not long after Changing practice

27/12/10 – Worldviews and theories of change

14/3/11 – Managing systemic change

I think my latest quest perhaps has more to do with ‘managing’ change, rather than change per se.  I think it was in B822 Creativity, innovation and change that the following approaches to change were laid out: Continue reading

On helping – review and moving on

Can’t believe nearly a month has gone by since my last blog… but hey it is supposedly ‘summer’ and there has been the distraction of the olympics.  But I thought I’d better return to my inquiry into helping..

There are a number of other chapters in Schein’s book after the one on humble inquiry, but they are more about applications of the ideas covered in all the blogs to date, rather than new information.  Continue reading

On helping – the art of humble inquiry

Having made the case that it is most appropriate to start out as a helper in the role of process consultant (the what and the why), Schein goes into humble inquiry – as the ‘how’ of being a process consultant.

Humble inquiry helps to do three key things – firstly, equalise the relationship by making what the client knows become all important; secondly, shows that as the helper you are attentive and interested in the client’s situation; and finally, it helps get more information and remove some of the ambiguity and unknowns from the situation so that as the helper you have more of an idea of what to do next. Continue reading

On helping – traps as a helping relationship forms

Aha my motivation to carry on reading and blogging about Schein’s book has been given a helpful(!) boost by a friend who commented in an email that she was enjoying reading it ‘by proxy’…thanks for the help..

Moving on from the general understanding of relationships in everyday life in terms of reciprocity, deference and demeanour.  The third chapter of Schein’s book on Helping starts to focus on the helping relationship with a particular emphasis on how that relationship ‘starts out’.  At the point where someone asks for help or offers it a number of social inequities and role ambiguities some to the fore.  It is a tense moment full of pitfalls and traps for both the potential helper and the potential client – but we only really notice it when it all goes wrong. Continue reading