Climbing the Ladder (of Inference)
Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, provides a framework to allow us to slow down about before we jump into action. This is needed more than ever today. “The Ladder” describes the thinking process we go through in determining our action. This might be reflective, quick, or even unconscious at times.
Being more intentional — and CONSCIOUS — or your actions will help when dealing with conflict (whether personal, political or work related). In the recent workshop I conducted, Engaging the Energy of Conflicts, we touched on “The Ladder” briefly.
In a nutshell:
- We observe data, things, the situation
- We interpret — give meaning to the data — and come to conclusion base on our stories
- We act — or intervene — based on our beliefs, assumptions, experiences (our interpretations)
All too often, we collapse the Observation and Interpretation and BELIEVE it is the same things for all. This is the trap. We might all see the same thing, yet what we notice and pay attention to (or don’t) is what influences our Interpretations. As a business owner, leadership educator, white, gay, male in the midwest — I bring a lot of layers that infuse my Interpretations. You bring something different.
We need to raise our consciousness around DIFFERENCE — as it matters. It’s what influences the ACTIONS I take.
Here is a Ladder of Inference to help you better understand and apply “The Ladder” in your world of work and relationships.
Using this process to become intentional about your actions has the ability to change the results. Why? Because you slow down to recognize there are multiple truths, or interpretations — and this is what brings you to ACTION.
Jeff Stafford is a leadership educator and certified coach. He works with individuals and organizations looking to make a deep impact in the area of personal and organizational leadership skills. In addition to teaching Leadership Courses at the University of Minnesota, he coaches clients looking to create action, untether from a rut, or find even more meaningful ways to connect to their passions and their strengths. Want to work with Jeff? Connect via his webpage at www.OrangeSliceTraining.com . or join his Facebook Community.