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Archive for February, 2011

Koinonia

An interesting new term for me – Koinonia.  In Greek, it means ‘talking through’.

In a broader and deeper sense, it refers to the “spirit of fellowship” principle.

The Greeks believed that the key to establishing dialogue is to exchange ideas without trying to change the other person’s mind. This is not the same as discussion, which from its Latin root means to “dash to pieces.” The basic rules of dialogue for the Greeks were: “Do nott argue,” “Do not interrupt,” and “Listen carefully.”

To clarify your thinking, you must suspend all untested assumptions. Being aware of your assumptions and suspending them allows thought to flow freely. Free thought is blocked if we are unaware of our assumptions, or unaware that our thoughts and opinions are based on assumptions. For instance, if you believe that certain people are not creative, you are not likely to give their ideas fair consideration. Check your assumptions about everything and try to maintain an unbiased view.

Say what you think, even if your thoughts are controversial.

This practice by Einstein and his colleagues was observed and recorded in “The Spirit of Konoinia”.   During these interactions, they exchanged and dialogued about ideas which later became the foundations of modern physics. They exchanged ideas without trying to change the other’s mind and without bitter argument. They felt free to propose whatever was on their mind.  They always paid attention to each other’s views and established an extraordinary professional fellowship. This freedom to discuss without risk led to the breakthroughs that physicists today take for granted.

It was Alex Osborne’s idea to illustrate this concept in the picture below.   His notion is that it needs a systematic effort and disciplined practice to produce ideas in a group.  Ideas have to be offered by the participants one at a time.   One member records ideas and suggestions on a flip chart or chalk board.  All withhold judgments, regardless of personality differences work on common goal.

Group A represents a group of creative ideas, in an un-inhibiting environment.

Group B also represents a group of creative ideas, in an inhibiting environment.  Which group do you prefer to join?

While circle A looks expanding, circle B is contracting and restricting creative thoughts.  The restrictive nature of the forces (due to trusting issue, fear of having silly questions, reluctance to openly share) in Circle B even make the circle appear smaller than it is (although they are identical in size).

 

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