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Capability: Part 2Perspective


Since “I” have made peace with the Self-Knowledge>>Self-Awareness algorithm, I want to continue on with my discussion of the components of Capability as I experience them.

But first, one caveat. In order to design LeaderWARE, I believe that you have to have a model that works on itself. In other words, a meta-model has to automatically, without conscious attention, work the magic you intend by merely being in evidence. Which means, if I teach you this model, even if you just walk away and say that is all BS, the meta-model will become psychoactive and work subconsciously, in my opinion.

This is what I have attempted to cynthesize for leaders with LeaderWARE. I’m not arrogant enough to think that this is the model of everything, nor is the model right for everyone, although I do believe anyone can use this in whatever form they are capable, or it wouldn’t be a meta-model, or meta-system. What follows is an overview of each part of CAPABILITY DYNAMICS.

Here is the element of Perspective, a fractal of Capability that I have found IMPORTANT to address in creating Self-Knowledge>>Self-Awareness, along with their major constituents:


Applying Elaborating Seeking
Giving Assimilating Integrating
Taking Coordinating Differentiating


1 a:  the technique or process of representing on a plane or curved surface the spatial relation of objects as they might appear to the eye; specifically : representation in a drawing or painting of parallel lines as converging in order to give the illusion of depth and distance
   b:  a picture in perspective

2 a:  the interrelation in which a subject or its parts are mentally viewed ; also : point of view
   b:  the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance

3 a:  a visible scene; especially :  one giving a distinctive impression of distance :  vista
   b:  a mental view or prospect

4:  the appearance to the eye of objects in respect to their relative distance and positions

Beginning with the definitions, I think, in general, people have a fairly common “point of view” of perspective and what it might mean, although in making sense, each will use it with a little different “perspective.”

“In our research, we have discovered that the English language contains a number of rich expressions that convey an appreciation of perspectival observation. These include: where you stand depends on where you sit, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, everyone looks at the world through his own glasses, the glass is half-empty or half-full, a self-fulfilling prophecy, it’s the blind man and the elephant, the Rashomon phenomenon, the umpire training school joke about “the pitch ain’t nothin’ until I call it,” and that there are two sides to every story.

Such a broad set of common expressions would lead one to believe that perspectival observation is a widely held assumption in society. Paradoxically, our research and experience within organizations has been the opposite. We have interviewed individuals, for example, who were perfectly willing to accept perspectival observation about what happened at an extended family Thanksgiving dinner, but who would insist that at work there is only one true story of what really happened.” – Eric Dent, Complexity Science: A Worldview Shift

Let me briefly focus on what I mean by outlining 9 elements of perspective.

First, there’s bifocalism, the ability to see the same situation from multiple perspectives. Anthony Kronman of Yale Law School once wrote, “Anyone who has worn bifocal lenses knows that it takes time to learn to shift smoothly between perspectives and to combine them in a single field of vision.

The same is true of deliberation. It is difficult to be compassionate, and often just as difficult to be detached, but what is most difficult of all is to be both at once.” Only with experience can a person learn to see a fraught situation both close up, with emotional intensity, and far away, with detached perspective. – David Brooks

First Perspective –> New Perspective as a transition, to hold a container for these components or as I might say, transitions in perspective.

I chose to illustrate perspective as a series of what I feel are hierarchical transitions.  In other words, the first “application” of perspective, or “applying” a perspective, is less complex than “giving” a perspective and so on to “taking” a perspective.

Look at this video and it will remind you of how limited our perspectives are and how most of us work from a narrow lens to see what is reality.

The Fine Art Of Deception : The Protojournalist : NPR Take a look at this video of a clever 2013 anamorphic installation — by French artist Bernard Pras. It morphs from a portrait of a man to a mundane pile of objects, depending on how you look at it.

In the beginning: All of us have a perspective.

As you walk through my notions of perspective and the lens we form at anyone given time in the perspective-forming process, remember the window that you saw “Pras” work and notice how small it is in relation to all possible views.


We may be unaware of that perspective, as in it being objectively known.  Yet, we have one and we apply it as a point of view when we are being, doing, having, becoming, and contributing, which I’ll start abbreviating now as BDHBC to save time. BDHBC are values vectors, which I’ll discuss later in ValuDYNAMICS.

Walk with me through some “figurative” examples of the notions of perspective using my RED CAR theme to illustrate perspectival shifts.

I have the fastest RED CAR on the road.

When we start to become aware that we have a perspective, we can then give it consciously, and know that we can give our perspective.  This is hierarchically more complex than just “using subjectively what we have as a perspective”, or as you will soon learn, “being subject to your perspective.”

I have a RED CAR. It is the fastest RED CAR on the road, and it can win any race against any other car.

To take a perspective means that you can step outside your own perspective as object and actually “take, or try on” a perspective that is different from the one you have. It means that we can step away from our perspective long enough to know that there is another perspective available. It doesn’t mean that we can use the new perspective, it just means we are capable of taking one, acknowledging it exists.

I heard there are BLUE CARS that are fast, but they haven’t raced against my RED CAR.

When we are able to discuss our own perspective, and provide someone else with the “Teachable Points Of View” [TPOV] of our perspective, we are said to be able to elaborate our perspective. Often this will be in contrast, or comparison to another perspective or perspectives that are different from ours.

We are able to point to the differences, but not yet reject our own perspective. Because once we can elaborate our own perspective, we are able to use it well, even if it’s not appropriate or proper, or even fit to the application or requirements.

My RED CAR is the fastest car on the road, because I have spent plenty of money making sure the motor, transmission, and tires give me the best advantage available.

Assimilation has to do with beginning to bring other pieces not originally contained in the original perspective, including mashing up disparate perspectives so they don’t make much sense, to bringing in sophistication to the original perspective by adapting it with the new information.

Simply, transitioning a statement like “I believe that RED CARS are the fastest cars on the road.” → a perspective, too, “I believe that RED CARS are the fastest on the road because my RED CAR is the fastest on the road because it can win against any BLUE CAR, which some people think is the fastest car on the road.” — is a simple assimilation.

Being able to objectively combine or coordinate two perspectives simultaneously is a further use of perspective and demonstrates a different level of capability, almost always a more complex task, than the previous ways in which I have used perspective to describe capability.

Some believe that RED CARS are the fastest, and others have thought BLUE CARS are the fastest cars on the road. So I think it might be a good idea to test this by having all RED CARS race to find the fastest RED CAR, and all BLUE CARS race to find the fastest BLUE CAR and then having a match off race.

Seeking a perspective requires a more complex view. It means holding one’s perspective, while testing that perspective against other perspectives, usually to make the held perspective “better” or more robust. There seems to be a difference when people are willing to “test” their perspective against other perspectives, knowing that their perspective may not be the best perspective, or most appropriate, fit or sustainable.

I will take my RED CAR and race against other RED CARS to see if I am the fastest RED CAR, because I have raced other BLUE CARS and I won.

Bringing things in a perspective together and showing how they make your perspective actually more robust or not is a powerful process because it shows that the perspective has been tested and can stand up to any problem that you currently have.

My RED CAR, with all it’s new additions which I made as a result of racing all other RED and BLUE CARS is now the best RED CAR available.

What happens in this particular part of perspective is something odd, which causes the success of integration to no longer solve the problem, or remain appropriate, or even be fit to the circumstances. It is where abandonment begins to occur, and that the need for a new perspective begins to appear.

It might seem that consolidation after integration is where things remain robust and where anti-fragility occur, but it seems that new problems arise and the old perspective is suffering diminishing returns.

My RED CAR was the fastest car in drag racing, so now there is no one to race, so I took it out to a road course where ORANGE CARS are racing, and I realized that my RED CAR was no longer the fastest car.

Summary of Perspective
While these are all simple examples to help you understand what might appear to be subtle or minute differences, they help us greatly in understanding what is next and also how to scaffold a person with a particular perspective in transition.

We can use three states: an entering state, a nodal state, and an exiting state to define the three sets of perspectives for discussion.


Entering Nodal Exiting
Applying Elaborating Seeking
Giving Assimilating Integrating
Taking Coordinating Differentiating

In the next part of CAPABILITY DYNAMICS, I’ll discuss Subjectivity. Subjectivity gives us part of the language we need to discuss other components of perspective, and CAPABILITY.

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    Mike R. Jay is a developmentalist utilizing consulting, coaching, mentoring and advising as methods to offer developmental scaffolding for aspiring leaders who are interested in being, doing, having, becoming, and contributing… to helping people have lives.

    Mike R. Jay
    Leadership University

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