This is a cross-post from the HBR Complexity Serieswritten by David K. Hurst, and is one of the perspectives relating to the 2013 Drucker Forum Theme (“Managing Complexity”).
Humans engage with their world in two reciprocal ways: firstly as passionate participants and secondly as detached observers. As managers we cycle between these modes constantly. It’s the mark of a great manager to be able to judge, in a complex situation, when and how to use each of them.
Detached observation requires a certain maturity. Consider that we are born into the world immersed in context. We are embodied organisms, fine-tuned by evolution to garner cues to action from our surroundings. We pay attention when we see a face and smile when we are smiled at. We learn to walk and talk without explicit instruction. From about the age of seven onward, however, we develop the capacity for perspective-taking. We learn to distance ourselves from the world and to swap our roles as involved participants for positions as distant observers.
The full blog post can be found at: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/05/the_mongrel_discipline_of_mana.html