By | Ralph Kilmann | Co-author of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)
I’m publishing this newsletter series to discuss the nuances of the four timeless topics for people and organizations: conflict, change, transformation, and consciousness. Please subscribe to never miss an article.
A few years ago, I co-led a two-day workshop in England on making use of the TKI to help people broaden their sense of self (across all aspects of mind/body/spirit consciousness), in particular, by fully embodying all the systems and organizations that surrounded their life.
Conveniently, but not coincidentally, just one day before this workshop began, I had visited the British Museum. There, etched on one of the walls on the first floor, is a quote by the poet, William Blake. The writing on the museum wall proclaimed the essential challenge for humanity: “I must create my own system or be enslaved by another man’s.” Blake wrote that powerful observation somewhere around 1800. It forewarns that if you think of yourself as separate from your systems and you assume that those systems are someone else’s responsibility, you’ll be at the mercy of all the systems created by others — whether those systems were created just last year…or thousands of years ago.
The basic premise is that roughly 80% of our beliefs, attitudes, and behavior are shaped by our surrounding systems (families, communities, organizations, and nations) and maybe only 20% is the remaining space for “free will” within those cultural systems. Some of the quality gurus, such as W. Edwards Deming, suggested that the ratio of system/process effects vs. “pure” individual choices is closer to 85–15. If you’re unconscious, cultural expectations, reward systems, and the habits, customs, and processes that surround you will unduly shape your behavior and determine your sense of self. Especially if you are unconscious, you’ll find yourself quite helpless and hopeless within that web of your surrounding systems.