Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Three Questions to Assess a Person’s Discernment

The verb ‘discern’ simply means to detect with the sense.


Organizations and society as a whole go deeper and deeper into digital dynamic with “VUCA” characteristics (Velocity, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity), either being a digital leader or a digital professional today, it’s more important than ever to have strong discernment and sound judgement to make effective decisions and bring wisdom to the workplace. Discernment means the ability to judge well. The verb ‘discern’ simply means to detect with the senses. So how to assess a person’s discernment via questioning?


What’s your perception- the way (logic, lenses, philosophy, mindset, methodology) you usually use to interpret things? Discernment is more about perceptiveness and discernment requires the ability to be the witness in situations, to have the inner knowing that allows for discernment, to develop better sensing tools and then to act from the greater dimension of knowledge, understanding, and awareness. Perception is one's interpretation of the reality. It is as we see, observe and experience as defined by our mental "band-pass filters." Our mind notices and recognizes some things, but may not do the same for some other things. Our perception is what makes up our worldview. Our perception is, in turn, an interpretation based on our conditioning or beliefs, philosophy, mindset etc, leading us to judge others, all of which may be positive or negative - depending on one's perception. In effect, our perception is not absolutely true, but it is what we believe to be true. Having discernment is not equal to being judgmental which has the aspect of something being right or wrong. It is more about being free to understand things more comprehensively with contextual intelligence. Context aids us in understanding what’s relevant and what’s not. From a practical perspective, 'seeing' the context you are 'part' of, allows one to identify the leverage points of the system and then 'choose' the 'decisive' factors, in the attempt to achieve the set purpose.


Are you continuous examining whether you have a cognitive understanding (knowledge, understanding, insight ) about the circumstances, situations, or people? The most important capability of cognitive mind is the willingness and ability to seek out acknowledge, and address our ignorance and the assumptions we make to minimize it. Both willing and able to acquire various types of information begin with an understanding of purpose; what is it we want to achieve? Willingness to acquire additional information begins with an acceptance you do not know enough to achieve your purpose; you recognize a gap in the knowledge you have and value in closing the gap. Such cognitive understanding requires a person's ability to grasp or comprehend information. Too often assumptions and prejudices get in the way of understanding. Without true understanding, there is no way to have strong discernment. It is the responsibility of each individual to examine themselves and to make sure they are open to true understanding. Assumptions and prejudices are due to lack of deeper understanding. When you judge something, you form a critical opinion of it based on facts, discerned data, and preconceived notions. Many times people make a poor judgment, not because ignorance, but because of the lack of insight. So far wisdom and knowledge have evolved in humans with their eyes and ears open to understand. Understanding has happened to human, which is a reflection of the intellect that has evolved.


Can you think independently and dare to challenge conventional wisdom? Independent Thinking means you do not follow others' opinion blindly, but analyze and synthesize all sources of input and information to form your own opinion. Also, it doesn't mean you will "reinvent the wheel" every time when you make a decision. But if you uncritically accept  conventional wisdom -whatever values, knowledge or ideas you've been taught, many of them perhaps are out of date or have a bias, you are not a great thinker with discernment. A leader without independent thinking is a lack of authenticity; a digital worker without independent thinking is a lack of creativity and discernment. An independent thinking mind is shining up in an open and positive working environment, but be treated as “misfit” mind in a hierarchical & silo surroundings. But now digital opens the new chapter of innovation and people-centricity, people are encouraged to express different opinions, present the strong spirit of discernment, and compete for uniqueness.

Besides change, complexity is the most critical characteristics facing in digital businesses today, therefore, digital leaders and professionals with strong discernment capability can keep clearer mind, make better decisions, and practice sound judgment, they can also make positive influence on culture, have higher potential to be an innovator, and build a living people-centric digital workplace.

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