The social human dimension

‘Objective’ conversations

An important part of management conversation is about strategies, structures, processes and system. And about criteria, options and best practices. The focus is on ‘things’ and their design. Consequently, how concrete people deal with those topics in their interactions is typically not considered in such conversations. Or, as we say, the social human dimension is blinded out.

Lively conversations

There is another type of conversation. It is about emotions, intentions, conflicts, and power dynamics. Talking about such topics is not possible without referring to concrete people and their interactions. In other words, conversations of this kind put the social human dimension in the spotlight.

It does not match

Both types of conversation are very common and appear to be reasonable. But on closer examination it becomes clear that the first conversation is based on oversimplification and intensive idealization. It hides the complexity of the social world and creates the illusion of rationality. By contrast, the second conversation shows us what really happens. There is no social world without different intentions, conflicts and social dynamics. However, what we are drawn into is quickly getting very complex and confusing. So, what do many people do? They cling to the former world of oversimplification and idealization. Because there they are offered easy answers.

Focusing on what is

A more sensible approach is to take the world as it is. This means to take into focus the social human dimension: what people are doing and how they are interacting in concrete situations. But the question remains: How do we deal with the complexity?

There are a number of concepts from complexity, social and political sciences which can help us here. An important one is emergence.