Alice MacGillivray

Supporting Leadership & Knowledge Work Across Boundaries

Definitions

A comment in twitter by Luis Suarez got me thinking about the fact that some communities of practice spend a lot of time in dialogue or debate about definitions. Sometimes I value the deep dives in which theoreticians work to solidify a discipline. At other times I am irritated by the balance between these discussions and a focus on practice.

After reflecting on why people may choose to focus on definitions, I replied to Luis (@elsua): “You’ve got me thinking about how some people use definitions to help with common context, and some for single Truths.”

He responded “That’s a brilliant point, Alice; funny enough I used to be part of the 2nd group & through the years progressed into 1st group.” That transition has fascinated me for a long time. How do people shift ways of knowing? How do specialists—trained deeply in a single discipline—become pluralists?

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