Wisdom Through Healthy Discussion.

by Patrick Liew on January 21, 2014

For some time now, I participated in a series of healthy discussions with a group of professionals from all over the world.

During the discussion, we would have a domain knowledge expert who will share his views and facilitate the discussion. We meet at least once per month and work – its really hard work – through an important and intellectually-stimulating theme or subject.

There are some tacit understanding and unwritten ground rules guiding our discussion.

First, we come prepared for the discussion.

That means we have to do our own research and analysis about the topic before the discussion. In addition, we aim to discuss and propose recommendation for current and future line of action and solution.

Secondly, we focus on predetermined purpose and goal.

At the end of the discussion, we hope to derive significant, meaningful and fulfilling outcomes. Outcomes that will not only value-add to one another but also to the people around us.

Throughout the discussion, we endeavour to be open-minded, objective and positive. In other words, we listen to one another and try to understand each other’s point of view.

We concentrate on performance and not on personality. We are interested in the subject matter and not on subjecting each other to any form of negativity.

As professionals, we don’t take things personally and call each other names. We also do not attack each other or seek all kinds of harm on each other.

We may attack the sin but not on the sinner, after all none of us is perfect. Our views are evolving and can be changed instantly.

When a presupposition or a point of view is put forth, we question the epistemology. For example, “How do you know it’s true?”

More importantly, “How do you know that you know is true?”

We are careful that our discussion is based on evidence and not on assertion.

We do not accept an opinion on face value and will try to evaluate it from all angles.

There is a hierarchy of evidence that we subscribe to in terms of credibility and acceptance.

At the highest level of evidence are clinically-proven evidence. These are evidence that have gone through vigorous studies, double-blind tests, solid evaluation by experts, and are published in a highly-regarded journal for further scrutiny.

At the lowest level are lies, half-truths, and misinformation. All of us are guilty in one way or another of holding such views as a result of make-belief, hearsay, and pop culture.

As a rule of the thumb, we discuss about why the topic is important and its implications on our life, community, economy and society. We also explore its potential problems and issues.

Then, we will look at the past and current information on the topic to have a stronger mastery of the subject matter. Inevitably, we will identify gaps of information or action that need to be addressed.

We will debate over many of the points that were raised during the discussion.

The argument may even get heated but it will be moderated by our commitment to ethos and a healthy sense of trust and respect for one another. Our motives are clear and we operate as a team.

We want to uphold each other’s interest at heart and seek a common good for humanity. Therefore, we adopt a high degree of responsibility, accountability and transparency.

That does not mean that we do not have to engage in conflict resolution every now and then. Fortunately, we have discussed about how to do it in an effective way and there is a buy-in from everybody.

Conflicts can be healthy and lead to positive results. We can become more united, wiser and better humans.

Conflict and provocative argument aside, our discussion is mainly fun, exciting and goal-oriented.

Ideally, we should be able to come out with a conclusion. We should be able to value-add on to our knowledge and develop an action plan.

Mostly, we make things more complicated and come out of the discussion, more confused than before it.

The discussion is usually long on doubt, uncertainty and question and short on conclusion, decision and solution.

It’s hard for many people to accept that being confused can generate a positive outcome.

We believe that it can be a start to a positive breakthrough and enlightenment.

To illustrate my point, they said that in the quest to reach the moon, the stakeholders went through a process of discovery and achievement.

In a nutshell, they went through the following milestones:

1. “Unknown unknown.” They don’t know what they don’t know. So, they need to come out with an effective plan to research and analyse  about the project and how to manage it effectively and efficiently.

2. “Unknown known.” They need to harness information that are related to the project and channel them to achieve its objective.

3. “Known Unknown.” They need to fill in informational gaps so that they can take the necessary action.

4. “Known Known.” They make sure that they cover all the ground. Anything that can go wrong will not go wrong.

They work on having everything needed to land a man on the moon and they eventually did it on 20 July 1969.

When astronaut Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, his first few words to the world were “That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.”

The first step to a quantum leap of progress in your life can very well begin with a healthy discussion.

I hope to see more healthy discussions, including debates and arguments in the coffee shop, marketplace, boardroom, cyberspace, parliament, and behind closed office and bedroom doors.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Visit my Inspiration blog at http://liewinspiration.wordpress.com/

For my opinions on social affairs, please visit my Transformation blog at http://hsrpatrickliew.wordpress.com/

Please visit my website, www.patrickliew.net

Please read my reflections and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!


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