Written by: Barry Borgerson, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Part 3 of this article focused on certainty anomalies, which are outcomes that don’t match assertions, theories, beliefs, or assumptions, and the need to generate the courage and wisdom to notice them. It developed the distinction between “out there” and “in here” forms of “truth.” Part 3 also identified that a key mechanism to notice and accept anomalies is to learn to Believe but Verify! Now we segue from recognizing that some of our beliefs do not correspond to facts in the world or fail to align with our success needs to figuring out how to change counterproductive, dysfunctional, and sometimes dangerous internal certainties.
Part 4: Auto-Context Transformations: Yes, We Can Periodically Change Who We Are
Part 4 explores Kuhn’s key insight #4 listed previously in this article: Paradigm shifts.
The Mental Mechanism Responsible for Paradigm Shifts
Beyond Revolutionary Problem-Solving: For Kuhn, paradigm shifts were some mysterious new way of viewing revolutionary-science problem-solving. For us, a paradigm shift for problem-solving means a mental mechanism in the form of a worldview transformation not just for science but also for any form of problem-solving. However, as with expanding Kuhn’s concept of paradigms, we can now extend his paradigm-shift insight by expanding it beyond generalized problem-solving.
Paradigm Shifts to Auto-Context Reconstructions: The general principle Kuhn was getting at with his paradigm shifts is really auto-context reconstructions, which is one form of auto-self transformation process for a specific type of auto-self activity. In 2Selfs Theory terms, Kuhn meant reconstructing a science worldview (paradigm). We can liberate paradigm shifts from their six decades of purgatory by expanding them beyond just problem solving to other incarnations of auto-contexts including cultures, attitudes, and values. Revolutionary science, and more generally revolutionary problem solving, is one form of auto-context (worldview) reconstruction. Other forms of “paradigm shifts” include revolutionary culture changes (such as in business), attitude changes (such as to change behavior habits indirectly), values changes (both positive and negative), and cult conversions (sects-change operations). Therefore, the paradigm shift we need to make so we can understand and manage paradigm shifts in general terms is to construct a new worldview that empowers us to see paradigm shifts as auto-context reconstructions in many different forms. The next section addresses this issue directly.
We Need a Worldview Transformation to Empower Us to Understand and Manage Worldview Transformations
A New Worldview to Understand Auto-Contexts: The general form of Kuhn’s paradigm shifts is 2Selfs Theory’s worldview transformations, which is the problem-solving form of auto-context transformations. Therefore, to understand paradigm shifts, worldview transformations, culture changes, and other forms of auto-context transformations, we need a new worldview to empower us to understand auto-context transformations. As you should now expect, 2Selfs Worldview serves that purpose, so we need to continue our journey of investigating how that impacts us. We create two fundamentally different types auto-context transformations: constructions and reconstructions.
Auto-Context Constructions: We experience this process repeatedly throughout our lives. However, most people do not notice when that happens and previously people did not even realize later that it happened to them. The auto-context-construction process works by providing information to the thinking-self while inducing feelings and to do that repeatedly until a new auto-context automatically and imperceptibly forms. Sometimes our environment inadvertently does this to us and other times individuals or groups deliberately impose it on us. An example of the first type of environmental auto-context constructions is the emergence of a worldview of a particular science discipline as discussed previously. A business example is the wild press enthusiasm of the “best practices” genre of books as shown by Phil Rosenzweig in his Halo book. Another potent example is the creation of business cultures based on the great feelings associated with repeated successes. We refer to these business cultures as certainty illusions because even though they start out aligned with success needs, they increasingly become misaligned since the auto-context stays stubbornly fixed while the business environment relentlessly changes. A major problem businesses face is that this misalignment now happens very rapidly due to the rise of the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic among other forms of disruptions. A benign example of deliberately imposing certainty illusions on us is consumer-product branding. A destructive example of imposing a certainty illusion on many people in the US was/is the relentlessly repeated “Stop the Steal” mantra after the 2020 US presidential election accompanied by inducing strong feelings. In this case, the “Stop the Steal” constructed auto-contexts never corresponded with the facts in the world outside of the mind, so they were from their beginning maliciously induced certainty delusions.
Auto-Context Reconstructions: This type of transformation process is much more difficult to achieve due to certainty illusions and the Comfort Imperative. That is, it requires us to challenge and attempt to change an internal certainty and it requires many repetitions to rewrite the old auto-context, and that normally causes us to stop the process due to unacceptable discomforts. Two well-known examples of aggressive, forceful auto-context reconstructions are what we know informally as cult conversions and political brain washing.
An Example of the Difficulty of Creating Auto-Context Reconstructions: We know that it is very difficult to take innovative concepts through the process of making them new profit streams in established companies. The first barrier is the moat that surrounds the fortress of the status quo in the form of a certainty illusion. That obstacle is so formidable that people rarely have any desire to try to cross it. If a company’s leaders somehow build a bridge over the seemingly impassable certainty-illusion moat, they then run smack into a giant gate that seems impenetrable in the form of the unfair fight associated with encountering the Comfort Imperative when attempting to reconstruct a key element of the company culture. This is where we need theory-based processes because most people seem to believe, at least implicitly, that culture change is primarily a thinking-self activity or at least that they can address it directly using thinking-self processes. However, we now understand well that the certainty illusion and the Comfort Imperative block the culture-change process. Therefore, it should not stretch anyone’s imagination to realize employing a mind-level theory that models auto-context processes can provide great benefits in many areas of human endeavors including business.
Noticing and Aborting Constructions Is Much Easier than Enduring Reconstructions: Because of technological advances in communications technologies, we are currently suffering through many types of certainty constructions that undermine our successes and well-being. This happens in several aspects of our lives but often most destructively in political systems throughout the world. Once dysfunctional certainties embed in an auto-context, they are extremely difficult to dislodge. A much better way to avoid the destructiveness of counterproductive, often dysfunctional, and now increasingly dangerous auto-context-based certainties is to notice and abort the construction process. Believe but Verify! The formula for avoiding malicious certainty constructions is actually easy to recognize. Stay on the alert for anyone relentlessly repeating the same topic and doing so in a way that induces feelings in you. When you learn to notice that process, it is easy to reject it. However, if you don’t take such actions, disinformation will imperceptibly embed within an auto-context that will create a new certainty illusion (and often a certainty delusion) from which you will have a very difficult time recovering. This certainty-delusion construction process is currently destroying the viability of self-governing systems.
Later in this article, you will see specific processes to reconstruct business cultures frequently and reliably to accommodate the onslaught of technology disruptions from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
You have seen an overview of the nature of auto-contexts, learned many ways to determine their viability by searching for anomalies, and gained some insights into how to transform them when they don’t meet your needs. Next, we will turn our attention to practical benefits we can achieve by conquering auto-contexts. We start that process in Part 5 by examining the many ways auto-contexts impact career and company successes.
Links to the previous Parts of this article:
Part 1: Introduction: Conquering Auto-Contexts Is the Key to Restarting Widespread Prosperity and Well-Being
Part 2: Fundamentals of Auto-Contexts – Starting with Kuhn’s Paradigms
Part 3: Certainty Anomalies – We Need the Courage and the Wisdom to Notice Them
Barry Borgerson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Dr. Barry Borgerson graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Ph.D. in computer science and one of his minors in the management of human resources. Barry co-led a multi-year DARPA-funded research project at the University and then went on to a highly successful career in the computer industry, starting as a lead computer architect and progressing through successive promotions to increasingly responsible leadership positions in technical management up to executive-level general management. When he took over a business that was failing and initiated actions to change some dysfunctional behaviors and the outdated culture of that business, he encountered so much counterproductive resistance that he started a long-term study into why very smart, highly educated, and extremely experienced people frequently cannot enact externally obvious changes they need to make to succeed.
That study led him to discover that the underlying cause of so many dysfunctional activities and the tenacious, normally uncontrollable, resistance to deep changes reside in enigmatic automatic human activities that business leaders normally do not notice, cannot change on their own if others point out their dysfunctions, and often deny they even exist. Barry then developed 2Selfs Theory, a comprehensive, business-friendly, generalized theory of the mind that models the sometimes cooperation but often competition between our explicit problem-solving abilities (using our “thinking self”) and our previously mysterious involuntary activities (driven by our “automatic self”) and provides systematic, reliable processes to align our elusive automatic actions with our explicit intentions and needed success priorities. Dr. Borgerson has repeatedly verified the effectiveness of the pragmatic 2Selfs Theory by applying it in many venues including through transformation coaching to reconstruct counterproductive behavior habits of business leaders and to change obsolete or dysfunctional company cultures, where the transformation processes worked immediately and repeatedly as the theory predicted.