Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ontological Arrogance

Yesterday, I got home from my 3rd year residency in Atlanta, and what a trip that was! Eight days of non-stop, day and night work!  I am into my third year in this program and those of us who are still standing have so much to talk about (and so much admiration and respect for each other)! My class was 13 people in various programs – we had two people in my program (DM in information systems and technology), one in the general DM program, one in the DBA program, two in DHA (healthcare admin), and everyone else in an Ded program of one flavor or another. Where we sat when we walked into the classroom on Day 1 sealed our fates for the rest of the residency. I have been thanking God profusely for my good fortune. We had the best team in the room…meaning we were able to collaborate better and so we had the least trouble compared to the other teams.

We had three teams – one team had 5 people. Only by luck, my team was the least diverse in the room. We had representatives from three disciplines, but my team was all women (we were the only team with no men). In my field, it’s not that unusual to be the token woman on a team, but in regard to my residency team, I was the token white woman. I thoroughly enjoyed working with these ladies, and we were able talk, agree, and get to work while we heard people at other tables still arguing about what they were going to do or how they would split up work. We had 5 presentations in 5 days, and every day we had to have a different team leader. We had a different leader, but during our presentations, people remarked they couldn’t tell who our leader was. That tells me our collaboration was excellent.

The prompts were very generalized and all about very complex problems (economic collapse, species extinction, climate change) - being able to collaborate when there were so many strategic issues to consider enabled us to make decisions faster and better.  Once we got into the research, our decisions needed very little tweaking. On a tactical level, it was very stressful to have so much going on with deadlines, but we delivered consistently because we were able to collaborate and help each other without even needing to ask for help in some cases.  We were so in tune with what each other was doing, we were able to anticipate problems. 

What does this have to do with ontological arrogance? Everything. We interpret problems and make meaning of things based on experiences that are significantly influenced by our disciplines. If we aren’t open to the viewpoints of others, we rely on our assumptions to provide a framework for making meaning of things. If we can’t question our assumptions, it’s difficult to collaborate or incorporate other perspectives into our own thinking. Whatever we are doing, it very well could be that we are doing it the right way. But how do we know if we are doing the right things? More importantly, how do we know what is the right thing to do? This all goes back to single, double, and triple loop learning and this was the focus of my residency.

The residency is done and now I have a week before launching into another class. I’m using this breathing space to process what I’ve learned. More importantly, these new ideas are tools for getting approval to do my dissertation study. I’m going to work tomorrow with a new goal – to stir up trouble (in politically correct ways, of course).


Anonymous said...

Great perspective! Ienjoyed it, very wll written. Thanks for sharing.

KYLady said...

Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

Did you by any chance do your residency with me in AZ with Dr. Nancy?

KYLady said...

All my residencies were in Atlanta. I would have loved to have gone to Phoenix, but it never worked out that way for me. All the instructors for my residencies were amazing. I hope your experiences were as great as mine.

Brandon T Craig ( said...


By now, you have likely accomplished all the things that were heavy for you in this post and are now on to more challenges in your wonderful life. This note is to thank you for being a person who is awake and living your life, your service to others (like this blog post) and all that you are. Thank you for being you! Be blessed-BTC

KYLady said...


Thank you for your kind comments. You have made my day. :)


Cee Level said...

I came across your blog days after my first residency in Phoenix. Unfortunately my team was one that squabbled because we had a member that was inflexible in their belief they were right. Despite that, I'm looking forward to Residencies two and three. My plan is to bring your experience to the group, and hopefully see it return.