Pragmatic Inquiry is a time-honored way of getting beyond assumptions, providing a well-tested practice that can help you interpret your challenges in new ways.
The result of the Inquiry may be a small adjustment in plans or a complete change in direction.
Reacting to the flood of information we are confronted with daily and attempting to fit it into our existing patterns and habits of thinking requires us to assume we know what it all means.
Most information and events are signs, clues, evidence or symptoms and our interpretations of them may not be the best choice now, especially since our complex environment is always changing!
The Importance of a question: challenging what … ”you know for sure…”
Learning begins when we stop and begin to question or doubt what we know, when we start our Pragmatic Inquiry!
We state what we know and value as assumptions which are treated as hypotheses to be tested based on our experience. We begin to rethink our experiences, plans and what we know and value, and search for new explanations, ideas, and strategies to be tested.
The goal of Pragmatic Inquiry is to help individuals and teams make better decisions concerning the strategy for themselves and their organizations to meet some market or society need…to help all life flourish.
The result of the Pragmatic Inquiry may be a small adjustment in plans, or a complete change in direction.
And most importantly, the goal is to uncover and ignite values and vision to drive sustainable organization performance.
Pragmatism: the meaning of ideas/thoughts/values is determined by their consequences — by what actions results from them. (e.g. “By their fruits you will know them.” Bible—Matthew 7:16)
Project: An idea for a product or service which will or is addressing some market/society need, opportunity, problem or issue. It can range from the tactical to “what is the purpose of my career/life?”
Challenge/question [Cq]: Question, doubt or barrier that you face in developing and implementing your Project. It may be quickly answered. However, if the challenge is big enough, it might engage you throughout your life.
Arc of Pragmatic Inquiry®: For individual leaders (def.: change agents) and teams: A discipline/methodology/practice – uniquely rooted in the scientific method – to create an integrative, values-driven strategy or plan to interrupt the future.
Experiential Learning: Reflect on the evidence of experience to examine and challenge the assumptions, values, vision and hypotheses driving your Project. The aim is to learn and “begin again.”
Our Values and Our Vision are what guide us as we choose and confront the problems, opportunities, issues, trends, challenges and competitive situations that face us.
“A Value is a belief, principle or virtue held so deeply (consciously or unconsciously) that it guides behavior, decisions and actions.”Ron Nahser, PhD.
A long-term aspirational Goal is not quantifiable, is highly intuitive and is used to motivate and inspire. It is based on and grows out of the Core Purpose (Includes a Vivid Description–what it will look like when we achieve our Goal.)
“Education is | not the filling of a pail, |
but the igniting of a fire.”William Butler Yates
“What is PathFinder Pragmatic Inquiry?”
“It’s Strategic Planning for Individuals, as well as for Organizations.”
Carolyn Woo, Dean
Mendoza College of Business
University of Notre Dame
Beta Gamma Sigma Board Meeting, June 2000
What is Pragmatic Inquiry?
Pragmatic Inquiry is a discipline which aims at igniting values and vision to drive sustainable organization performance in serving market/society needs.
The method of Inquiry is based on Pragmatism; so-called “Classical American Philosophy.” It is an original American insight that the meaning of ideas is determined by their consequences — by what action results from the ideas. This takes us far beyond the usual misunderstanding and stance of “do whatever works” to a stance of putting ideas and beliefs to the test in action. It offers the thoughtful management practitioner and student a simple, efficient way to inquire into and act on the pressing questions and challenges they have on which they must decide and act.