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The Geometry of Character and Culture

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Location and Multi-Dimensionality

A second important insight can be derived from the field of topology. This insight centers on geographic complexity and the capacity to locate something in space. How much information does it take to locate any entity? If the entity exists in a complex space, then it takes a large amount of information to locate it. A less complex space enables us to locate an entity with a minimal amount of information. It is possible to conceive (if not envision) an entity that can only be located with four or five or even twenty different pieces of information. This is why it is possible to speak about 4-D space or even 20-D space.

It is useful to remind ourselves when we are using a term like “4=D” that the “D” refers to dimension. This happens to be the same term that Goodwin Watson adopts when identifying the structures, processes and attitudes of an organization. I consider this redundancy in terms to be quite valuable. Watson is suggesting, in essence, that an organization (or any human system) can be described (located in space) through the use of three dimensions: structure, process, attitude.

As I am noting throughout this series of essays: organizational are complex, multi-dimensional entities. When only one or two of Watson’s dimensions are accessed by a leader or coach, then the organization has not been properly “located.” Mistakes are likely to be made when any coaching intervention is engaged if one or more of these three dimensions is ignored. The intervention will inevitably fail in the long-term if the organization is conceived as a one-dimensional or even two-dimensional entity. Leaders need to consider all three dimensions. We can be of great service to our clients, as coach, if we encourage the exploration of all three dimensions.

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