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An Energy Company CEO told me that addictive, innocent explanations kept many people in his company from having to be responsible in the moment they explained something.  The cause was always in the explanation and never in them.

If a leader’s goal is to bring the Overview Effect to work, life, and conflict, and to see a reciprocal relationship between the Overview Effect and explanation, we will have to stop unnecessary explanation, at least for a while, to establish and maintain an Overview framework that we aspire to.


In the experience of the Overview Effect, there is no sense of transaction and no facts are being exchanged.  There is no hint of persuading, concluding, settling, managing, or negotiating.  Consider that the absence of transaction allows transcendence, the Overview Effect, to happen.

In everyday experience, when calling a business for information, voicemail is an example of transactional engagement. It’s a non-caring exchange of questions and facts.  It’s not transcendent nor wondrous, it’s full of boundaries, lacks curiosity, and dehumanizes the relationship.

Bureaucracy itself is transactional.  It’s machine-designed to maintain order and control.  People who become agents of a machine become machines themselves, effectively objects transacting with objects, producers transacting with consumers.  As Martin Buber wrote, transaction is not an ‘I-Thou’ experience, but rather an ‘I-It’ experience.  The transcendent Overview Effect experience doesn’t and cannot happen in such a context.  Bringing the Overview Effect to work, life, and relationships must preclude the experience of transaction.

Given the digitization and transactional nature of business, media, commerce, politics, and government, moving beyond transaction is daunting, possible, and radical.


Noise and transcendence cancel each other out.  When astronauts experienced the Overview Effect there was no noise.  I had the good fortune of attending a Thai Buddhist Temple when they introduced a guest as a ‘Forest Monk.’  He had spent the last ten years in a forest in Thailand, mostly by himself.  He went to the front of the room and sat cross legged on the floor, eyes closed, without speaking.  Utter silence.  I can’t begin to explain what happened except that his calmness filled me and filled the room.  His inner silence was transcendent, and I felt in the presence of pure possibility and pure interconnectedness.  He was being the Overview Effect.

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