Developing Shared Understanding

Developing our ‘common ground’

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CogNexus Institute founder Jeff Conklin explains why the Age of Design requires a new approach to problem solving that is built on a foundation of shared understanding.
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No matter where we look, whether local, national or at the global level, we find deep divisions are one of the defining characteristics of our world. But, more than ever, people are seeking to work through this conflict through communication rather than other wasteful means. Why do people think differently? Why do they do such different things from us? Why don’t they value what we value? Working towards a shared understanding is an essential part of this communication.

Shared understanding is our ‘common ground’ – the values, beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, feelings and behaviour that we share with others. Shared understanding is not necessarily having the same understanding but agreement can be reached on disagreements. There can be shared understanding of problems and a shared commitment to solutions.

At the heart of shared understanding is the spirit of collaboration. We make a choice to engage with others to jointly learn and work out how to get better together in the face of conflict, changing conditions and many conflicting sources of information. We share so that we understand one another’s position well enough to have intelligent dialogue about our different interpretations of a problem. We can then use our collective intelligence to work out how to solve it!

Mā te rongo, ka mōhio; Mā te mōhio, ka mārama; Mā te mārama, ka mātau; Mā te mātau, ka ora.

Through resonance comes cognisance; through cognisance comes understanding; through understanding comes knowledge; through knowledge comes life and well-being.

Key idea: When we engage with others we learn not only to establish new ways forward but also to build our capacity to be increasingly resilient in the face of new challenges.


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December 12, 2012

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December 12, 2012


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