Humility is an unusual word in western philosophy, described as the absence of something, rather than the presence of its opposite. Many people think of humility as exhibiting false modesty or a sense of unworthiness. This is incorrect. Humility is the absence of false pride or arrogance. It is a balanced state of being: an optimal simultaneous mix of the absence of false pride and presence of true pride.
Professional organizations, including management/technology consulting, are natural breeding grounds for arrogance. They typically serve clients’ known, unmet needs which clients most often specify precisely in advance. Clients reward service providers for supplying specialists meeting their exact needs. The more expert the skill set, the better. In turn, leading services firms reward their experts to be ever more specialized. This fosters arrogance. At each step, from client to provider to employee, the point of view and potential for innovation narrows. Clients’ real world, complex problems are oversimplified into complicated. Too frequently they are, yet again, decomposed down to simple, best practice responses by hired experts.
This positive feedback loop of ignorance breeds false pride, motivating us to ignore and deny what we do not know. Arrogance leads to enterprise failures over and over again. This arrogance of ignorance seems insane when we pause to be present, step back for perspective and gather our thoughts. Reflection usually happens after failure, when people search for someone else to blame. If this is the way our industry flows, can we reverse the tide?
The path we aspire to is less traveled. It unleashes the power of humility. We approach client challenges with humility. We acknowledge the world is complex and ambiguous. There is much we do not know. When we talk to clients about their problems, we frame their challenges in terms of the unknown unmet: opening up new possibilities for creativity and truth. We learn to search, experiment and apply universal principles and values across domains and explore the possibilities in whitespace as solution architects and as a whole learning organization.
Humility is the essence of self-actualization. Becoming self-aware lets us see the depth and breadth of our own and others’ understanding. We seek to understand what others can teach us so we can extend our boundaries ever deeper into the unknown unmet truth. Our unknown is someone’s known and vice versa. By collaborating,
we learn more collectively than we ever can individually.
We are intentionally designed to unleash our powers of humility. Our very name, Pariveda, means striving for knowledge with the understanding that the more we learn the more we will appreciate the vastness of the unknown. It informs our thinking and defines our processes. It helps us learn to become effective solution and enterprise architects. With humility, we can have true pride as individuals and servant leaders who provide unique and lasting value to our clients, colleagues, families and communities.
Bruce Ballengee, CEO