And The Process Of Illumination

 Don Quixote teaches us that life is to be challenged. James March

James March was a professor at Stanford when I was a Stanford doctoral student (1963). He gave me permission to audit his class, Organizational Decision Making. The two textbooks were: Don Quixote and War And Peace. I read Don Quixote but not War And Peace. Somehow recent readings and conversations brought all of this back to me. Therefore, this blog.

Don Quixote is a story of the misinterpretation of reality through illusion and imagination. My Process Of Illumination is a process of looking at the way we see and interpret the world. Illusion and imagination are key concepts in my writing.

In a film he made about Don Quixote, March says: Quixoteprovides a basis for thinking about what justifies great action.Why do we do what we do? Our standard answer is that we do what we do because we expect it to lead to good consequences.Quixote reminds us that there is another possible answer: We do what we do because it fulfills our identity, our sense of self. Identity-based actions protect us from the discouragement of disappointing feedback. Of course, the cost is that it also slows learning. Both types of actions are essential elements of human sensibility, but our usual conversations — particularly in business settings and schools — tend to forget the second.

I don’t know how my encounter with Don Quixote years ago influenced my writing. But I do know how my encounter with James March did. I have read most of his books and many of his articles. My blog about his Technology of Foolishnessin 2016, when he recommended “playfulness” as a decision making technique; “No always, not usually, but sometimes”. This is still the most popular blog. One of my favorite quotes: Decision making should as much a process of discovering goals as achieving goals. March’s books and articles basically considered and challenged the fundamental dogma of theories of choice. He helped us realize that human decision making is not a totally logical, rational process.

The Process of Illumination is a process of looking at the way we see things. Looking at the way Don Quixote sees things has been studied by so many for so long, it is a useful reminder to think about the way we see things. And do things.

The way we see things is the way we see things; it is nothing more;                                                  it is nothing less. But it is the beginning of everything.





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