Metathinking: The Art and Practice of Transformational Thinking – Nick Shannon and Bruno Frischherz Book Summary

Metathinking: The Art and Practice of Transformational Thinking – Nick Shannon and Bruno Frischherz | Free Book Summary

Metathinking: The Art and Practice of Transformational Thinking – Nick Shannon and Bruno Frischherz

Metathinking: The Art and Practice of Transformational Thinking, by Nick Shannon and Bruno Frischherz, is a book that explores the adult-developmental foundations of organizational work. It covers topics such as logical and dialectical thinking, metathinking framework, and more. It is designed to help professionals to develop their self-awareness and gain the skills to become more effective in their roles.

“How can you become a better thinker? This is the question that this book seeks to answer.”

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Logical Thinking

As Metathinkers, our aim is to shift between types of thinking to see reality in new ways.

Logical thinking is monologic, static, and constrained by rules. It follows specific systematic rules to determine whether a conclusion is justified given its premises and assumes a connection or chain of causality. There are three types of logical reasoning: deductive, inductive, and abductive.

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  • Deductive thinking derives a particular conclusion from a set of general premises or rules, and the conclusions are always true.
  • Inductive thinking derives a general conclusion or rule from a set of particular cases, and the conclusions are considered always true until otherwise discovered.
  • Abductive thinking derives a possible conclusion from a set of individual cases, and the conclusions are potentially but not necessarily true.

Dialectical Thinking

Dialectical thinking is dialogic, dynamic, and looser. It contains connections, follows certain patterns, and focuses on removing what constrains and limits us.

Dialectical thinking points the way to seeing what is not there (and yet could be there), sheds light on different aspects of a particular concept, and finds a way to overcome contradictions (through “illumination” and “remediation”).

It seeks to explore and expand how a person sees and understands reality by taking concepts and exploring what is missing or absent in terms of context, dynamics, and relationships (and hence how that concept might be transformed).

Dialectical Thinking: 4 Principles

  1. Holism: Dialectically, nothing can be viewed in isolation. There is always a bigger whole to be considered and each thing that one looks at is just a part of that whole.
  2. Dynamism (or constant change): Everything that exists can be considered to be in a state of motion, never static but always, in a sense, becoming what it is not already and, at the same time, leaving some of what it is behind.
  3. Relationship (or common ground): Each and every thing is related in some way to everything else, and it is those relationships that give the thing its essence.
  4. Transformation: This principle is rather harder to grasp than the other three because in some ways it is a combination of them.

Transformation is very often developmental in that there is movement towards a new form that transcends and includes the previous form, but it can also be regressive in the sense of a form breaking down, collapsing or reversing its previous growth.

What is Metathinking?

Metathinking is the practice of reflecting on our thinking and moving to a higher level where we can consciously choose which system of thought to apply.

It involves understanding that our minds create models of our environment and that we can acquire, broaden, refine, and assess our knowledge of reality through intentional and diverse thinking.

Metathinking enables us to choose between logical and dialectical thinking or use a combination of both, and to become aware of contradictions and absences in our thinking. By consciously making distinctions, elaborating on them, and integrating them with other concepts, we can transform our initial conception into a new, more complex one.

Metathinking allows us to develop a better and more complete understanding of the reality we are immersed in, noticing how everything is related and transforming the world in our mind by imagining a different reality from the one we perceive.

The Metathinking Framework

The Metathinking Framework is a combination of Ken Wilber’s integral quadrants and the four dialectical thinking modes known as SPiRiT. The dialectical thinking modes include Structural, Process, Relationship, and Transformation.

The Structural mode of thinking is based on the principle of holism, which sees things as part of a larger structure. The thought patterns that correspond to the Structural mode include Differentiation of elements in a whole representing a stable entity in its own right,

Elaboration of elements with reference to the structure, hierarchy, and functionality of the elements, and Integration of different elements and perspectives into a structured bigger entity as a system.

The Process mode

The Process mode of thinking is based on the principle of dynamism and describes how reality changes continuously.

The thought patterns that correspond to the Process mode include Differentiation of a changing element, linking its current state to the past and future, Elaboration of one or more elements in their developmental aspects, and Integration of changing and interconnected elements in an unceasing movement as a system.

The Relational mode

The Relational mode of thinking is based on the principle of common ground and describes how everything is connected. The thought patterns that correspond to the Relational mode include Differentiation of relationships between entities, Elaboration of the types of relationships between entities, and Integration of relationships in a larger context or structure.

The Transformation mode

The Transformation mode of thinking is based on the principle of change and describes how reality evolves over time. The thought patterns that correspond to the Transformation mode include Differentiation of the current state of a system and its ideal state, Elaboration of the transitional steps from the current state to the ideal state, and Integration of the transformative process as a whole.

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