The Influence of a Category

“There are no seems in a rainbow and yet we see them anyway. This illusion is based in biology and refined by language and culture.” – Peter Morville – Intertwingled

Perhaps it is a little obtuse standing on its own.

This is a reference to the arbitrary nature of categories and how their influence on our mental models and paradigms.

We create categories through our language and from our culture. Then we see the world through those categories. However, these categories are not real. We chose them. We learned them.

If we could easily create a difference set of categories for colour, and if we could get these accepted internally, then we will see these new colours when we look at a rainbow.

In a conversation listen to the language around you and try to understand where these categorisations come from. Do they help or hinder? Have they had to evolve?

When talking with a client or stakeholder try to use their own categories to build rapport and understanding.

But never forget their power or influence and think about when they may need to change if you want to transform the status quo.

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Why am I committing to write this blog?

Because I need to clarify my own thinking and perspective.
Because sharing these thoughts, opinions and ideas with others, to be clarified, understood and challenged moves us, and me, forward.
Because we should be brave and prepared to take a different view. We should explore and find out what others believe and how they think.
I believe:
  • We should always seek to understand.
  • We should constantly question everything.
  • We should challenge our assumptions and admit our biases.
  • We should try to empathize at every turn.
  • We should be fearless of failure.
And finally because everyone and everything is connected – and not many people truly get that.